A Guide for Hiring an Executive Assistant
September 16, 2019
I have talked about the importance of hiring an Executive Assistant throughout the past seasons of the Encourager Podcast and I honestly can’t emphasize it enough… hiring this position is seriously a GAME CHANGER! In this episode, I talk with my Executive Assistant, Angie Sattler, about her position, some of the personal qualities and skills you need to look for when hiring this position, and what tasks should be included in the job description.
Write a Job Description
- Make a list of all of the tasks you DON’T LIKE doing. This may seem like you are “dumping” tasks on someone else, but I promise… there is someone out there who LOVES the things you don’t enjoy doing! It’s totally their jam and being hired by you may be the biggest blessing of their career!
- Programs/Experience needed should include necessary computer skills for your industry. For us, Angie uses the Microsoft Office Suite, Google Documents, Gmail, etc., a calendar to track appointments, a list or notes app (for tracking tasks while on the go), an Agenda Sheet (for more on this and to view a blank Agenda Sheet that Angie and I both use, check out Episode 142).
- Include equipment needed to do the job successfully. For Angie, this includes a laptop, cell phone, planner/calendar, agenda sheet, notebook and pen. Of course, she totes all of these around in two awesome Rebekah Scott Designs products: a Jovie laptop sleeve (named after her daughter) and Charcoal Wax Canvas Philip Tote bag!
Other things to include:
What Traits/Skills to Look for in an Assistant
- Enjoys office work
- Enjoys process improvement (making things easier, better, more efficient)
- Enjoys problem solving
- Enjoys helping others
- Enjoys completing tasks (and checking boxes)
- Is organized & detail oriented
- Helpers/Problem Solvers (people who offer ideas or solutions to problems)
- Simplifier (break large ideas down into manageable tasks/steps)
Preventing Assistant Burn-Out
- Set your own priorities and boundaries as the leader and give your team permission to do the same.
- Encourage setting alarms on phone for breaks (lunch, snacks, end of the day).
- Allow them to turn off email alerts on phone email and messaging apps and bury the apps on the second or third page of their phone so they don’t see them all the time.
- Keep smaller or limited checklists so they don’t try to do too much in one day/week!
- Encourage having “no work” or “no laptop” zones at home.
- Encourage charging electronics somewhere besides the bedroom (this means buying an old school alarm clock to wake up to!).
Why Assistants Enjoy Their Job
- Using their talents to add value to an organization
- A belief in your product, mission, vision, and values
- Being a help to others, preferably from the background (look for an Enneagram 2 as they are “helpers”)
- Project completion (checking things off a list)
- Flexibility to work around personal/family events
- Process improvement or finding better/more efficient ways to complete tasks
Know Your Employee
Consider asking your applicants to take one or more of the following personal development tools to learn as much as possible about them BEFORE you hire. Some of these are more appropriate after hiring and are very helpful in developing an outstanding working relationship (like Angie and I have).
- There are LOADS of paid and free quizzes you can take and books you can read. For more on this, listen to Episode 9-144.
- Angie is a Type 2 “helper” with a 1 “perfectionist” wing
Top 5 Strengths
- CliftonStrengths is a paid personality test that offers an online assessment you can take. There are similar tests available online that are offered for free. For more on this, listen to Episode 9-144.
- Angie’s Top 5 Strengths are: Discipline, Empathy, Communication, Futuristic, Maximizer.
- The 5 Love Languages is a book by Gary Chapman that talks about how we all give and receive love. You can take a free quiz here to find out your love language! For more, listen to Episode 3-84 (while this episode is geared toward spousal relationships, it applies to everyone in your life and how you can best show them love and appreciation).
- This concept is from my book “Equipped to Execute” which is available for purchase on my website or on Amazon (softcover, eBook and audio book versions are available). For more, listen to Episode 5-113. Super skills are very individualized and take time to uncover!
How Leaders Can Best Help this Position
- Communicate clearly
- Offer feedback (positive and constructive)
- Show appreciation
- Know her love language
- Set clear goals and expectations
- Follow up on priorities and tasks
- Help set priorities and tasks (when needed)
- Celebrate victories or completed projects before moving on to the next thing
- Knowing and developing our strengths
- Knowing and guarding against our weaknesses
- Check in (I recommend a weekly call on Monday to talk through calendars, priorities, and follow ups).
We got this Encouragers!