How To Delegate To An Assistant Or Executive Secretary

By Gene Griessman, Ph.D.

I cannot think of anything that will help you more than to hire the right executive secretary or executive assistant.  The leverage you can achieve will be astonishing.  My executive assistant, Donovin Freeman, who has been with me for years, is just wonderful.  We don’t even have to meet face-to-face for him to do what I don’t want to do or can’t do well (i.e., technology).

As a university professor and administrator, I was able to accomplish far more than I had any right to expect because I had fantastic executive secretaries.

My distinguished friend and colleague Dr. Melvin Kranzberg, who was Callaway Professor of History of Technology at Georgia Tech, once told me that Georgia Tech could quadruple its output if it gave every professor his/her own secretary:  “Just knowing that there was a secretary sitting at a desk outside the office every morning waiting for something to do would rouse even the most lethargic professor to action.  And it would enable the diligent professors to avoid administrative trivia.”

But not just university professors.  I recommend that sales people on commission hire an assistant, even if their company doesn’t pay for it.  The increase in commissions will more than compensate for any personal outlay.  Keep these points in mind:

*One.  Hire very, very carefully.  One way to do this is to use a temp agency. Try out the new hire before you make a long-term commitment.  Don’t make a final decision until you find just the right person, and then pay the agency fee to turn the short-term project into a permanent hire.

*Two. Do regular one-on-one sessions.  It is critical that he/she understand how you think.  And you need to understand how he/she thinks.  You need to be sure that he/she sees to it that you talk to the people whom you consider important, pays attention to paper and emails that you consider high priority, and screens out what you would screen out yourself.  Your priorities need to be understood at a very deep level.

*Three.  Provide a safety valve for pent-up feelings.  I regularly ask if there is anything I have done or am doing that is annoying or unproductive.  Several times I have heard about my mannerisms or habits, and I made appropriate changes.    My executive secretaries/assistants have asked me to provide the same kind of feedback for them.  These sessions keep resentments from festering.

*Four.  Create a priority system that works. A common complaint of secretaries/assistants is that their bosses give them multiple tasks but don’t give them priorities.  My personal system is to assign a number to every task, ranking it from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest).

*Five. Create a task list for your secretary/assistant.  You are already making task lists for yourself—at least, I hope you are.   Give serious thought to ways that you can make the most of your executive assistant/secretary.

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“Not only does Griessman give us Lincoln quotes, but he also weaves each one into a little jewel of an essay on that particular subject. In addition, this small volume contains “Biographical Notes” on the main figures cited and also a Bibliography of the sources quoted.” —Wayne C. Temple, world-renowned Lincoln scholar, critic, and author, Illinois State Archives

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In these pages, Lincoln, famed as an orator, shares his wisdom on courage and determination, compassion and compromise, tolerance and tact—the essential traits that define character. The timeless impact of his words is as powerful as the achievements that have helped to make him an American hero.

Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “TheWords Lincoln Lived By” is in its 23rd printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd printing. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions and annual meetings all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225. Learn more at Atlanta Speakers Bureau or at his website. His latest book “Lincoln and Obama” has just been released by Audible.
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