Psychic Powers and Assistants, the Real Deal

By: Markell Hardin

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There is one verb that separates agents who thrive from those who merely survive or despise their job, and that verb is the word DELEGATE.

What does delegate mean? Used as a verb, it translates as follows:

The verb DELEGATE has 2 senses:

1. transfer power to someone
2. give an assignment to (a person) to a post, or assign a task to (a person)

Notice what Delegate does NOT mean:

* Your assistant is psychic and will automatically do things the way you do them without proper instructions
* Pass on a project and let the assistant 'learn by error'

Let's discuss the two items above in more detail:

*Your assistant is not psychic. If you give them instructions 'fix this web site'; their definition of fix is going to be very different from yours. Elaborate with details. Type it out - there is no greater room for error than with verbal communication. My new motto is 'Brain is for processing not for storage' (thanks Joe Stumpf AGAIN). Seriously, the brain is way too sophisticated to be holding all of this information in; and the computer has helped us create various systems as ways of storing information. Put that storage capacity to good use and use your (and your assistant's) brain for something more useful!

*Pass on a project and let the assistant 'learn by error'. While this is unavoidable all the time and is a common way to learn, it is highly inefficient. You should have typed out a task list/instruction sheet on how you want the task done, and then proof it for errors. It's so common for any time of manager to say 'Do this task', then once it's done, pick it to shreds because it was not what they had envisioned. Your assistants are human, and they like to succeed and be useful. Setting them up for failure from the beginning will not alleviate your need for an assistant, and it certainly will not increase their desire to help you.

Here are some other pointers when delegating:

* Don't give it, then take it back. You find someone who speaks 'real estate' and hand them a project. You check in constantly, only to find that you are too nervous, so you interrupt the project at hand, hoping to interject your intelligence and experience into it. STOP. Let them finish the project, and save your advice and opinion for the final approval. Almost every project, from a newsletter to a postcard, will have a final approval stage for you. Surely you can let it go until then, can't you? Obviously this advice does not apply to transactions; only admin tasks that involve marketing and client touchpoints.

* Make them repeat it back. It sounds silly, but if you are delegating transaction items, and there needs to be a certain level of understanding regarding important contract dates and deadlines, ask them 'what if' scenarios. If they can't answer your questions, you need to provide better instructions.

* Ensure there is a high level of communication. Your assistant should be in the office, or have access to email on the go if they are virtual, along with texting and/or instant messaging. You can't wait for hours to find out if they remembered to change the number of bedrooms on a listing that you made a mistake on the MLS yesterday. That could cost you a very precious listing, so response time and performance expectations need to be outlined and confirmed ahead of time.

* Use the tools they ask you to use. If they're experienced, they have a system in place already. Be flexible and help them stay organized with the systems they have invented. You will not be disappointed once the groove starts!

Hiring an assistant can be one of the most amazing things to help your business....but the first few weeks can be trying. Just hang in there and keep the end results in mind, organization and systems will come!


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