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How to Make the Best Use of an Assistant


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The following post is from a good friend Brian Howard. He is a tremendous leader and helps consult, coach, and lead pastors and churches all over the country. His work here from a post on May 11 is excellent. Enjoy!

"Hiring an assistant is one of the best decisions you can make as a leader. Why? Because many leaders spend the majority of their time doing things they are not uniquely gifted to do when those things could all be delegated. John Maxwell once said, “If someone else can do something 80 percent as well as you can, let them do it.” As a leader, you must focus on the things that you are uniquely called to do. This is where an assistant can be so helpful. A good assistant frees you to focus. But once you have an assistant, how do you make the best use of your assistant? Here are 6 principles that will help make the leader-assistant relationship a success:

Also Read: How to Hire the Right Assistant

1. Prioritize and then Delegate

In a previous post, I teach a process that will help you take back control of your schedule by identifying your top priorities and putting a plan in place to carry them out. Work as hard as possible to focus all of your time on your top 6-8 priorities, and have your assistant do everything else.

You can also find things that your assistant can do by looking at your to-do list. What have you continually procrastinated from your list? Is there any possibility that anyone other than you can do these things? If so, give them to your assistant. Keep doing the things that only you can do and delegate everything else.

2. Invest Time in Front End Training

In the first few weeks of training a new assistant, commit to investing several hours weekly in trainingFollow the Leader Development Cycle as you train: I do – You watch; I do – You help, You do – I help, You do – I Watch. Expecting an assistant to hit the ground running without a substantial investment in time is an unrealistic and flawed approach. The few hours that you invest on the front end time will free up hundreds and even thousands of hours over time.

3. Compliment and Correct Often

Don’t be afraid to give continual feedback to your assistant. You might have to correct a new assistant dozens of times as you teach the person how to work with you. Make sure to compliment your assistant when he does something well. Your assistant has to learn how you work and what your expectations are. Your assistant has the right to know if he is failing or being successful.

4. Provide Ongoing Training

Investing 3-5 hours weekly with an assistant who will produce 30-40 hours of work on your behalf is a spectacular use of your time. Consider meeting with your assistant 3 times weekly for a check in and to answer questions. Communicate what you need done. Go through your email box together. Ask questions like: “What do you need from me?” or “What can I do to help you be more successful?” And then give feedback as suggested above in point three.

5. Double Down on Communication

Communicating only once can end up in miscommunication. If you verbally ask your assistant to do something, follow-up with an email as well. If you send an email, make a phone call to make sure that they understand. It may seem like overkill, but I have found that it, in fact, is not. Reinforcing communication banishes miscommunication and promotes forward progress. Remember, don’t ever initiate conflict with an email!

6. See your Assistant as an Extension of You

Don’t apologize to people for having them interact with your assistant. Your assistant allows you to double your productivity. In order to do this, he will need to communicate with people on your behalf. Remember: Great leaders focus on the things they are uniquely gifted and called to do and delegate everything else.

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