A Great Assistant can take your productivity to a whole new level. The wise leader will spend as much time as possible on his top priorities and hand off everything else. But to whom will you hand things off? You need a trustworthy, competent assistant. Hiring an assistant is one of the best decisions that you can make. So how do you find and hire a great assistant? Here are four qualities to look for in hiring an assistant:
1. A Great Assistant Is Not Above Menial Tasks
An arrogant assistant will never be a good assistant. The whole reason that you need an assistant is to hand off tasks that are not the best use of your time. You need an assistant who EMBRACES menial tasks, not one who only TOLERATES them. You need an assistant who sees carrying out simple tasks as critical to the overall mission. You need an assistant who enjoys serving you in whatever capacity you need. Make sure to discuss this when you interview a potential assistant. In the interview process, ask questions about the kind of work that the person likes to do and enjoys doing. Look for humility, willingness, and desire to perform whatever tasks are necessary to best serve both you and the organization.
2. A Great Assistant Has a High Capacity
A spectacular assistant has both the humility to do basic tasks but also the competence to perform at a high level. You are looking for a person who can plan events, negotiate deals, and manage projects. If your assistant can do only what you tell him and no more, you will become hesitant to trust him with anything other than a basic to-do list. How can you assess competence in the interview process? Everyone tries to sound omni-competent in a job interview. I have never interviewed a person who was willing to admit that he was a low capacity performer. The best way to assess competence is to look at what a person has done in the past. Past performance is the best indicator of future performance. If a person has not shown in the past that she can do what you need to be done, then you are taking a big risk when hiring.
3. A Great Assistant is Willing to Have Hard Conversations
An assistant who avoids conflict is not going to serve you well. You need an assistant who can engage in difficult conversations, negotiate, and say no when necessary. A people-pleasing assistant will cause you more trouble than he is worth. Look for an assistant who will willingly engage in conflict whenever needed.
4. A Great Assistant Knows How to Find and Ask for Help
An assistant’s job is not to do all of the work herself but to find a way to get the job done. You don’t want an assistant to waste 20 hours on a task in which she has little skill. A qualified assistant is willing to find the right help to get a job done. The willingness to find people to get things done is far better than laboring for hours in an area where you are unskilled.