Think Twice Before Laying Off Your Force Multiplier

It’s that time of year, as the third quarter winds down, where business owners and executives are taking a good hard look at their P&Ls and ruthlessly cutting expenses and evaluating their budget for the year ahead. As they should. It’s been an incredibly interesting year with the unprecedented global health crisis, shifting markets, skyrocketing unemployment, and a new way of living that none of us could have predicted.

As the Founder and CEO of several organizations, I understand first-hand the challenges business owners are facing and the tough decisions that have to be made for their organizations to not only survive, but thrive this year (and every year, quite frankly!). It’s not easy, and often times the decisions are misunderstood. That’s all part of being a leader. No matter how much information you give or how many people’s opinions you solicit before making the final call – it’s still on you.

An interesting (and slightly disturbing) trend I’ve seen in recent months is the reduction of Executive Assistant/Force Multiplier team members.

I get it. Tough decisions have to be made. Keeping a business operating right now requires looking closely at each expense and eliminating anything that is not giving us a return on our investment (or any expense that could be preventing us from using those funds towards something that could give us an even bigger return).

Yes, leaders are weighing the individual impact of every decision we make, while also having to take into consideration the greater good of the organization. An organization that could be employing hundreds or thousand of people and positively contributing to the community at large.

With the move to virtual offices, increased automation, and often doing more with less all around, if an Executive Assistant or Chief of Staff isn’t providing massive value (above and beyond the day to day reactionary responsibilities), then Executives may be questioning (and rightly so) whether or not they need an assistant by their side (in-person or virtually).

It’s not easy to write that (or to read, I’m sure). I absolutely understand and value having someone work with me to take care of the daily minutia. And that individual also needs to be contributing exceptional value for it make good financial sense.

That being said, I would caution business owners to think twice if you have talent on your team. The short-sighted, short-term solution of the elimination of Force Multiplier staff members during the pandemic often creates short and long term problems. Yes, you may save money in the short term, but I guarantee that you will quickly see the loss of productivity, have less time to focus on the most important things, and start to see communication gaps across the organization. And that’s just the beginning. A leader’s most valuable resource is our time. And while we can’t yet create more time or buy more time in our day, a great Force Multiplier can get us pretty damn close. Not to mention, the tough decisions that we are all facing right now can be made easier if you have a Force Multiplier by your side.

“The business employs assistants to ensure that the executive is as efficient and effective as they can possibly be, said Lucy Brazier, CEO of Marcham Publishing and Publisher of Executive Secretary Magazine. “A decent assistant will give them [Executives] up to 80% of their time back. As an example, most execs will spend 58% of their time or more doing email. That is 58% of their salary being spent by the business on the exec doing email. An assistant can get that time down to 12%. So do the math. Every hour that an assistant saves their exec multiplied by their exec’s salary. That’s what you [Force Multipliers] add to the bottom line. And that’s before they [Executives] use that time saved to go and close business deals or create a new revenue stream – that is also part of your [Force Multiplier’s] contribution to the bottom line.”

My take on all of this? As long as you have a driven, productive, forward-thinking, problem-solving, growth-minded, value-adding Force Multiplier, that should be the last expense you look at eliminating. No one succeeds alone. The very best leaders are surrounded by subject matter experts, exceptional support staff, and strategic thinkers.

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group agrees. “Some people, especially entrepreneurs, think they have to do everything themselves. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Without learning the art of delegation, I would never have made it in business. By sharing my responsibilities and trusting in others who I believe are better than me, we can get so much more done. We have dozens of companies and thousands of employees, and I always have a new idea I am working on. With the logistics and details organised by others, I am free to think about the bigger picture. Without a world-class assistant, this wouldn’t be possible.”

As Sir Branson said, you can get so much more done with a strategic partner. It is especially critical now to make sure that an Executive’s time is well-managed and that they are focused on the activities that will generate additional revenue and safe-guard their organization, while simultaneously propelling it forward. That is what Force Multipliers do.

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