When you hire a virtual assistant, especially your first, do you have an instruction manual to give them? Probably not. Why is a franchise successful and consistent from Chicago to Moscow? Everything is documented and done in the same exact way.
If you want a VA who will follow your steps, you need to get the information out of your head and documented. But I do warn you to be flexible because one thing that virtual assistants bring with them is a variety of experience. They may make suggestions to streamline or change the way you are doing something. Be open to learning from their experience.
When you start working from home and you’ve grown your business so that you need to hire new team members, a VA is a must. Like other jobs, there will be a learning curve as you get to know how each other works. One way to eliminate some of those initial questions is to document your process of how you currently want a task completed.
Streamline the documenting process
This may or may not be the last time you hire virtual help and so you will save time yourself in the long run. No more repetitive training sessions. How?
- Go through each of the systems or tasks you want your VA to perform and then add these steps to your project management system like Trello or Asana.
- An easier and faster way is to record a video tutorial using Screenflow, Zoom, or Loom for each system.
Regardless of which way you use to document your system, your VA will have documentation to refer back to. This saves you time from repeatedly answering the same questions and you know it’s done the way you want (as long as your VA can follow directions.) Don’t get overwhelmed at the thought of doing all the documentation training up front.
Remember to not dump your whole to-do list on your new VA the first day or week. Assign a task and provide an expected time frame. For example: upload images and hashtags into Tailwind and schedule for the next week. This should take one hour.
Before you assign the task, document your system in writing or in video form, and then hand it over to your assistant. By assigning a task with a time frame expectation, you can create an understanding of time charged/$ spent on a particular task. This does two things:
- You know how much time it takes to complete an assigned task and how much you’re paying (for now and future reference)
- If expectations aren’t met, it can be for various reasons: either you overestimated how much work can be accomplished in an allotted time (this is the case most of the time) or the VA isn’t as familiar with the particular task and needs more time to learn and become familiar (perhaps needs the documentation you provided)
Be realistic with the time demands.
Virtual assistants are not superhuman. You probably outsourced the task because it was too time-consuming in the first place. Setting up processes and expectations up front pave the way for a happy working relationship. This eliminates any misunderstandings and helps you, as the client, manage your time and money more efficiently.
Advice for Working with your VA
- Treat your VA with respect and ask advice. They are NOT your employee.
- Look for a responsive VA, someone who returns emails promptly, gives status calls, and shares advice
- Invest in them and their strengths and they will go the extra mile for you
- VAs often have a variety of skills but cannot do everything. Use what they are good at and look to hire another VA for the other tasks.
- Pay a good, fair rate. Remember the phrase you get what you pay for? Often applies in this case too.
- Praise their work, give feedback and be appreciative.
- Realize mistakes will be made and be forgiving.
- Read 8 More Tips for Success When Working With a Virtual Assistant
I think a lot of problems can be avoided if expectations are communicated upfront.
Are you in the beginning stages of thinking about hiring a VA but not quite sure how to use one? You might find How to Hire Your First Virtual Assistant, What Can I Outsource to a VA, or How to Boost Your Biz by Hiring a VA helpful reading and a good place to start.
To set up a time with me to talk and learn if we would be a great fit for working together, you can contact me HERE.