Question: What's your No. 1 tip for getting the most out of a virtual assistant?
Create Systems and Document All Tasks for Them to Follow
"Virtual assistants work best when there is a repeatable, documented system that they can follow. Don't even think about hiring one until you have a few of these systems created and instructions specifically laid out. This way, the virtual assistant can get started immediately, need very little one-on-one training with you, and can do that one task with perfection."
Establish a Sense of Ownership
"Your virtual assistant should be a lot more than just your assistant. They are someone you rely on to help you perform your best and make your business run. They need to know how important that role is. By making them feel empowered in that position, and allowing them to grow and share in any business success, they'll not only get more done, but they'll be more loyal as well."
Encourage and Reward Proactive Behavior
"If you'd like your VA to add more value to your business than just doing the tasks you ask them to, encourage (and/or reward) them to be proactive and create even more work for themselves. At the Rescue Desk, we ask our VAs to be constantly on the lookout for improvements they could make to a client's business and suggest these to clients."
Make Them Part of The Team and Coach Them
"It's easy to think that because someone is working virtually that they're separated from your business, but if you're inclusive in all your communications and you are willing to invest in your relationship with your virtual assistant, you'll see massive results. I also think that understanding how someone's work style jives with your own is key."
Brainstorm With Your VA
"Making your VA feel like part of your team is key to getting the most out of their time. I brainstorm with my VA all the time and constantly ask her for suggestions. She keeps bringing me interesting suggestions for the goals I want to achieve because she feels that she is part of my team. "
Be Clear About Priorities
"VAs are often deluged with a bunch of requests in rapid succession that stack on top of previous requests. Delegators often aren't keeping track of what they've delegated and when those deliverables are due. As priorities shift, proactively communicate with your VA about those changes and build re-prioritization practices. There are only so many things that can be due by the end of the week."
Pair Them With In-Office Employees
"Assign your VA tasks that they must collaborate on with team members who work physically in your office. This will not only make them feel like part of the team but will also ensure that your team's values and in-office culture is communicated well to the VA. This kind of team work will open up the lines of communication between the assistant and your team, heightening overall VA effectiveness."
Suss Out the Details Upfront
"Communicate effectively, let your assistant know your expectations, and assign deadlines and establish the ground rules. If you're clear with your preferences and invest time in the beginning, it will pay off and allow you to concentrate on the core activities of your business."
Set Priorities and Expectations
"The goal of any virtual assistant is to help you become more productive and take some of the administrative tasks off your plate. In order to do so, first decide what it is that you want to outsource to your assistant. Provide specific goals and tasks to the assistant and outline a checklist for them to follow with specific instructions. Try to make it clear to them what is most important to you."
Hire Them as if They Were in Your Office
"Treat the virtual assistant hiring process as if it were for an in-office hire -- being selective will pay off. Language skills and technical capabilities are only a minimum; make sure you conduct Skype interviews to assess their communication skills and follow up on references as well. Setting up your organization and priorities should be easy later if you've put effort into your choice."
Start With the Easier Tasks
"It doesn't matter how tempted you are to squeeze the juice out every minute of a VA's time and get the most "bang for your buck" -- keep in mind that being remote can lead to a lot of back and forth communication regarding clarification. So start with the easier, self-explanatory tasks, let the VA warm up to your business and working policy, and then gradually build up the task complexity level."