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PRODUCTIVITY

4 Reasons Hiring an Assistant Is a Bad Idea

Think you could get more done with an assistant at your side? Here's why you're wrong.
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If you've ever fantasized about hiring an assistant with the idea you'd get heaps more work done with someone else handling all your bothersome administrative responsibilities, you may have the wrong idea.

That's according to Krish Ramakrishnan, CEO and co-founder of Mountain View, California-based Blue Jeans Network. Ramakrishnan practices a "no admin" rule that appears to be working. After growing and selling two previous startups to Cisco, his current cloud-based video collaboration service has more than 200 employees worldwide and in just over two years has captured about 30 percent of the video conferencing market. He says since last year Blue Jeans has experienced 500 percent growth and a 50 percent uptake in monthly usage, all while he scheduled his own meetings, booked his own travel, and cleaned up his own inbox. Here's why he says he goes to the trouble.

When you control your own calendar you spend less time in meetings.

The majority of internal meetings are painful and expensive time-sucks, especially if you consider the collective wages and time your company is losing for however many people to sit around and talk.

Whereas someone may convince an admin he or she deserves time on your calendar, if they have to come to you for the request you may be able to take care of the matter with a quick conversation, instead.  Ultimately, you don't want your day driven by the calendar, but by priorities that are aligned with your company's goals and the immediate needs of the day.

"Time is your most valuable commodity," he says.

On the other hand, if you're immersed in work and a high-priority meeting does present itself you can immediately switch gears and give it your attention without having to involve an intermediary.

Only you know the priority level of a meeting.

Imagine you meet someone at an industry event who could be pivotal in your company's future growth. If you leave scheduling a meeting with him or her up to someone else you could lose out on the opportunity.

"[An] assistant may not understand the strategic nature of the business and may book for the first available slot, which for a busy executive will be many weeks out. The momentum of striking a deal succumbs to not having a timely follow-up," he says. "This type of scenario plays out over and over again in business."

Technology has taken much of the pain out of administrative chores.

Booking a business trip used to be a much bigger deal than it is today and involved actually picking up the phone and interacting with travel agents. Today, of course, you can schedule a trip in just a few minutes sitting at your computer or tapping on your mobile device.

"Once upon a time it was cumbersome to do everything self-service, book an airline ticket, schedule a meeting or go somewhere. Today everything is at your fingertips," he says.

A gatekeeper will keep people away.

Someone sitting outside your office is a deterrent to an open-door policy. And you don't want that, at least if keeping your fingers on the pulse of your company is important to you.

"Unfiltered [and] unscheduled information... leads to better decision making rather than just [going to] scheduled meetings every half hour or every hour," Ramakrishnan says.

Want more advice on how to get more done? Check out "8 Tools to Amp Your Productivity."

IMAGE: Corbis
Last updated: Mar 25, 2014

CHRISTINA DESMARAIS

Christina DesMarais is an Inc.com contributor who writes about the tech start-up community, covering innovative ideas, news, and trends. On Google+, add her to one of your circles. Have a tip? Email her at christinadesmarais (at) live (dot) com.




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