Blog How to Start Delegating to an Executive Assistant

How to Start Delegating to an Executive Assistant

May 2, 2023

9 min read

One of the biggest productivity hacks for executives in the startup world is delegating effectively to an executive assistant.

In this article, we want to show you the ins and outs of delegation: where to start, what tasks to delegate, and how to stay in control of your workload by delegating some responsibilities to your executive assistant.

Table of contents

  • Why is delegating so important?
  • How to decide what to delegate?
  • Checklist to delegate effectively
  • Evaluate your EA’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Make a list of your projects
  • The benefits of having an Executive Assistant
  • Final thoughts


Why is delegating so important?

Delegating tasks to an executive assistant is important because it allows you, as a leader, to focus on strategic tasks that require your expertise and strategic thinking. By delegating to your assistant, you can free up time and energy to focus on more critical aspects of your job, such as developing business strategies, managing projects, and building relationships with key stakeholders.

Delegating to your executive assistant can help build their skills and confidence, enabling them to take on more responsibilities and become a more valuable asset to your organization. It can also help foster a stronger working relationship between you and your assistant, leading to better communication, increased trust, and more efficient collaboration.

Another benefit of delegating tasks to your executive assistant is that, if they are allowed to shadow you at work, they can learn exactly the way you work and replicate your modus operandi. This can be especially valuable for tasks requiring a high level of expertise or projects that significantly impact the organization. By observing how you approach these tasks, your executive assistant can learn best practices, strategies, and techniques, and even learn to think like you.

Decide what tasks to delegate to an Executive Assistant

Many top executives don’t realize the value of executive assistants, often viewing them as a cost rather than an investment. However, executive assistants are vital in increasing their leaders’ productivity and effectiveness.

By hiring an Executive Assistant, you can dedicate more time to strategic decision-making and overseeing the bigger picture of your organization. An Executive Assistant would play a crucial role in freeing you up from administrative tasks, allowing you to focus on growing your company and achieving success.

Executive Assistants can assist with a wide range of responsibilities such as managing schedules, prioritizing essential duties, and supporting any business objectives. Skilled EAs are even able to anticipate their executive’s needs, such as preventing distractions or reminding them of important calls.

Having an EA is like having an extension of yourself on the team which other members can rely on for feedback on certain tasks. By hiring and training competent executive assistants, companies can free up their senior employees to focus on strategic planning and decision-making, resulting in increased efficiency and profitability. Furthermore, executive assistants can serve as trusted advisors to their leaders, providing insights and advice on company operations and culture.

Investing in executive assistants can ultimately lead to a more productive and successful organization.

A bullet-proof mental checklist to ensure effective delegating

Set clear expectations and goals

  • Be specific about what you want to achieve, and why it’s important.
  • Communicate the expectations clearly and regularly
  • Provide support and resources to help achieve the goals.

Provide detailed instructions and guidelines

  • Break down the task or process into clear and manageable steps.
  • Provide visual aids or examples to help illustrate the instructions.
  • Include specific guidelines for quality standards and any important considerations

Encourage open communication

  • Encourage active listening and avoid interrupting or dismissing others’ perspectives.
  • Regularly seek feedback and ask open-ended questions to promote dialogue and understanding.

Monitor progress and provide feedback

  • Set clear and measurable goals with specific metrics for success.
  • Regularly check in on progress, provide constructive feedback, and adjust the plan as needed.
  • Celebrate successes and acknowledge areas for improvement to encourage continued growth and development.

Check-in regularly with your Executive Assistant

  • Give them access to your calendar so they can tackle tasks before you even think about them.
  • Schedule regular check-ins depending on your preferences. You can have a 10-minute meeting 3 times per week or a 30-minute meeting once a week and arrange the rest asynchronously. It all depends on your style and how you work best.
  • Reassess your calendar, discuss priorities and shifts in your workload.

Download our free Notion template and start delegating effectively now.

Evaluate your Executive Assistant’s strengths and weaknesses

Before delegating a task to your executive assistant, analyze her level of expertise in different areas. Decide what kind of tasks you require more assistance with and determine if your EA is capable of carrying out those responsibilities. Here you can find some thorough assessments you can ask your EA to take, based on which tasks you want her to take on. If you still want to get more information on them, these are all really great tools to get more in-depth information on specific personality traits.

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): a personality assessment tool that can help you understand your assistant’s preferences for communication, decision-making, and problem-solving.
  • DiSC Assessment: helps you identify areas where your assistant may excel or need improvement.
  • 360-degree feedback: gather feedback from colleagues, managers, and customers.
  • Skills assessments: such as typing speed, software proficiency, and language proficiency.
  • Emotional intelligence assessments: evaluate your assistant’s emotional intelligence, including their ability to recognize and manage emotions, empathize with others, and build relationships.
  • Critical thinking assessments: measure your assistant’s ability to analyze information, solve problems, and make decisions effectively.

When you know how capable your EA is, you know how much you can delegate, ensuring that the results are as high as if you had carried out the task yourself.

List out your daily projects

Make a comprehensive list of all the projects you’re working on and identify which ones your EA could take on. These are some tasks you could start delegating right now:

  • Recurring tasks: checking your email, updating your calendar, completing reports, or preparing presentations.
  • Tasks in areas with often-changing regulations: compliance reporting, safety protocols, and record-keeping.
  • Time-consuming tasks: booking flights, choosing restaurants for meetings, planning business trips, and other small tasks that may seem minor but can quickly add up and consume valuable time.
  • Data-transferring tasks: moving projects from one platform to the other, migrating data-bases when changing software services.
  • Tasks someone can learn from: building a website with basic HTML knowledge, to strengthen their skillset.
  • Specialized tasks that fit someone else’s expertise: interviewing candidates, designing your new advertising campaign.
  • Interesting and fun tasks for motivation: choosing the destination of an offsite event, coming up with ideas for employee compensation and benefits.
  • Tasks that are not your responsibility: if you’re in the Marketing department, leave the budget monitoring to the CFO.

The benefits of having an EA

Executive assistants can be especially valuable for startup executives who often face high-pressure situations and have a lot on their plate. By delegating administrative tasks to an executive assistant, startup leaders can have more time and mental bandwidth to focus on growing their businesses and making critical decisions.

In addition to handling administrative tasks, executive assistants can provide startup executives with valuable support and guidance. As startups often operate with limited resources, an experienced executive assistant can help with important tasks like hiring, managing finances, and developing business strategies.

An executive assistant’s role depends a lot on what their executive is willing to delegate and to which aspects of their workload they want to give access to, but good EAs can help you with, at least five huge aspects from the moment they start:

  • Optimal time management: An EA can help you prioritize your tasks, manage your schedule, and handle administrative duties, allowing you to focus on higher-level tasks and strategic decision-making.
  • Enhance efficiency: An EA can streamline your workflow and help you work more efficiently by handling routine tasks, such as email and calendar management, and by anticipating your needs and offering solutions proactively.
  • Strategic support: An EA can provide you with assistance, such as handling travel arrangements, preparing reports and presentations, and managing communication with stakeholders.
  • Broader expertise: An EA can bring expertise and skills to the table that complement your own, such as project management, research, or technical skills.
  • Stress reduction: An EA can help you manage your workload and reduce your stress level by providing support, assistance, and guidance.

Overall, hiring an executive assistant can be a smart investment for startup executives looking to streamline their operations, increase productivity, and gain a trusted partner to help navigate the challenges of building a successful company.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, delegation is a crucial skill for any executive who wants to increase productivity and achieve success. By delegating tasks effectively, you can free up time to focus on higher-level tasks and strategic decision-making, and you can empower your team members to develop their skills and take ownership of their work.

To start delegating, assess your workload and identify tasks that can be delegated. Build trust with your team members by giving them autonomy and ownership of their tasks, providing support and resources, and encouraging open communication. Communicate your expectations clearly, provide guidance as needed, and be willing to delegate tasks even if it means letting go of some control. Remember, effective delegation is a win-win situation for both you and your team, and it is an essential component of successful leadership.

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