10 Tips for Getting the Most From Your Assistant

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My friend and colleague Lisa Scheppelmann is herself an awesome assistant and she knows the ropes! She wrote these guidelines as part of a presentation and I asked her if I could publish her brilliance and share it with my network. She said yes and here they are; 9 tips for an excellent assistant relationship plus tip #10 from the diva! 1. Email:

Set your assistant up with his/her own email address. I recommend that you set it up with a role-based name like office@georgeclooney.com instead of a personalized email lisa@georgeclooney.com. A role-based email insures that if you don’t always have the same assistant, you don’t have to create a new email address and the transition feels more seamless to your clients.

2. Appointments / Scheduling:

Share your calendar with your assistant. Outlook and Google calendars can be shared; this is ideal since you should delegate appointment making to your assistant as often as possible.

3. Protocol:

Have one of the first jobs your assistant does be creating a protocol book. As he/she learns how you like things done, when they should be done or favorite vendors, assemble the steps to each task and put them in a binder. Should your assistant quit or be fired you will then know all the steps that are taken to complete tasks, contact information for vendors, and due dates for bills.

4. Review of work:

Have your assistant save/share items they are working on in Dropbox or Google Docs so that you can check the status of a project without having to ask them. Also, have them keep a timeline of each project in the project’s folder.

5. Decision making: Empower your assistant to make decisions.

Set a spending limit, say of $100. If you ask your assistant to do a task/buy something for the office, empower them to make under $100 purchases without your approval.

6. Efficiency: Empower your assistant to utilize available resources to maximize his/her time:

- Planning travel and you have an Amex card? Have your assistant call the Amex Travel Concierge and have them research best flights/hotels/rentals. Your assistant can manage the project, but the concierge is doing all of the research.

- Have them take any large printing/collating/assembly jobs to a local printer. Have them call a few shops to get the best quote to have the shop do the work. It often makes more sense for the shop to do the work than to pay your assistant to copy/assemble. Again, your assistant is managing the project, but the shop is doing the work.

- Have your assistant use shortcuts for jobs like shipping (the app Shyp is a great resource), Amazon Prime for quick delivery of goods/free shipping (you can share your yearly membership with a friend to cut the price in half).

7. Trust: Give them ownership

To get the most from having an assistant, you must trust them. Once you have built trust, start giving them ownership of projects from beginning to end.

8. Communication:

Find the way that works best for you and your assistant to communicate and be consistent. I strongly recommend a weekly half hour meeting to discuss upcoming projects, questions, and updates about existing projects.

9. Follow Up:

Put your assistant in charge of client follow up: thank you notes, holiday cards, etc. Your assistant doesn’t need to write the cards, but getting the addressed/stamped card in front of you and making sure it gets sent in a timely manner is helpful and makes you shine.

10. Technology:

If you are not a technology guru, make sure your assistant knows more than you do and has the tenacity it takes to solve technology issues or can find the help you need.

You can reach Lisa at: lisa@totallyswell.com 415-328-1684 www.totallyswell.com/lisa/