Tips for Being an Effective Manager

When you hire a personal assistant, you must transition from managing only yourself to managing someone else’s work and performance. For some people, this can be a big change. Here are some helpful guidelines on being an effective manager and establishing a good working relationship with your personal assistant.

Offer Regular Feedback

It’s essential to have regular performance reviews with your assistants so they can understand what is expected of them and what they need to do to excel. It’s a mistake to put off a problem until the next review period. By that time, a minor problem may become a habit. And if assistants don’t know that you’re dissatisfied with some aspect of their work, they cannot be expected to improve. Establish a weekly work-status meeting and use that time with your assistant to address any concerns you have. Specifically:

  • Calmly explain the problem.
  • Ask your assistant for feedback on any areas that may be creating difficulty.
  • Review the procedure again to be sure your assistant understands it.
  • Set specific improvement goals.
  • Decide on a time to talk about the problem again and evaluate progress.

Remember that feedback can — and should — include positive comments. Take a minute to praise an assistant for a job well done and you’ll be rewarded with great performance.

Conduct a Performance Review

After hiring an assistant, you should schedule formal reviews after 30, 60, and 90 days. After that, reviews can take place every six to 12 months.

Evaluate specific areas of your assistants’ performance, such as:

  • Meeting deadlines
  • Quality of work
  • Quantity of work
  • Initiative
  • Communication skills
  • Attitude

It’s also useful to establish some specific goals you want your assistant to meet. For example, you may want your assistant to mail 200 marketing letters a month or complete a course on basic Web design. Be as specific as possible in creating goals; use exact numbers and deadlines whenever possible. Once assistants have been on the job for three months, involve them in setting goals.

When you conduct a review, allocate time without interruptions to talk with your assistant. Talk frankly, but be sensitive to the assistant’s comments and feelings. Don’t dwell on faults during a performance review. Focus on triumphs as well as areas that need improvement. Also, remember that the review is a two-way conversation; give the assistant time to address areas of your behavior that create barriers to job performance.

Finally, take notes and keep them in your assistant’s personnel file. This will give you a reference for the next review and provide support in case legal issues arise.

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