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Setting Expectations with a New Assistant

Working with a new assistant can be challenging for a professional woman, especially if priorities aren’t set early on in the relationship. Each of you comes into the situation with ideas for how to get the work done, but as the manager, you’ll need to establish best practices or risk making the job much more difficult for your assistant – if not yourself. Here are some tips for how to best set expectations:

Communicate objectives. Sit down with your new administrative professional on or near his or her first day and point out which assignments are more important than others, based on the job description. For instance, maybe "preparing travel arrangements" comes up only a few times a year, while "ordering office supplies" is a regular responsibility. By having these priorities established initially, you can help your assistant remain challenged and motivated.

Monitor expectations. Set aside time on a regular basis to sit down with your administrative professional and revisit established objectives, determining if they are being met. If creating PowerPoint presentations is introducing challenges, could the individual benefit from a class to learn more advanced techniques? This meeting also gives you an opportunity to discuss your support staff’s professional goals, to see if they are being met, and if other goals need to be established as well.

Be flexible. If, during these meetings, you or your administrative professional realizes that your expectations are not as practicable as you had first envisioned, you both need to figure out how to resolve that issue. This is where flexibility becomes important. Be willing to re-evaluate priorities if difficulties occur and see if there’s a way to meet in the middle. If your assistant needs to leave early two times a week to pick the kids up from school, consider allowing the person to come in early those days even if your company doesn’t generally allow a flexible work schedule.

If both you and your assistant openly discuss expectations, make sure they are being met and tweak them as needed, your work relationship will flourish and you’ll both be doing your part to help your company thrive as well.

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