Many business owners struggle with letting their assistant handle various tasks. Being a business owner means your business has been built from the ground up with you being in total control. Giving tasks over to their assistants gives some business owners the feeling they will lose control. Additionally, they feel like no one can do “it”, whatever “it” is, as well as they can. However, if, as a business owner, you’ve trusted your instincts, done your homework and hired the right assistant, trust that they can do the job as well as you, and though you don’t want to admit it, sometimes better.
Clarity: Be clear about the tasks that you want/need done, with each assignment give clear concise directions. When giving instructions be of the mindset that this person has no knowledge of your business and write your directions accordingly. This will result in less questions and eliminate confusion especially if your assistant works offsite or virtually. Giving them independence will allow them to make decisions and lessens your workload after all, isn’t this why you hired an assistant.
Deadlines and Deliverables: Instead of worrying about the process and how someone does something, create checklists based off deliverables for every project that you’re involved in so that you can provide some guidance without having micromanage. If you develop checklists chances are they can be reused for future projects with a little tweaking.
Hire the Right Assistant: Listen to that old phrase, “you get what you pay for” There is nothing worse than hiring a minimum wage assistant to have to turn around and hire someone else to finish the job. Interview assistants based the type of projects and ask them to describe similar projects they’ve worked on and how they organized themselves. Be clear with your expectations up front. There are online sources that you can plug in the skills you need to ensure you get the right type of candidates to interview and this can be a tremendous time saving measure
Project Management System: There are many different project management systems such as Basecamp.com, Asana.com and others. It’s imperative that you and your assistant use something like that and not rely on email to keep track of the things that are to be done each day, week and month. If you already use a certain system ask potential candidates if they’ve used that system. Have a project management question ready to ensure that they are truly familiar with that program and they aren’t just telling you yes to get the job.
Set Milestones and Deadlines – Within the project management system and in concert with your assistant, set milestones and deadlines based on the expectations of what you want them to do. Have a system in place if deadlines and milestones can’t be met. This may be no one’s fault, but having a plan in place allows the workflow to continue. If you turn over work to your assistant that they automatically do each month without too much input for you, so much the better.
Check in Regularly: You don’t want to bother each other too often, but you can check in for five minutes each morning or once a week; whatever works for you and your assistant. Set boundaries and respect each other’s time. If you know your assistant puts her kids on the bus at 8:00 am every day, don’t schedule a check in for that time. Regular contact is essential and setting up how that contact should happen is key. For example, “We will communicate on Fridays at 8:30 am via Skype Chat.
Provide Adequate Support: Whether it’s a budget to work with, or access to software that makes their job easier, it’s important to provide them with what they need. If you want your assistant to answer your emails they will need your password. If you want someone to be your true assistant, they’ll need access to the things you have access to in order to better help you.
Motivate and Reward: Feedback should be a two way street both positive and negative. As a business owner you should be aware of your assistant’s struggles within your business. If a link is broken on a landing page before laying blame find out why and how to prevent it as a team in the future. Remember, that pats on the back, saying that they not only did a great job but it was creative and innovative idea will go a long way. The happier an assistant is, and the more secure they feel within their position with your business, the harder they’ll work on your behalf.
That doesn’t mean signing over any part of your business, what it means is celebrate the successes with them and brainstorm on how to do better. Acknowledging them as a wealth of information and value will cement your relationship as one of great success.
Finally, it’s important to let go of perfection and allow people who are experts in what they do, do what it is that they do. You can’t do everything, no successful CEO does. In fact, most successful business owners mostly do nothing, but delegate tasks to the smart, capable experts that they hired.