EA Importance

3 Myths Keeping You from Hiring an Executive Assistant

Don’t let these myths keep you from making the force-multiplying hire that can supercharge your success!

An Executive Assistant is vital to helping a leader be successful whether they are an executive, entrepreneur, real estate agent, or another professional. A Harvard Business article states: “...effective assistants can make enormous contributions to productivity.”  Initially, this seems to state the obvious. However, many leaders struggle to embrace this truth. 

I have found that there are 3 top myths that leaders believe that keep them from hiring executive assistants. If you’ve ever found yourself overworked, stressed, and feeling like you’re drowning in administrative work, you need an assistant. By overcoming these 3 myths, you will be well on your way to becoming the most effective version of yourself.

Myth #1: I don’t have time to hire an Executive Assistant.

The first myth I find leaders believing is that they just do not have enough time to hire an assistant. I completely understand that life is busy. For most of us, it’s just part of the job. I know! But I don’t believe being busy is a valid reason to abandon the idea of hiring an assistant. 

The very logic behind having an assistant is that they will help save you time, not slow you down or waste your time. According to Masterson Staffing Solutions, “An executive assistant with the right skills and traits can reduce the number of tasks, meetings, and communications that often muddle an executive’s schedule.”

Think of your job as an executive in terms of running. The following are two types of tasks that you regularly perform: 

  1. The things you do that others are capable of doing are like running in place on a treadmill.
  2. The things you do that ONLY you are capable of doing are like making forward progress running on solid ground. 

You jump on that treadmill hoping to plow through your first list, but the longer you run, the more exhausted you get. You are doing the best you can, but you begin to notice that you aren’t making any progress working on the things that truly matter. You are wearing yourself out on that “treadmill”, and you can’t last forever. 

Hiring an executive assistant allows you to spend less time on your metaphorical treadmill and more time making forward progress. You can spend your energy moving forward instead of “running in place.” An executive assistant will help you accomplish more in your day while prioritizing and protecting your time against the dreaded treadmill. You will be more successful in less time.

Myth #2: It would be faster to do it myself than train an Executive Assistant.

This is another common excuse that I hear from executives and I have definitely felt this creep in myself at times. Like so many myths, there are some elements of truth to this statement. Doing a task yourself is indeed faster than taking the time to train an executive assistant...if we were talking about any single task. 

Say it would take you 30 minutes to train an executive assistant on how to create the weekly agenda for your team, but it would only take you 5 minutes to do it yourself. So you continually justify putting off the training. However, if you would invest the 30 minutes to train your executive assistant this week, you would save yourself 5 minutes next week when your EA is writing and sending out the weekly updates instead of you. You obviously know where I am going with this. Over the next year, your 30-minute investment would save you over 4 hours. That’s an 8x return on your training/time investment. As a leader, you have hundreds of tasks on your plate that you could be receiving this kind of investment on. Imagine delegating the majority of these tasks to your executive assistant and receiving an 8x return for each of them!

So, yes, it will certainly take time to train your assistant, but the return can be transformative for you. With a good assistant, these tasks will not only be taken off your plate, but they will be done better, more consistently, and more timely than you were able to do them. No more agendas being sent out 5 minutes before the meeting! 

With a good executive assistant, you will get more fulfillment from your role by being able to do more of what only you can do and more of what you love to do. It is an investment, but it is one of the best investments you can make for yourself and for your organization. 

Myth #3: I had a bad Executive Assistant experience in the past, and it isn’t worth the risk to try again.

So maybe at some point, you overcame the first two myths only to have a bad experience when you hired an executive assistant. You probably had an EA that was lacking the correct skill set or was maybe difficult to work with. Either way, it’s understandable that you don’t want to go through that again. I’m sorry that you had a poor experience. However, not every executive assistant will be like that (not even close!) and I highly encourage you to try again.

Let’s say that you hired an accountant that turned out to be a disappointment, and you were forced to let him go in the best interests of the company. If you had a bad accountant, would you never hire an accountant again? Would you start doing all of your company’s accounting yourself just because you had a bad experience? As a leader, you weren’t hired to be an accountant. You were hired because of those special skills you have, the skills that nobody else has. If you did the accounting (no matter how good at it you were), people would be frustrated with you for not making the best use of your time. Instead, you would probably focus on hiring another accountant that was more qualified and a better cultural fit! 

Please don’t let your past executive assistant experiences dictate your future decisions. Just as all accountants are not identical, all executive assistants are not identical. I have met so many amazing EAs looking to assist a great leader, and I promise you that there is an executive assistant out there that can help change your work and your life. 

If you are worried about hiring the wrong executive assistant again, there are definitely things you can do during the hiring process to significantly reduce the risk of that happening. Keep your eyes open over the next few weeks as we start a series on how to hire a great assistant. 

The Takeaway

While the above 3 myths can be scary, don’t allow them to prevent you from hiring one of the best resources for you and your company. A great assistant is critical to your job as a leader. Commit time to the interviewing process and training your executive assistant, then watch your time investment come back 6, 8, or 10x in return! 

Anna’s Comments

Anna McIldoonWhat eye-opening thoughts regarding the myths leaders believe surrounding hiring an executive assistant! Don is clearly outlining concerns I hear daily about why executives are uninterested in moving forward with the executive assistant hire. As I coach through these areas of angst I often urge executives to just give the EA avenue one more chance. You might ask “why would I do that again, it hasn’t worked before!” To which I would respond, “why would you not, this hire could change the trajectory of your success!”

As Don mentioned, across every type of business there is a clear connection between an awesome executive assistant and a successful leader. While there is a notable time investment during the onboarding period, a seasoned executive assistant can help lead through this process making it feel like less of a lift for you (even if you are doing the majority of the training!)

Sure, I can understand feeling as though no one can be as efficient or do something as well as you would do it yourself. But consider this: are things you can delegate to an executive assistant the best use of your time? No! As a business leader or executive you are needed in the Cockpit, not in the Air Traffic Control Tower. The best leaders surround themselves with people who can do a variety of necessary things which allows them to focus on the handful of things that only they can do.

I appreciate Don specifically pointing out the ‘bad past experience’ scenario. This is a risk with any hire you make. The interview process is intentional and thoughtful, but it’s not foolproof. If you find yourself with a bad taste in your mouth from a historically challenging hire consider leaning in to other business peers who have successfully cultivated an efficient and effective executive assistant hire. A great EA will bring unmatched value to your ability to lead and scale. While considering the needs you have to fill the administrative gap in your life, think through things like professional skills and experiences, but also process the soft skills you’ve noticed work well with your leadership style over the years. Sometimes recalibrating the executive assistant illustration is all it takes to find the right colors to bring the image to life!

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Emmre is executive assistant software created by an executive and assistant for executives and assistants. Emmre's mission is to help supercharge productivity and maximize the strategic partnership between executives and executive assistants.

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