How to Choose an Executive Assistant

— Sep 23, 2013 —

Every hiring decision your business makes is an investment;
everyone from your Chief Operating Officer to your Receptionist contributes to
the success and growth of your business in some capacity.  When you’re building your executive
team
, great care and consideration is put forth in order to build the
strongest, most potentially successful team possible.  Each person is particularly chosen for their
business know-how, management styles and technical skills.

As your gatekeeper, the executive assistant is one of the
most important pieces to your profitability puzzle
.  Here are four key qualities to consider when
choosing an executive assistant.

Decision Making: An
executive assistant is your ambassador. 
EAs are your first line of defense and your clients’ first point of
contact.  Effective executive assistants
understand which decisions can be made without your involvement, such as which
follow-up tasks do not require your immediate attention, what actually constitutes an urgent request,
and the appropriate venue to have your next client dinner, to name a few.  These may seem relatively rudimentary, but an
exceptional EA with the capacity to make independent, educated, aware decisions will save you time,
money, and a lot of headaches.

Management: One
of the most important qualities of a great gatekeeper is the ability to rapidly
identify which situations require action. 
Scenario: you are scheduled to take a flight to Rome for a meeting you
have the next afternoon.  Due to
unforeseen circumstances, your flight has been cancelled.  Your executive assistant must be equipped to
quickly understand the next courses of action: finding an alternate flight,
email your colleagues in Italy, apologizing for the unexpected road-bump and
keeping them abreast of the situation in case the meeting needs to be postponed
or rescheduled.  Will you need an extra
night at the hotel? Can they accommodate you? Are there any other meetings or
action items to address?  Exceptional EAs
anticipate next steps at all times.

Execution: The
ability to identify when action is needed is meaningless if there is a lack of
strong execution.  Your business’s
success runs entirely on the ability of your team to execute and deliver
high-quality results.  Would you rather
an outstanding idea with average execution, or an average idea with outstanding
execution?

Skills: Your
executive assistant should complement your skills and strengthen your
weaknesses.  Choose an EA with advanced technical
skills for your highest ROI.  Besides the
fundamental skills of drafting business correspondences, reconciling expense
reports and understanding the nuances of their client-facing role, invest in an
executive assistant with specific skills. 
If your team’s PowerPoint presentations could use a little more pizzazz,
hiring an EA who is an expert in that area could prove beneficial.  The best EAs are truly the ones who can do it
all.

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