Blog Is it time to hire an executive assistant? 7 questions to ask

Is it time to hire an executive assistant? 7 questions to ask

May 3, 2023

7 min read

Is it time to hire an executive assistant? This question may have multiple answers depending on the round that your startup is in, (it’s not the same for Seed as for Series D companies). This is why we curated this list with 7 questions to ask to know when it’s time to hire an executive assistant. This list is based on the existing pain points of executives from some of the fastest-growing startups in the United States.

Hiring an executive assistant (EA) can be as critical as hiring other crucial roles for your company. Just like a revenue operations manager would enable you to get more from your team by driving accurate data, so would an executive assistant by getting things off your plate so that you get more time out of the week, making sure that nothing is overlooked.

An executive assistant procures time for you, along with organizational techniques that keep your calendar functional and your inbox empty. An executive assistant helps you get things done.

After understanding everything that a startup executive tries to accomplish in a single day or week, we commend them for their resilience. But sometimes that soundness resonates with bringing a highly-functional individual to the team. Someone they can trust to improve their productivity and get more things done every day. An EA aims to support you by reducing your workload so that you can lead your team to the next round.

Table of contents:

  • 7 questions to ask to know when it’s time to hire an executive assistant
  • How can Viva support you in hiring and onboarding EAs in <24 hours

7 questions to ask to know when it’s time to hire an executive assistant

This curated list is built on well-known pain points from startup execs that are scaling their companies, they are fast-paced individuals who enjoy working with like-minded staff. We picked seven questions that respond to the most common challenges but the list of support areas extends to even more.

1. Has your inbox become unmanageable?

You spend more time answering emails than leading your company and still your inbox is absolutely crammed with emails. A constant flow of hundreds of emails makes this task unmanageable. You talk to colleagues or team members about this and everyone agrees that the email load is too much to handle and that your replies take too long to reach everyone’s inbox. A usual sign that your communication is slowly starting to break down is when it takes you more than 24 hours to reply back to internal emails.

An executive assistant can help you reach inbox zero, a technique that involves prioritizing, filtering, and delegating emails to restore your peace of mind and most importantly, to get the work done. Instead of waking up every morning dreading seeing your inbox imagine having just your team emails, filtered by level of urgency ready for you to respond to, no spam, and drafted emails for other categories ready for you to just send.

You can rise knowing that your inbox will be taken care of, even better than you would yourself.

2. Does the phrase “work-life integration” feel like sarcasm?

Mostly everyone is battling to find a balance between work and whatever activity they have going on in the background. It could be a spouse, children, hobbies, exercising, spiritual activities, the list goes on. If you have stopped searching for that integration with your work, believing it impossible or unattainable, you need to hire an executive assistant.

A great EA is able to understand what is most important for you and help you delegate enough work, schedule time to get to that parent-teacher conference, or even find exercise routines that make sense to you. Finding that balance or integration is not something that you need to do alone, getting help actually helps.

3. Are you feeling overwhelmed all the time?

Your team is starting to notice because you are multi-tasking in meetings, struggling to pay attention because you’re worried you missed an email or forgot an action item.

Being a leader and feeling overwhelmed are not mutually dependent. It is possible to lead a company to generate revenue without having to feel emotionally compromised all the time. An EA’s organizational and prioritization skills are a great support to help executives lead their teams in more collected ways.

Leading with calmness is an acquired skill that in time, and with the proper support, all executives can accomplish.

4. Is your calendar managing you instead of the other way around?

When looking at your calendar you either need to clone yourself, not once but many times over, to be able to attend every meeting, or in a different scenario, you’ve no idea what comes next, existing in a perpetual state of chaos. Double or triple bookings, unnecessary syncs, outdated socials, and recurring meetings that you don’t need to be part of, keep filling up the space you should use for actual work.

“If you don’t manage your calendar, your calendar will manage you,” says Adnan Khan, Co-Ceo of Viva.

An EA is an expert in the art of crafting calendars by scheduling appointments, setting focus time, prioritizing meetings, assigning a time for everything, and even attending meetings on your behalf. They would use techniques like calendar compartmentalization to achieve this goal. Some executives like to take it a step forward and have themed days like Mondays for external meetings only, Fridays for 1:1s specifically, and so on with the rest of the week.

5. Do you wish you had a high-performing individual you could trust to get things off your plate?

Delegating is an acquired competence and part of its process is having a team that you can trust to produce great results. It wouldn’t make sense to ask another executive to book your flights or manage your calendar, so delegating to a team member who is available and able, like an EA, with their main focus on supporting you, can be a life changer.

A strong EA can help you identify areas of improvement in your processes, like compliance issues on your national operations, across state laws and policies. They can also help you manage your team from hiring processes to organizing training and team socials.

6. Do you need time to do deep work on a daily basis?

Deep work time is an uninterrupted block of time in your calendar designed to give you space to work. It facilitates deep focus and allows executives to complete pending tasks, make decisions, or become informed in matters crucial to their companies.

This space can be as long and often as the executive decides it to be. Some use it to catch up on time-sensitive emails or reply to any communication that requires personal engagement.

At Viva, we recommend that you set a time for deep work at the start of every day, to understand what your calendar looks like, and what are your priorities, and begin your day with an intentional mindset.

An EA can support you in diminishing marginal returns of direct reports once you get past five reports. An EA helps you save time so that you are able to operate with 6 or 7 direct reports as if you only had 5 because you are being so effective with your time.

7. Are you getting enough out of your executive team?

If you are feeling overwhelmed with an unmanageable inbox, your calendar is running you, instead of the other way around, and you are constantly feeling overwhelmed, chances are that the rest of your team is on the same track.

If that is the case, your team of executives is underperforming because they are using their skills, resources, and time on tasks that can be delegated to lower management.

Instead of hiring another executive, try the do more with less approach by hiring an executive assistant that will help improve the productivity of your existing team, at a fraction of an executive’s compensation.

Working through an agency that works remotely also means that you get to cut costs on expenses like equipment, benefits, and severance packages which are dealt with by the contractor.

And, in the “doing more with less” narrative, you and your team of executives will actually do more with the same amount of time.

Imagine the potential of productive work that your executive team could be doing with a team of executive assistants supporting every area like operations, admin, HR, or even engineering. A team of executive assistants aims to provide value by being proactive and providing perspective from someone who knows your business and has an analytical eye for process improvement. Wouldn’t you want your entire executive team to operate just as effectively?

Sometimes the secret to success is hiding in plain sight in the form of efficient growth. Our proposal is to add executive assistants to your growth model, in favor of your company’s productivity. Growing efficiently requires strategic thinking and finding ways to improve your team’s performance by getting them hyper-focused and a great way to accomplish this is with a team of EAs supporting individuals at the executive level.

How can Viva support you in hiring and onboarding EAs in <24 hours

Once you’ve realized about the numerous benefits of having an executive assistant join your team, where do you start? This might even feel a little overwhelming if you are thinking about onboarding a full team of EAs.

At Viva, we hire and train top talent to have them ready to be onboarded in <24 hours, even if what you need is an entire team of executive assistants. Our vetting process is efficient, with high expectations, and our training is ongoing and effective, resulting in well-trained individuals who perform at a high level. This process allows us to match executives with high-performing executive assistants who are able to perform tasks efficiently, organizing, prioritizing, and enabling productivity across the organization.

Book a call today to understand how our solution can be tailored to meet your needs and expectations.

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