Getting started with your virtual assistant

After the Hire: How to Get Started with Your Virtual Assistant

Is working with a virtual assistant important to your business growth? Are you procrastinating because you don’t know what to do once you’ve hired one?
It's always great when you find a new virtual assistant that can help you with your business. Whether you want a writer, someone to work on your website or a graphic designer, it's nice to have a freelancer to help you out with your business' workload. If you don't know how to get started now that you found a virtual assistant, then we have some helpful tips.

Establish a Communication Channel

Most likely, you won't be working side-by-side with your virtual assistant. This means establishing effective communications channels will be key to success. These channels will allow you to quickly contact each other with information and important questions. Having more than one channel will make sure there’s never a breakdown in communication.
The channels will cover these three necessary types of communication.
  1. Sending longer pieces of information.
  2. Getting access to your assistant's assignments and projects.
  3. Sending quick and urgent messages to each other.
Effective Communication ChannelsFor example, you could use email for the first point, a cloud-based service for the second point and text messages for the third point. You can pick any type of channel for each of these. Just make sure that you have more than one way to communicate with your virtual assistant.
Talk with your assistant and choose channels that will work for both of you. This way, you can effectively communicate with each other and avoid any unnecessary mishaps.

Set Your Expectations Immediately

It’s a common mistake for business owners to assume that their new hire will “get it” without having to be told. Your freelancer has probably worked with several different clients all with different expectations. An onboarding meeting is a great way to get started with your virtual assistant. In this meeting, share with them what you expect from this work relationship.
Some expectations you will want to outline will be:
  • Deadlines - how soon do you want projects done.
  • Communication - if you send an email, how soon do you want a reply? How do you prefer to be communicated with (email for longer, non-time sensitive info and text for quick, urgent matters?) Are weekly or daily updates important?
  • Quality - Do you want to review draft versions or only final products? You may be ok with a few typos as long as the graphics are on point. Is accuracy more important than speed?
It’s important to consider what is really important to you. This may be areas you aren’t great at yourself (like the details). Or it might be something that you tend to be a perfectionist in and want to make sure the results reflect that.
If you don't set up these expectations from the start, then it could lead to a stressful experience for both you and your assistant. Your assistant won't understand what you want. This could could cause him or her to work on the wrong projects or focus on the wrong details. So make sure that you lay it all out at the beginning to make the process easier for you both.

Pro Tip

Setting expectations is not a one and done conversation. You may need to develop these over time and remind your VA on occasion or have them document these for you.

Delegate Effectively

Another mistake we often see when business owners start to outsource is that they expect one person to be able to do everything they need. For example, you might be tempted to hire a virtual assistant for some social media posting. A little while later, you realize you need some website work done and someone to manage your invoicing. It’s tempting to ask your current virtual assistant to handle these tasks. But they may not have the skillset necessary to do so effectively.
Effectively delegating means splitting up the work in a way that will save the most time and money. Assigning work that you don’t want to do to a virtual assistant that isn’t qualified to do it isn’t a good use of their time or your money. Instead, it may mean finding an additional team member that is better suited to the task.

Writing a Clear Brief with Deadlines

A key point to getting started with your virtual assistant is to offer a clear idea of what you need done and when you need it done by. This outline is called a brief. A brief allows you to state what you want your assistant to accomplish and how he or she should tackle the task. The brief should include the following points to make it straightforward for your assistant.
  • List the name of the task.

  • Mention the details of the task along with the necessary steps.

  • Provide links or attach any relevant files.
  • Describe any research or prep work that must be done ahead of time.
  • State where you want the work submitted and the type of file it should be in.
  • Clearly inform your assistant of the deadline and priority of the task.

Pro Tip

Including the objective or goal for the task in your brief can help your virtual assistant better understand what the task is for. This helps them give you a better end result.

Take the points above, apply them to your brief and make adjustments according to your business. You may need to add more information or points depending on the assignment or project. Either way, it's important for you to include these details along with any other essential pieces of information.

Managing Assigned Tasks

There’s a key phrase that will make your life so much easier when it comes to outsourcing.
Delegate, don't abdicate
As you work with your assistant, you will need to manage his or her assigned tasks. This means staying on top of tasks given to your assistant and keeping an eye on the process. It doesn't hurt for you to see what your assistant did to help you see how to effectively manage the situation.
Remember there’s a fine line between micromanaging and managing. You want to keep an eye on things but give your assistant room to do things his or her way. Micromanaging is a sign that you lack trust and does not establish a good working relationship.
Ask your assistant to report his or her work at the end of each day to help you properly manage the projects. Schedule weekly meetings to address any concerns or questions that come up.
If this process doesn't work for you, then you can create a checklist for your assistant. Have your assistant check off the different items on the list as he or she completes them. This way, you can easily see the progress of the different assignments and projects which will help you to better manage them.

Offering Feedback

As you get started with your virtual assistant, you can offer some feedback to completed assignments and projects. This allows you to help your assistant to improve based on how you like things to be done.
Great feedback will point out both good things that your assistant does and anything that you want him or her to improve. Many people think that feedback focuses on criticism and they must focus on the flaws, but you also need to include compliments in your feedback. This way, your assistant can know what he or she needs to continue doing while avoiding mistakes.
Be very clear about what is working and what isn’t. Vague input like, “that blog article didn’t sound like me” doesn’t help the virtual assistant improve. Clear suggestions like “I tend to use contractions and don’t like using the phraseyou should” in my writing,” give better guidance and instruction.

Pro Tip

Learn how your virtual assistant prefers to get feedback. Some would prefer lots of praise and support. Others might prefer to discuss via a call so they can better ask clarifying questions and hear your tone when delivered.

Be Kind, Realistic and Patient

If you're working with an assistant then you need to be kind, realistic and patient throughout the process. Each of these points remind you to treat your assistant with respect so you can make it easier for you both to work together. If you don't, then your assistant may quit and you could find yourself in a rough spot in the future.

Each of these points will help you to show respect towards your assistant. For example, if you're kind, then you will remember to avoid hurtful words or anything that would offend your assistant. Being realistic will help you to avoid overloading your assistant with work while giving him or her the time needed to complete your assignments.

who to get started with your virtual assistant

This also includes being patient with your assistant, especially when you start working together. For example, you should give your assistant more time at first so you can get used to each other's work style. If you remember to show your assistant kindness, realism and patience, then you can maintain a good relationship and learn how to work together.

How to Get Started With Your Virtual Assistant

When you first get started with a virtual assistant or any other freelancer, there will be a period of adjustment. Follow these basic getting started tips to help you create a more successful working relationship from day one:

  • Establishing communication channels
  • Setting clear expectations
  • Delegating effectively
  • Providing detailed briefs
  • Managing tasks and projects
  • Offering feedback
  • Being kind, realistic and patient.

And, if the idea of managing your virtual teams is just a little more than you care to handle, Virtual A Team has the solution for you. Give us a call to discuss your needs.

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