How to set Your Virtual Assistant Up for Success

With the advent of the internet, we suddenly were able to connect with people all over the world. This has given way to fabulous opportunities for business and employment, and now it’s effortless to hire a virtual assistant, even from across the globe.

These cost-effective digital contractors can easily take a ton of work off of your plate, or add to it if you’re not careful. That’s why in this article, we’ll be talking about ways that you can set your new virtual assistant up for success.

While we’ll mostly be focusing on ways to train your assistant, you’ll also learn how to become a better delegator yourself, which is particularly useful if you’re accustomed to working alone. 

Make your operating procedures clear

The first mistake that many business owners make is not establishing proper operating procedures. This is especially important if you’ll be managing multiple freelancers, virtual assistants, and remote workers that need to work together on projects. 

If you don’t do this, you’ll spend all of your time answering an endless array of questions from your remote helpers. Instead, take the time to create an FAQ style document which they can reference. This doesn’t need to be a long document, but it should contain important information that your VA will need in order to act on your behalf. 

Information to include in your operating procedures document

  • Logins and passwords
  • Personal information required for purchases and travel
  • Credit cards you need your VA to use
  • Preferred contact info for you
  • Reward miles accounts for travel/hotel
  • Dietary/accommodation requirements
  • Style guides or brand guidelines 
  • Canned responses for customer service or business correspondence 

However, your operating procedures document can also give guidance on what your assistant should do in certain situations. 

For example, let’s say that your assistant will be making travel reservations for you and they find that your preferred accommodations are not available, you could make a note of your preferred alternatives, avoiding slowdowns and lengthy correspondence with your assistant. 

Of course, you can also add to the document at any time, including new procedures and further reducing the number of emails that you get from your assistant asking for help. 

Start with smaller tasks first

In an attempt to de-clutter your life, it can be tempting to just dump all of your problems into your new assistant’s lap. However, this is often a mistake which can add many headaches to your day.

A new assistant, even an experienced one, needs time to learn exactly how you want things done. If you dump too much work on them at once it will likely only overwhelm them, and if there’s some kind of miscommunication, then that could end in a lot of backtracking to fix things.

This is not only frustrating for the both of you, but it can also add a lot of extra man hours to your budget when these problems need to be fixed. Instead, start smaller, delegating more tasks over time as you and your assistant get a better feel for each other, gently correcting their path along the way. 

It’s also important to remember that every new relationship takes time, and you’ll need to be patient while they learn. Mistakes happen, and you should be especially forgiving during this transitional period.

Be as specific as possible on tasks

Many people assume, for some reason, that their virtual assistant can read their minds and knows exactly how to perform every task. They are then perplexed when the work is returned and it’s nothing like what they thought it would be.

You can avoid this, and make your new assistant love you, by giving them clear instructions. If you need something done in a specific way, make sure to tell them. If you need specific information, say so. If you need the work completed by a certain time or date, say so. 

While some people are afraid to be seen as overly picky when working with others, an assistant would much rather receive a detailed request that tells them exactly what is expected of them, rather than a vague one where they must worry whether they are doing the job correctly.

Establish preferred software

If you don’t instruct your virtual assistant to use specific software, then things can become difficult down the road, especially if your business continues to expand. That’s because many business owners actually find that they can have their lead virtual assistant delegate and manage other freelancers or assistants!

By using cloud tools, like Google Docs, you can make this job much easier, and have a universal way to check up on all of the work that you’re delegating. 

Cloud tools offer you the ability to see and manage work from nearly any device, so there are no issues for anyone that you hire. In fact, many assistants and freelancers are already using these tools, so there’s no learning curve for them either. 

Don’t expect your virtual assistant to do everything

While a virtual assistant often has a diverse skill set, it’s important to understand that they can’t do everything. They aren’t graphic designers, or writers, or web developers. 

However, your virtual assistant would likely be happy to help delegate tasks to other freelancers for you, and even help you to find people to hire for your project! You shouldn’t underestimate how much of your time this can free up either.

Vetting freelancers is very time consuming, and a virtual assistant that’s familiar with your business could do an excellent job of researching talent for you, and even arranging for work to be done, leaving you free to focus on more important things. 

In closing, a virtual assistant can be an insanely valuable addition to your business, which can allow you to reclaim many hours in your day. Unfortunately, those that don’t take the time that’s required to properly train their assistants, or themselves, will quickly find that there is little time savings to be had.

However, by establishing standard operating procedures, making your expectations clear, and taking it a day at a time, you’ll be able to create a valuable relationship with your virtual assistant.