The Bad Assistant: When To Switch, When to Fire

When to Fire a Bad Assistant | CorporetteWhat should you do when you’re stuck with a bad assistant, secretary or subordinate — and your assistant doesn’t assist? When is just time to switch assistants, or even fire the person? Reader K wonders:

We are a small (12 people) conservative professional investment firm serving high net worth clients. I recently moved from front office to portfolio assistant. The young woman who replaced me thinks she is doing a great job even though she was told by management that she needs to work on skills. She says she has a photographic memory and doesn’t take notes on anything I try to explain. I prepared “how to'” notes for her, but have had to print them for her repeatedly. She makes “to do” lists but rarely does items on the list. When I try to explain something, she has gotten up and walked off or continues to stare at computer screen. Her history shows that she is constantly on the Internet. I was told to monitor these things, but feel uncomfortable. I am working an extra 15 hours a week trying to do my new job and picking up slack on hers. Needless to say, I am stressed. Management is aware of issues, but not that I am really stressed out over this. How should I handle this?

Wow — I’m sorry, K, that sounds like it really stinks. You say she’s been warned; you say management is already aware of these issues. That all leads me to the following advice:

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Delegating: Using Your Assistant Well

delegating to your assistant2016 Update: We still stand by these tips on delegating to your assistant — but you may also want to check out our latest discussion on how to delegate!

Reader E wonders what you can and should ask your assistant or secretary to do — and what is off limits. Great question!

I have been fortunate and I find myself a busy exec at a consulting firm at a young age. I am working 60-80 hours a week and just learning how to leverage my assistant. She is helping me with my expenses and time entry, but I suspect she and I could both get more out of the relationship. I’ve grown up in a world where I can do almost everything myself (like book travel) but I’m struggling to manage my work/life balance. I could use help with just about anything but as I dive into the world of asking for help, I don’t want to find myself at the other end of the spectrum where I’m asking too much or being inappropriate. Advice that outlines do and do not categories or mentions creative ideas might be most helpful.

Congrats to be a busy exec, and a special congrats on getting what sounds like a competent and helpful assistant — they can be hard to come by, so treat him or her like gold! (And apologies in advance for every time I say “her” meaning the assistant — in addition to being Reader E’s situation, it’s easier to type than “him or her” every time!)  (Pictured:  Screencap from Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.  We’re right on top of it, Rose!) Oh, and PSA: Don’t forget that tomorrow is Administrative Assistant’s Day. Check out our poll on what to get your assistant.)

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Weekly Round-up

Liking these posts? Follow us on Twitter or fan us on Facebook — this is the edited version of what we’re reading! (We also Tweet if we hear about a good sale.)

– We talked business card cases earlier this week — if you’re also in the market for a Rolodex or way to keep the cards you collect, Jeri’s Organizing & Decluttering News collects some interesting address “boxes.”  (For our $.02 — we throw most business cards away after we enter the information in our Palm pilot.  We keep the cards of close friends, cut them up (about 5 slits along both long edges), and wrap delicate necklaces around the card as a way to keep the necklace from getting tangled.)

Jezebel reports on new tests that allow you to predict your risk of “early ovarian aging.”

The WSJ continues to wonder whether jeans are appropriate at work, and gets up close and personal with an article on shapewear.

– Can you pay off a sleep debt by sleeping late on the weekends? The NYT investigates.

The NYT profiles a new Facebook application that will let you delete objectionable photos.

The Blushing Hostess advises how to be a gracious host to colleagues and improve your team’s working relationship at the same time.

work fashion blog press mentions