I have some questions regarding what is proper to ask my administrative assistant to do. For instance, last week I missed my niece’s birthday because of my workload. Is it okay to have my assistant track my personal to do list? I know some executives have their assistant’s do everything from washing their car to picking up dry cleaning. I have always felt funny about some of these personal tasks—I don’t want to take advantage...
Like most of us, you cannot completely separate your work schedule from your home life. Have you ever worked from home? Have you ever had to work later then your “normal” hours? Have you ever left work, went to a personal function, and then came back and worked some more? Your personal assistant needs to be your right hand woman (or man) and that has to include some of your personal errands, without getting carried away. So, let how much time you put into the job each week decide how many personal errands you will need your assistant to do. Start by remembering that, based on pay and experience (to name just two factors), your time is more valuable to the company than your assistant’s. When you have busy weeks, then it is more important to the company that you send your PA out to get lunch for you and maybe pick up your dry cleaning so that you can focus on work. Conversely, when you have a regular or easy week, let her enjoy the benefit of that as well—you take care of your personal life and she can have some time for her own. While we cannot say exactly how to proceed, here are some ideas to help.
• Use an All-In-One Calendar. The idea that you have two calendars, or sets of responsibilities, is not realistic. Your life cannot fit neatly into small categories of time. While this is true no matter what position you hold, it is even truer if you run your own business. And time management is one of the most important aspects of success. Your administrative assistant needs to help you manage your time, and that means all your time. That way, you can throw yourself into your work and know that when it is time to transition, your right hand person will let you know.
• Communication is the Key. Remember that it is not what you have your assistant do, it is how effectively you communicate why doing these personal errands is important to the success of the company. You are all there to benefit the company because that creates job security, potential for raises and promotions, and increases feelings of self-esteem. If you explain as you go, then you will be on the same page. When communication breaks down, your PA might feel resentful or angry about dropping off some papers at your kid’s school. Those feelings are never conducive to a productive and healthy work environment.
• This is all Part of the Training. Many administrative assistant’s go on to leadership roles in their companies and teaching yours about this synergy will be important for her if and when she moves into a power position. She is already learning a lot about what it means to run a company by keeping your schedule, communicating with executives both internal and external to the company, and (possibly) reviewing documents that come in and out of your office. Teaching her the necessity of delegating personal tasks, as well as not abusing that power, is also important.