Your administrative assistant is the most important person you will hire (which you may have figured out from chapter 14). I make this statement with confidence, as the result of trial and error. Your admin, to be effective, must be in the position to peer into the inner workings of both your head and your bank account. As a result, he or she will see you in a different light from your other employees. Your admin should consciously and unconsciously represent you and your company to the world. He or she witnesses firsthand your fears, weaknesses, concerns, strengths, opportunities, and hopes. If your admin has bought into the vision and is naturally confident, he or she can and will carry a good portion of your load, diverting or deflecting lesser challenges. Your admin will literally make the difference between success and failure.
Have you ever called your doctor’s office only to be answered by a grumpy receptionist? What about the time you walked into an office and the first person you met was rude and indifferent to you? Now think about the time you encountered a cheerful, competent, intelligent individual sitting in that “first-impression chair.” How did you feel in each situation? How do you want people in consumer, vendor, and trust relationships to feel when they come to your office?
The other day I went to the dry cleaners to drop off some of my shirts. As I walked in, the lady working the front desk growled, “You’re bringing me all those shirts?” I replied, “Isn’t that what gives you a job?” She responded with a blank stare and confessed that she was tired and just looking forward to a light day. The woman didn’t equate her work with the success of the business; rather, she justw anted to put in her hours, get paid, and go home. If I were the owner of this business, I would have been mortified to know my first-impression employee was discouraging customers from bringing in large bundles of business.
Porter’s Points – The Most Important Hire
- Define your company culture before interviewing for your most important hire. Your admin, more than any other employee, has to fit. Consider having one of your trusted relationships, such as your spouse or mentor, interview the candidates as well.
- Conduct real-time, surprise skill tests with all finalists: how do they handle phone calls? Upset customers? Can they write intelligent and purposeful letters?
- Don’t rely just on looks. She may have polished nails and shoes or he might have walked right out of Men’s Health, but being easy on the eyes does not guarantee that either one can handle your company with confidence. Appearance is part of the first impression, but your admin tackles behind-the-scenes work, too.
- Your admin must be an office-politics agnostic. No pot-stirrers at the front desk, please.