You hired a superstar Assistant and things were going great! Then, things were NOT so great and you're wondering "What happened?"
Well let's look at some of the signs that your Assistant is on the way to "checking out".
- They begin to lack humility
- They no longer appreciate coaching or want to learn new skills or be coached
- They begin to exhibit an attitude of "entitlement"
- They begin to feel that tasks are "beneath them"
- They no longer learn from their mistakes
- They lack objectivity and can no longer see how their words and actions will be perceived by others
- They no longer put in full work days and are loathe to put in extra time to accomplish their tasks
What are some of the reasons that these things can happen? In my experience over the years, I have found that most often it is a result of personal issues crossing over into the workplace. While that is not to say that a bad work environment may also contribute, if it's narrowed down to one employee, it's most likely the former. Maybe it's financial issues. Or an injury. Maybe a loved one is ill or there is a change of situation or circumstances (death, divorce, new baby, etc.)
Now, we are all human and life happens. We may all have periods where one or all of these could affect us and our ability to function at peak productivity. So how do you know if it's a temporary situation and your superstar Assistant needs help? Or if it's not recoverable and you need to find a new Assistant?
- Give the Assistant a chance to correct. Once you have identified an issue, bring it to your Assistant's attention and give them a chance to correct it. Some of the first warning signs is not finishing work on time and not coming into the office on time and leaving early.
- Be consistent. If the Executive allows the behavior to continue, the Assistant will get the impression that that behavior is acceptable. For example, if assignments are not being completed on time, it will only compound from there.
- Mistakes. We all make mistakes, however, if the Assistant keeps making the same mistakes over and over, they are no longer open to being coached and learning to improve.
If these, or any other issues you deem deal breakers (an the Assistant is aware of those expectations of course) it is time to act - and quickly! So what to do now?
- Have a meeting with your Assistant as soon as the issues arise so that you can course correct as you go and not get to the point where more serious measures are required.
- If #1 did not improve the situation. It is now time to have a serious meeting. I recommend bringing in a witness (HR rep, another female if the employee requiring correction is female). Issues should be clearly and calmly laid out, the expectations for correction, and a timeline for the corrections to take place. You must also CLEARLY lay out the consequences that will take place if the conditions are not met. Have the employee sign off on the conditions as well as you and your witness. Have check in meetings prior to the deadline to ensure that the Assistant is getting feedback on their progress.
- If you must terminate - do so with conviction. You have given every chance at this point to encourage and work with the Assistant to correct these issues. Again, have a witness, provide your documentation and be calm, fair and firm.
It's unfortunate. Sometimes you find the superstar Assistant and things can still go wrong. Some people can not separate their personal lives from their professional and it affects their ability to do their job. But hopefully, these tips will help you and your Assistant to correct any issues that arise before it's too late.
Remember though. Once you realize that it is time for a new Assistant - act decisively - you cannot afford to not be at peak productivity and efficiency as that will trickle down to the whole company.
I'm here for you - if you have any questions or comments please send me a note!