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The Right Person For the Job I, Finding Your Perfect Assistant or Partner

By SueCanyon | September 5, 2007

Your company is growing. You have entirely too much work, and you need someone to take the excess workload. Now, if you could only find someone exactly like yourself to fill the position, then everything would be ducky… or not…?

There is a natural tendency to think this way because it seems to make perfect sense. After all, you do your job well, so someone just like you ought to perform the job just as well, right? Maybe not.

You need assistance. This implies that some of your work is not getting done. Each of us has tasks we like to perform and tasks we dislike. You may notice that those you’re setting aside are the ones that aren’t fun for you. These will almost certainly be the first tasks you’ll assign to another person.

So, here’s the flaw. If you hire someone matching your skills and desires, he will not want to perform those duties any more than you do. If neither of you want them, then either they won’t get done or one of you will be unhappy. The company will suffer when the work is not completed. The employee will dislike his job, argue with you, and will leave.

To avoid this pitfall, apply the ‘opposites attract’ principle. Always hire into your weaknesses. Look for someone who is not like you at all. Evaluate your strengths and list your weaknesses. This may be difficult to do because we humans tend to disregard our weaknesses. This is more an oversight than a fault. Concentrating on strengths is how we get ahead, but we must also understand our limitations. In this way, we can avoid creating the vacuum behind us that could suck us into failure.

To kick-start a self-examination of your weaknesses, seat yourself in a comfortable chair this evening, paper and pencil in hand. At the top of the page write WEAKNESSES. Now, under this heading write the combination of skills required to perform each of the jobs you dislike. Be honest with yourself. Your list may take several days to complete because as you work you’ll be reminded of tasks that you would rather not finish.

Once you feel your list is complete, you can begin to interview for an employee. Look for someone whose strengths match the characteristics on your list. Your relationship with your new employee will be long and prosperous for having done so.

For instance, if you don’t care for the tedium associated with creating a numerical report, but would rather analyze the data and provide a conclusion, then look for a person who is less analytical than yourself and more detail oriented. If you run a small store and favor stocking the shelves over running the cash register, look for a people-person to serve as your assistant manager. If you are so optimistic that you sometimes get yourself into trouble, hire a pessimist and bounce your ideas off her before you make a decision.

Teach your pessimistic employee to hire an optimist when it comes her turn to receive help and you will complete the cycle that will ensure no vacuum in your wake as you move forward. Teach your supervisors that as their employees grow into the supervisor jobs, the former supervisor can grow into better jobs as well.

In our daily lives we tend to surround ourselves with people who have similar viewpoints, interests, and likes. When you break this habit and hire an employee whose style is different from yours, he may seem like a Martian to you, and you to him. You must spend time together coordinating your semantics, understanding your differences, and setting your boundaries.

Write your instructions carefully and train him well. Let your new assistant do some of the work their way, perhaps a different way than you would have done it. You might find that they can see a suitable short cut, or more accurate way of doing the task. You will receive quite an education from this entire process.

Until next time…

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Topics: General, Other Mistakes, Partners | No Comments »

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