How to Choose an Executive Assistant

Every hiring decision your business makes is an investment; everyone from your Chief Operating Officer to your Receptionist contributes to the success and growth of your business in some capacity.  When you're building your executive team, great care and consideration is put forth in order to build the strongest, most potentially successful team possible.  Each person is particularly chosen for their business know-how, management styles and technical skills.

As your gatekeeper, the executive assistant is one of the most important pieces to your profitability puzzle.  Here are four key qualities to consider when choosing an executive assistant.

Decision Making: An executive assistant is your ambassador.  EAs are your first line of defense and your clients’ first point of contact.  Effective executive assistants understand which decisions can be made without your involvement, such as which follow-up tasks do not require your immediate attention, what actually constitutes an urgent request, and the appropriate venue to have your next client dinner, to name a few.  These may seem relatively rudimentary, but an exceptional EA with the capacity to make independent, educated, aware decisions will save you time, money, and a lot of headaches.

Management: One of the most important qualities of a great gatekeeper is the ability to rapidly identify which situations require action.  Scenario: you are scheduled to take a flight to Rome for a meeting you have the next afternoon.  Due to unforeseen circumstances, your flight has been cancelled.  Your executive assistant must be equipped to quickly understand the next courses of action: finding an alternate flight, email your colleagues in Italy, apologizing for the unexpected road-bump and keeping them abreast of the situation in case the meeting needs to be postponed or rescheduled.  Will you need an extra night at the hotel? Can they accommodate you? Are there any other meetings or action items to address?  Exceptional EAs anticipate next steps at all times.

Execution: The ability to identify when action is needed is meaningless if there is a lack of strong execution.  Your business’s success runs entirely on the ability of your team to execute and deliver high-quality results.  Would you rather an outstanding idea with average execution, or an average idea with outstanding execution?

Skills: Your executive assistant should complement your skills and strengthen your weaknesses.  Choose an EA with advanced technical skills for your highest ROI.  Besides the fundamental skills of drafting business correspondences, reconciling expense reports and understanding the nuances of their client-facing role, invest in an executive assistant with specific skills.  If your team’s PowerPoint presentations could use a little more pizzazz, hiring an EA who is an expert in that area could prove beneficial.  The best EAs are truly the ones who can do it all.