I was having dinner with some wonderful friends last night. They started off as business colleagues and now I enjoy the fact that they have become friends. We got to talking about how I went about finding our amazing “Captain of Logistics” – the amazing Karen Finucane. Yes – everyone needs a Karen. Just don’t try to steal my Karen – it won’t end well for you!
Firstly, I designed the role first in terms of tasks I needed to get done – not just work related but also life related. My diary is booked pretty solid and yet I really hate planning, so I needed someone who could not only manage my diary for work appointments as well as all of my work travel logistics, but who could also manage my entire schedule including teaching fitness classes, book in my massages, facials, dental appointments, and even book my dog in for grooming – he’s a super cute, pampered little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who just makes your heart melt – especially after grooming.
My friends were oooing and aaahing about how lucky I was to have my personal admin taken care of too. My reply – “Nope not lucky – just smart!” Luckily I know a thing or two about performance, enough to realise that personal admin uses up a lot of my energy credits. My very valuable energy credits that I would rather use with our amazing clients and running our successful business, teaching fitness classes, oh and yes best add my Masters in that mix as well. My family (especially my wonderful partner) and friends also give me energy, so spending time with them is a great source of energy renewal as well. So organising my personal admin was always going to be part of the role and thanks to work/life integration (let’s just call it life), this is becoming an increasing need for so many people.
Our discussion then turned to the way that many businesses and companies are doing the opposite and cutting down on support staff including for senior roles. From a profitability point of view – this is not such a smart idea – here’s why…..
Think of a simple task that many people who travel or entertain for work need to do – lodge expenses. Now there are many more automated ways to do these, but there is still an element of manual work which needs to be done and it drains energy. Someone on a salary of say $250k has a much higher hourly rate than a support person. And they will never be as efficient at doing expenses as they are at more strategic or client-focused tasks they need to do. So why should they spend one hour a week on just one task when a support person can be hired to do the expenses of say 10-20 people for a fraction of the cost? And then you can add more tasks in there like managing diaries for meetings etc. I’m not saying everyone deserves a full time PA for themselves, but group support is essential to making sure people have the time and energy to do what they can do better than anyone else – and hint…..it’s not their expenses. I would go so far as to say that you want these support people to take on personal tasks for your team as well.
In fact, if I worked in a corporate again now, I would happily pay for a support person to manage my work and life admin out of my own salary. My increased energy and productivity would get phenomenal results and lead to greater rewards so it would be worth the investment.
So the moral to the story is that it’s worth taking stock of what drains your energy credits both in and outside of work, and get your team to do the same. Once you are aware of this, you can work out what support is needed for you and for your team as a whole and look to invest in that support to free everyone up to get better results.
And final tip – invest in support before you are ready. If there is one thing I would have done differently with hiring Karen, it’s that I would have done it a year earlier. Would this have made me feel quite stretched financially? Definitely. Would the decision have paid for itself sooner? Absolutely! So get the support to free up your energy credits….sooner rather than later.