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Hiring an Assistant and Synergizing (Part II)

In the last segment we discussed the need for an assistant. Now it is time to move to the areas of recruitment, delegation and synergy.

How do I go about hiring an assistant? First we need to determine what the assistant is going to be doing. This should be determined by a close look at your priorities as well as a look in the mirror. For example, in the accomplishment of your job, what do you like to do and what don’t you like to do? What are you good at accomplishing and what is not your “cup of tea”? You should be hiring to complement your skill-set instead of duplicating it. For example, if technology is a foreign word to you, then your assistant should have a strong technology background. If you don’t like handling customer service calls, then your assistant should be good over the phone.

It is the determination of this necessary set of skills that will help you become more adept at hiring the right match. All too often we hire someone who is familiar but not a great match, even if they are a great “worker.” Not that you don’t want to find a great worker and someone who is reliable.

The mirror exercise will also help you develop the list of responsibilities for the assistant. When you are recruiting, this list will not only help you find the right person, it will help that person determine whether the job is right for them. All too often we hire people and then they are disappointed with the position. This puts us into a cycle turnover that will assure us the position of assistant will not help us reach our long-term goals.

Where do I look for an assistant? The first place to look is right around you. Your potential assistant may be or come from the family or sphere of a previous customer, vendor, referral sources or a co-worker. It may even come from the competition. The same exercise that is required for a great marketing plan, building and marketing your sphere is required for recruiting an assistant. Look at all personal resources and only if these are completely exhausted should you try the route of advertising.

What can I delegate to my assistant? The exercises you went through to determine whether you need an assistant and what set of skills to go after will help you tremendously with the issue of delegation. Basically, what you may delegate will vary depending upon your needs as well as the rules of your industry. In many disciplines licensing regulations may limit the activities of assistants–from real estate to stock brokerage companies.

Beyond the legalities, it is a good idea to determine what actions yield the greatest benefits in terms of the achievement of your long-term goals. In other words, what can the assistant undertake to free your time for more productive or even pleasurable activities?

As we discussed earlier the assistant may also help you within areas in which you are not proficient or just do not prefer to undertake. Whatever you decide to delegate, you must spend the time making sure the assistant knows what is expected (put it in writing) and is trained sufficiently to accomplish the task. When these two requirements are met, you should completely delegate and not stand over their shoulders and “micro-manage” their every move. Make sure delegation is accomplished completely and effectively.

How can I use synergy? There are many ways of integrating synergy into your plans for an assistant. The company or person you hire has a sphere of influence–can you exploit such to increase your own sphere? How can you set up the compensation schedule to reflect this goal? Perhaps you are a real estate agent and you work closely with an accountant. Can you share mailing lists and the expenses necessary to subcontract the work? This may not only lower your costs, but also make you more aware of opportunities to add synergy to your present activities.

In fact, finding an assistant from within your sphere may actually solidify and strengthen an existing referral relationship. Synergy rule number one states “every action should have another objective.” Opening your eyes wider to opportunities in this manner will help you assess additional ways in which an assistant can contribute to your long-term success.