How Long Does it Take to Train an Executive Assistant?
— Dec 20, 2019 —
Whether you’re getting ready to hire an executive assistant or the hiring process is just wrapping up, you might be wondering how long it will take until your executive assistant is ready to go. If you need an executive assistant in the first place, chances are, you have a pretty demanding professional schedule, so it’s important to have a grasp on how long the training process should take and when your assistant will be up to speed.
Don’t Skimp on Training
You might be impatient and ready for your new assistant to hit the ground running, but studies show that 40% of employees who receive poor or no training leave within the first year of employment. So, to keep yourself from ending up in a horrible cycle of hiring and losing potentially great executive assistants, train your new employee right the first time around.
While the exact length of an executive assistant training schedule varies significantly from company to company and role to role, depending on the intricacy of the tasks required, you should expect that it will take at least a couple of months for your new employee to be fully up to speed. This isn’t to say that your executive assistant won’t be able to help you out with a wide variety of tasks early on, but it will take a bit before the process works as seamlessly as it eventually will.
Hire the Right Type of Employee for You
The first thing to consider when it comes to total training time is matching the right person with the role. Depending on the nature of the job, the culture of the company, and the style and responsibilities of the person the assistant reports to, some executive assistant candidates will be better suited than others for a position in your company.
Consider whether you need someone who has a very specific skill set, particularly as it relates to fluency with certain software or knowledge of specifics within an industry. If so, while recruiting, provide testing to ensure that knowledge is up to snuff.
Or, if the position deals with a whole lot of responsibilities but nothing so specific that it has to already be in the candidate’s wheelhouse, consider getting someone who is more like a great all-around athlete — ready to step in and learn everything quickly across the board. Personality testing is a great way to ensure a candidate has the character traits you’re looking for in an executive assistant.
Lastly, make sure you’ve properly communicated everything about what the job entails. A great executive assistant hiring process starts with writing a great job description, and continues with transparency and communication throughout the recruiting and interview process. Otherwise, you might end up with someone who has a lot of great skills and qualities and would be the perfect executive assistant for someone, but not for you. They need to be happy just as much as you need to be! The right fit is essential to avoiding turnover early on.
Onboard Fully and Train Strategically
Create an executive assistant onboarding and training schedule ahead of time. If you run a large firm and have an HR department, they will already have much of this laid out, but if you are on your own, treat it with as much diligence as an HR professional would. It’s okay if you aren’t exactly sure how long each area of the executive assistant’s job will take to teach and learn — just make your best guess and adjust as needed. A fully fleshed-out schedule that you change as you go along is much better than no schedule at all!
Also, when you write everything down and schedule it out, you might realize that there is more to go over than you thought (there usually is). It’s good to be realistic about this right away, so that if you need to enlist support from other staff members with training, you can do so with advanced notice, and you don’t end up spending weeks of your valuable time teaching tasks a more entry-level employee could have helped you with.
Once you have the right person hired and your executive assistant onboarding and training plans are mapped out, you’re ready to bring your new employee in. The onboarding process is sometimes overlooked, while all of the focus goes into training a new employee on their job duties. Onboarding encompasses all of those things that are critical to getting your new employee started on the right foot. It is key to make sure your employee feels welcomed and at home in their new work environment. There are few things worse than being the new person somewhere and being thrown straight into work mode without even having a chance to meet your coworkers or tour the office.
A thorough onboarding process, complete with things like a “meet and greet” breakfast or lunch for the new hire will set things off on the right foot. Introduce your new executive assistant to the culture of your company along with their tasks, so that they feel like they are a part of things and will feel more inclined to ask appropriate parties for help when questions arise.
Have everything set up for your new executive assistant when they first arrive. Make sure that their computer, work station, and access to necessary software is all ready to go. Help them learn the layout of the office by providing an office map with the names of people sitting at each desk. Especially if they are going to be working with everyone, or performing tasks like distributing mail, this will help them get acclimated more quickly.
When it comes to executive assistant training, keep in mind that your new assistant is learning a whole lot at once. Make sure they are taking notes, but also try to schedule the days so that you’re not throwing a million complicated things at them all at once. Any new knowledge requires repetition to be properly stored in long-term memory, so after you show your assistant how to do something, give them a chance to try out the task a few times — don’t just move straight onto the next thing.
Regularly express that questions are welcomed and keep communication lines open. Schedule regular check-ins to discuss how everything is going and whether there are any areas that need some additional training. As the training period ends and your executive assistant starts working without as much supervision, continue to check in here and there, and ask for feedback about the training process.
If you are ready to bring a new executive assistant into your company and need some help creating an onboarding plan, C-Suite Assistants can help! Our expert recruiters can not only help find you the perfect executive assistant for you, but can also help ensure a smooth transition into working for your company. Contact us today to learn more.
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