The Real Reason You Can’t Find a Good Assistant

Finding a good fit for an open position is always going to be a process, no matter what the current hiring climate is like. You have to write the perfect job listing, post it in the right places to get traction, sort through the dozens (or even hundreds!) of resumes, set up interviews and narrow down the candidate pool. It’s a lot of work. In an ideal scenario, you find the right fit, onboard them and you don’t have to worry about going through that process again for several years. But for some business owners, the road to finding a good assistant is a rocky one and it is no fault of the employees that they hire. In fact, I have seen many owners lose some really talented assistants due to this one reason. So today, I want to address why even the best assistant might not be a good fit for you and your business.

It’s you.

The first step to finding the right fit is to understand yourself. You need to know what makes you tick. What you like when it comes to a working relationship, what you hate, and what you are willing to change in order to find an assistant that will help you grow as a leader. Because a great assistant might not be a great assistant for you, if you aren’t compatible. You also want to take into consideration your business and working style. A great assistant in a law firm might make a really crummy personal assistant for someone in a creative field. So, finding someone that understands your market is a plus.

I am an introvert by nature. The majority of my staff works remotely, except for my assistant who comes in a few days a week. In the past, I have hired some really smart assistants who had a lot going for them, but they couldn’t handle the fact that I kept to myself. I would come in, get the mail, maybe ask a few questions regarding my schedule and then head to my office where they might not hear from me again for several hours. And some people struggled with that. I had one in particular who was always asking me if I was upset with them. And I couldn’t figure out why at first, until I realized that silence to them meant that something was wrong. It wasn’t their fault, I just didn’t take into account my own work style when I hired them for the position. You might be the opposite. Maybe you hire an assistant who likes to keep things orderly and have a quiet workplace and you thrive on activity and chaos. There is nothing wrong with your work style, but you need to find others that can work with your working style.

Your communication style.

Another thing you need to think about when you hire someone new for your team is their communication style. Everyone has a preference when it comes to how they like to get information. Do you like to get lists via email, do you use a project manager, do you want a verbal play by play of a project, or do you prefer another method? Most assistants can work in any medium that works for you, but if you aren’t in touch with your own styles of communication it can cause issues down the road. Say your assistant is always coming in and verbally giving you updates on projects, and you are often busy with other things and only digest a bit of what they share with you on a daily basis. Over time you may feel like that assistant isn’t keeping you updated on progress or important topics, because you haven’t seen any updates in the project management tool. If you aren’t aware of your own preferences, you might come to the conclusion that they aren’t a good fit for the position, when in reality it’s just the fact that you didn’t tell them how you like to receive information.

The more you know about yourself and the way you work, the more likely you are to find an assistant that fits in with your business. Good luck!

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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