The trajectory for high-performing executives is towards over-work.
Busyness and overwork can feel like productivity—for awhile. But it’s the path to what The Mayo Clinic calls “job burnout,” robbing you and your team of something much better.
Busy executives are busy because they are highly skilled and naturally take on everything. That’s how you get to a high level. Eventually, though, that leads to unhappy employees and clients, though that was never your intention.
Top-notch support staff can reduce that burden, reducing stress and changing the culture of the office.
They can make busy executives like yourself truly productive, giving you a bigger return on your work with less energy and time required. And they can jump-start the productivity of your whole team by removing administrative bottlenecks.
We’ll show you why support staff are the must-have of the 21st Century, and how to go about choosing the staff that’s right for you.
Why Support Staff Are No Longer Optional
There’s a growing movement in the C-Suite, and that’s bringing on a Chief of Staff (CoS).
A CoS is a position that can be tailored to best represent the needs of the executive. In general, however, a CoS is a position that’s all about streamlining information, communication, decision processes, and, ultimately, time.
Too many executives aren’t thinking about a CoS because they aren’t even thinking about support staff. Even if a CoS isn’t the right path for you, the best support staff help you achieve high productivity and gains in so many measurable areas.
Consider how much money and opportunity you’re losing because of no support staff. If you’re busy, it’s likely that there’s no “white space” on your calendar to give you time to be forward-thinking. Reacting is the default mode.
Let’s not forget that you’re making your life more difficult when you try to do everything yourself. You may be passing that burden on to your team, and compounding the problem.
The longer you wait to bring on support staff, the more you’re trending towards trouble. Executive burnout is real, and has been a significant problem that trickles down to everyone. A recent survey found that 77% of respondents had experienced burnout at their job. Whether it’s executives, managers, or other team members, that’s much too high.
Not convinced? Wary of entrusting your important admin work to someone else? Let’s take a look at some signs you could benefit from support staff, signs you might not have noticed yet.
3 Signs You Need Support Staff
There are three easy signs that a busy executive needs support staff yesterday:
- Struggling or frustrated employees, which leads to dissatisfied customers.
- Missed deadlines, poor communication, and work that doesn’t meet your standards.
- Low morale and burnout, including you.
The tricky part of it?
These don’t happen overnight. They creep up and accumulate until they’re at an emergency level that you finally notice.
It’s when you get behind on your email many days in a row, or miss report deadlines. Forgetting to pass on important information to your team. Being tied to your desk from endless phone calls. Personal tasks that eat up your day. Hours of spending time on your admin to-do list go by before you even get to the growth-oriented work you’re best at.
Seeing these issues develop before they get to a crisis point isn’t easy. It’s hard to understand the war if you’re in the daily battle, but don’t wait for negative results to spur you into action.
How To Find The Best Support Staff
Each executive has unique needs, so what your support staff look like will differ from someone else.
Before you dive in, ask yourself these basic questions:
- What part of your workload do you need help with? This helps you determine if you need a CoS, an executive assistant, or some other kind of support staff. Is it admin? High-level project and team management? An assistant you can toss all the details to and let them sort it out? Find the bottlenecks and they’ll lead you back to where you need help.
- What work do you dislike doing? There’s no set type of work that you have to turn over to support staff. If you’re great at a particular task and think it’s important that you hang onto it, maybe that’s true. But what work do you dread doing? What sets back your whole day? Find support staff who are good at it.
- What do you consider to be must-have foundational abilities? Depending on what kind of support you want or need, the foundational ability your staff must have will be different. It might be strictly project management. It might be organizational skills that can turn chaos into smooth machinery. It might be communication. It might be a personality that can read people. It might be experience with software XYZ.
- Will you be able to delegate work? Executives get to where they’re at because of a strong personality that takes responsibility to make sure things get done. That can make it tough to delegate work. Can you give up the reins and trust your support staff so they can do their job? A CoS is particularly useful for an executive who struggles with delegation.
- What kind of support staff do you want? Decide if you want to hire an executive assistant employee, or use temp staff, a dedicated remote executive assistant, or rely on a staffing agency pool. Consider how much time you want to reclaim, your budget, and how much time you’ll need them. Realize that hiring an employee takes a significant investment in money and time (recruiting, vetting, interviewing).
Support staff make systems work better, and keep efficiency and productivity front and center. The top qualities to look for in support staff are a mix of soft and hard skills:
- Positive attitude
- Detail oriented
- Good at communication
- Highly organized and responsible
- Flexible and multi-faceted, i.e. skilled in many types of work
- Quick learner
- Able to spot problems and offer solutions
- Personality fit for executive and company culture
- Able to read people and anticipate what they need
- Experienced in various software, systems, and applications
- Strong ethics and trustworthy with confidential information
That’s a long list that’s not always easy to hire for.
One of the easiest ways to bring on top-notch support staff nearly right away is to use a subscription service, like Boldly. We’ve taken care of screening and hiring the best of the best so you don’t need to spend the time and money to find great support staff yourself, but can be matched up with your ideal candidate in days.
Regardless of the route you take, support staff are rarely optional in today’s busy workplace. Bringing on support staff can make an immediate positive difference in reversing the trend towards a workload crisis.
Remember, productivity means producing at a high level with the minimal amount of time needed to do it. Whatever your budget or need, there’s a support staff option available to help change your trajectory towards true productivity.