A considerable amount of an assistant’s work is correspondence—whether it’s managing relationships with vendors, responding to your employees, or representing your point-of-view in meetings you can’t attend. In other words, the transfer of communication to your assistant means they are the new point-of-contact for many people in your professional sphere.
Your assistant will be building relationships on your behalf, so it’s important to introduce them to the right people and provide them with helpful context.
We compiled several thoughtful, but simple best practices that will set your assistant up for success and embed them in your work.
External contacts and vendors
Your assistant needs context when it comes to taking responsibility for the tasks you delegate. A great first step in ensuring they have what they need is to compile a list of the external people and vendors they will be working with. Look at the actual work you’ll be passing off, your emails, and your calendar to come up with a contact list.
In most cases, you’ll be able to delegate introductions to your assistant—encourage them to reach out to the contacts on the list you provide, introducing themselves as the new point of contact. There may be some external people or vendors who are high-value or perhaps require a level of privacy or sensitivity. For those relationships, write a personal introductory email or set up a call between the three of you. This signals to your contact that they are important and that you trust your assistant to maintain and nurture the communication rapport you’ve already built.
Company, team, and employees
If your assistant will be handling internal duties for your company, you need to introduce them to your team. This way, your assistant will feel included and will save time introducing themselves individually.
Whether your assistant will be working with your team frequently or sporadically, it’s a good best practice to be transparent and communicative whenever possible.
You can introduce your assistant to your team by:
- Making an announcement on Slack
- Sending a company-wide email
- Carving out time at your all hands meeting
- Utilizing the traditional way your company typically introduces new hires
You can also give your assistant a list of specific people you recommend they speak with 1:1. These can be employees your assistant will be working closely with or people who can give them insight about the company and culture or to answer internal-specific questions.
Boundary and expectation setting
Sometimes a point-of-contact or teammate may ask your assistant to perform a task or project that is outside of their duties and responsibilities. In those moments, your assistant will have to decide whether it’s under their purview or whether they should decline the request.
It’s important to have a conversation up front with your assistant about their role specifications and their priorities, so they feel confident and empowered to make tough decisions without roping you into a conversation. Here are some common gray areas you may want to directly address:
- Scheduling for other members of your team
- Project managing cross-functional initiatives
- Planning events and organizing team building activities
- Supporting team members with administrative work such as creating presentations or filing expenses
Encourage your assistant to use their best judgement based on their goals of supporting you and the businesses. But remember to add the caveat that you are their resource if they need guidance or have had a difficult or uncomfortable conversation with one of your employees.
Passing off the responsibility of becoming the point person for colleagues or vendors to an assistant isn’t difficult as long as you provide context, make or encourage introductions, and set a groundwork of expectations. A great assistant will be able to strengthen those bonds, reliably communicate, and maintain the trust you’ve already built.