10 Ways to Get More From Your Personal Assistant

March 1, 2007

Assistants are there to help you, not add to your workload. Anna Baron, cofounder of the International Real Estate Assistants Association in Mineola, Texas, offers these suggestions for getting the most from the relationship.

1. Communicate your needs. Create task lists detailing what you need done, along with the time frame in which you expect them to be done. Baron recommends that you create two lists one for tasks you expect the assistant to accomplish daily and the other for tasks the assistant should accomplish over the long term to help you meet your annual goals.

2. Stay out of the weeds. Once you’ve told your assistant what you need, get out of the way. “You have to assign a project with a very clear expectation of your goals, but then you have to let go,” says Baron.

3. Don’t treat your assistant like “the help.” Show your appreciation and loyalty by investing in your assistant’s education and training.

4. Evaluate priorities. Set priorities, which are often dictated by the market, says Baron. For instance, as use of the Internet grows, search engine optimization is becoming more important to ensure that your site is appearing in the top 10 search results. Or a goal may be to update your marketing materials. “Set long-range goals, and then sit down with your assistant every quarter to reevaluate,” says Baron.

5. Provide scripts. Scripts help your assistant handle consumer questions, especially the frequently asked ones. But your assistant doesn’t need to deliver them verbatim. “Your assistant should study them so that the delivery sounds natural to potential clients over the phone,” Baron says.

6. Provide training for the tools you buy. Baron says practitioners are often happy to buy tools to help assistants improve office efficiency, but they sometimes fail to get assistants the training needed to use the tools.

7. Get your assistant involved right away. Ask your assistant for help on projects right from the beginning. A big complaint Baron hears from assistants is that many practitioners try to handle everything themselves, then ask for help at the last minute. “That creates a huge rush to get things done immediately and turns the office upside down,” she says.

8. Give your assistant more responsibility. “Most practitioners should be using assistants for a whole lot more,” says Baron. “Delegation helps you organize, and it lowers the blood pressure in the office.”

9. Meet regularly. Sit down quarterly with your assistant to discuss short and long term goals and projects. Allow your assistant to provide feedback on which tasks should be done more or less frequently.

10. Provide feedback. Regularly review your assistant’s performance to provide input on which areas need improvement and to allow your assistant to tell you where you can improve. “Both people have to understand each other and work together to build and maintain a successful business,” says Baron.

Source: International Real Estate Assistants Association (ireaa.com), Mineola, Texas