Leveraging Shared Administrative Support

This is the second in a series on the leader and the assistant. In the first post, I talked about the value in having dedicated support. However, the majority of the leaders I know have shared support. I understand that scenario. At one point in my career, I had an assistant supporting me and 15 other people. Despite the odds, she still added HUGE value to the entire team. Here are some things that may help you if you have shared admin support.

Hire the absolute best assistant you can - There are assistants and there are assistants. Be extremely selective. While looking for an assistant many years ago, my charge to the Human Resources team was simple: I wanted this person to be the best admin we had ever selected. We chose the 103rd candidate.
Talk about expectations… together - Get everyone who this person will support in one room and have a conversation. Be willing to customize the support each member of the group needs. To say to the assistant, “We want you to manage everyone’s travel,” may not make sense. Some in your group may want or need to schedule their own travel. One person may need help with Power Point slides and someone else may be a Power Point ninja. One size will not fit all.
Be strategic on what you do request - What is it that you don’t do well that someone else can help you with? What would free up the most time for you? What is your assistant uniquely gifted to contribute?
Set priorities clearly - Everything you ask an assistant to do shouldn’t be an A priority. If that is the case, you’ve probably got other issues. Be willing to say, “Can you help me get this done in the next week?” Also, be willing to revisit priorities. If others in the group really do have A priority work – your request may need to wait. Talk about these things.
Consider part-timers – If the workload spikes, you may need to bring in part-time people to help get it all done. Be realistic regarding how much your shared assistant can do alone.
Keep expectations high - Just because the assistant is supporting multiple people, you shouldn’t expect anything less than excellent work with magnificent attention to detail. They may do less for you but it cannot be less in quality. (You may want to look at my previous post to get some ideas on what to look for in an assistant.)
Be willing to make adjustments - What you originally design will probably need to change at some point. If the work changes, the role of the admin may need to change. If the team adds or loses members, what the admin can do will probably change. View your support as dynamic, not static.
Remember, those closest to you ultimately determine your level of success.[GLS_Shield]


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