Hiring an Executive Assistant: Part 1 – When Do I Need One?

9 mins read

This article is written to discuss the value of hiring an executive assistant and what they can do for you.

Consider a typical day at the office. You may have 5 tasks that need to be completed ASAP: one you dread or feel incompetent at, one you are competent at, two you are excellent at but do not enjoy doing, and one you love doing. Often, so much of our time is bogged down by completing the first 4 tasks, that the one we truly enjoy gets pushed aside or we are too exhausted to put passion into it. Now consider having someone there whose skillsets complement your own, whose strengths complement your weaknesses, and whose efficiency increases your own helping you with your task list! Suddenly you have time to work on that exciting project, and even have the mental space to innovate new projects. This is what having an executive assistant can do for you.

Executive assistants are task-management extraordinaires, and by doing their jobs, they make your work more exciting, manageable, organized, and time-oriented. A typical executive assistant will be a master scheduler, timekeeper, and coordinator. They will be able to organize your meetings and travel itineraries, be a point of contact for internal and external requests, handle and follow up on standard communications via email, mail, and telephone, and more! In addition to providing strong business support, executive assistants also provide confidential personal support. When integrated into a business, executive assistants are a fundamental piece of making productivity run smoothly and efficiently.

Time is Money

Is an executive assistant worth the cost? YES! Imagine, for a moment, a senior executive whose total yearly compensation package is $1 million annually, and their assistant’s salary is $80,000. For the organization to break even, the assistant needs to increase the executive’s efficiency by 8% or save them roughly 5 hours of work in a 60-hour workweek.1 Most assistants do this and more. Their filing systems, organization, and steady presence alone will increase executive efficiency immensely. By taking care of the tasks mentioned previously and taking business initiatives to keep productivity always moving forwards, executive assistants more than make up their salary in the executive’s time saved.

Executive Assistants for Executive Action

As mentioned, executive assistants save a business’s money by saving the executive’s time. Here are some of the main benefits of having an executive assistant in your business:

1. Undertakes Special Assignments and Projects

Often, tasks will pop up in a business that do not fall under any one specific department. This is where an executive assistant can truly shine, as they become the “jack-of-all-trades” figure in your business. A proficient executive assistant will be able to take on many roles at any given moment. When your executive assistant takes on these initiatives or projects, they are freeing up your and others’ time to complete your necessary tasks while still allowing you the confidence that the projects will be done efficiently.

2. Increases Your Productivity

Being aware of the gaps in your capabilities is fundamental to leading a business, as awareness means that you can find ways to account for those weaknesses. Once you are aware of your own weaknesses, you can work towards hiring an executive assistant who complements those weaknesses and will empower your strengths! While your executive assistant takes care of smaller, detailed tasks, or those tasks that are not your strong suit, you can focus on bigger projects which you are passionate about and can impact the company in BIG ways. An executive assistant offers you constant support in your projects and by taking on new projects, often anticipating what you need before you ask.

Note: This kind of partnership is deeply rooted in trust and respect on both sides, as your assistant is empowered to conduct business on your behalf. When hiring your executive assistant, make sure to focus on both their skillset and their character. We will discuss this more in the 2nd part of this series.

3. Prestige

Let’s face it, having an executive assistant makes you look good! It sends the message that you are busy and professional enough that your work requires someone to keep everything running smoothly, scheduling your appointments, handling correspondences, etc. While this may, at first glance, seem like a superficial benefit, consider the implications of client interaction! When your clients or customers interact with your professional, organized executive assistant, they are given the impression of your professionalism and are more likely to take you seriously. Not to mention, the professionalism your executive assistant displays will reflect positively on you and your business, even if you’re not present. Additionally, interactions may change internally with an executive assistant. Some executives have reported fewer minor interruptions throughout the day as others respect their time more when someone has been hired to manage it.2

4. Positive Cultural Change

Finally, having an executive assistant can positively benefit your workplace culture! An executive assistant can take on duties including organizing holiday parties, setting up employee appreciation initiatives, etc. and will free up some time for you to do the same. Also, hiring an executive assistant can streamline communication between yourself and your employees! If there is an easy way to ask questions or gain directive from your executive assistant, employees may be more likely to ask those questions. It will then be up to your executive assistant to give answers, or pass inquiries on to you in an appropriate, timely manner. Your executive assistant will be a professional, friendly, and intelligent addition to your company culture. When one person demonstrates productivity, more are sure to follow!

Executive Decisions

You may have noticed continual reference to productivity, professionality, friendliness, and responsibility throughout this article. That’s because, as briefly mentioned, your executive assistant should have all the professional skills necessary to be a positive addition to your team, and the characteristics of someone you can respect and trust to work closely with. Personality and character are fundamental when hiring an executive assistant. For more on what to look for when hiring an executive assistant, stay tuned for Part 2 of this series!

Download this resource Hiring an Executive Assistant: Part 1 – When Do I Need One?.

1 Duncan, Melba J. “The Case for Executive Assistants.” Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2011/05/the-case-for-executive-assistants

2 Westwood, Ryan. “4 Reasons Successful Entrepreneurs Need Executive Assistants.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanwestwood/2014/12/02/4-reasons-successful-entrepreneurs-need-executive-assistants/?sh=5f67231a23ef

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