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Effectively utilizing an administrative assistant

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  • Effectively utilizing an administrative assistant

    Can anyone recommend any good resources for learning how to most effectively utilize an administrative assistant/secretary/executive assistant? I've searched high & low and can't find a thing. I, as a manager, need training in how to get the most out of an assistant.

  • #2

    Good places to start reading about delegating (esp. to an assistant) are:



    • #3
      Discussions with your assistant at all the altitudes

      I've found that almost anyone can work together, as long as they know they're working together.

      Going through the process, bottom up, is critical for groups in the organization. Getting clear on the runway level of life (what is the current inventory of 150-300 next actions I am managing) and the projects list (the 30-50-80 projects driving my next actions) is a great place to start.

      These are not easy conversations to have, granted; but, they sure are important. I remember hearing David say, "My job is to make sure that Jason has too much to do. When he's busy, he'll make good choices about what to do."


      • #4
        Utilizing an executive assistant

        I am an executive assistant and have met a woman who does coaching with Executive / Assistant teams. Perhaps she would have some pointers.

        Belinda Heiden Scott -- She also has worked with the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). Perhaps one of her contacts will have something of use. Here is her website:

        I have been an assistant to physicians in a hospital medical staff, with executives in an office products manufacturing division and also provided support for program managers in the aerospace industry.

        I have found that the partnership between manager and assistant is basically the same for any industry. As long as the assistant knows what is going on with her executive's GTD list, tasks can be delegated to her and she also has opportunities to anticipate and prepare materials so he has what he needs to get a headstart on a project. It makes the job more satisfying for the assistant and relieves the executive of some of his Action Items.

        If the assistant doesn't know what is going on, she can't provide any meaningful level of support.



        • #5
          My advice is to hire a good, stable person who have already proven her/himself to be a successful admin/exec assistant.

          In terms of managing them, one of the best tools is a weekly review session. What were the goals/projects were supposed to have worked on? What happened/where are they with them? Goal/focus setting for the next 7-90 days. Any professional or personal problems, questions, concerns they want to share or ask about.

          If you do those and are genuinely interested and listen you will build good communication channels, start nipping problems in bud, and get a lot more done.

          Two resources for you:
          There's a gentleman by the name of Barry Shamis who has a program entitled, "“How To Hire The Perfect Administrative Assistant”.

          Also the book "Managing Up : How to Forge an Effective Relationship With Those Above You", by Roger Gittines, Rosanne Badowski. Rosanne worked for Jack Welch at GE.



          • #6
            Just found a couple of articles to get you started on managing/delegating work to your admin/executive assistant:


            hope that helps, along with some other great suggestions here from @Rainer. I'm also putting together a short report on administrative assistant salary and was wondering if anyone had any resources to suggest.



            • #7
              more resources as well

              For those of you who are GTD Connect members, we just posted an article from an expert GTD'er on a successful executive and assistant team:

              There's also a fantastic article on our main website about this:




              • #8
                4 hr workweek ideas

                One website, (virtual assistants from India) has the following guidelines:

                To know what you can outsource [EDIT: read: delegate], ask yourself the following questions:

                1. What is it that you want to spend your time doing?
                2. What are the things that are getting in the way?
                3. Of that list, what do you not have to do personally?

                This simple approach can apply to an executive assistant as well.

                Most scheduling of meetings, runaround tasks, and pre-filtering of email and voicemail can be handled by an admin/exec assistant.



                • #9
                  I love this manager tools podcast for excellent tips on utilizing an admin.


                  Basic concept: anything you are doing that your admin can be doing they should be