How to work with a virtual assistant in today’s fast-paced world?

Each VA can work differently depending on their experience. It is super-important to make sure expectations are made clear before any contracts are signed or payments made, this includes how tasks are communicated, timelines for completion or any specifics you need from them to understand that progress is being made. 

Communicate CLEARLY

I cannot emphasize this enough. Never assume that a virtual assistant, no matter how good they are or how wonderful their testimonials sound, can read your mind. Create a list of the things you’d like for them to do, and for those items that are appropriate, create an SOP (Standard Operation Procedure) for those items that must be done a specific way for your business. 

Set goals for every work assignment

This will help the CLEAR communication I was just talking about for your Virtual Assistant to understand the point of the assignment and what needs to be accomplished as the end result. I’d recommend creating a checklist of completion points as well as a video or SOP for the task itself if there are repeatable parts of it that can be referred to. Education and Teaching is the best way to communicate, and you never know, your VA may take their cue from you and start to communicate back the same way, 

Make sure they have access to the right programs and all required usernames and passwords for those programs –  Nothing is more frustrating than a VA who has set aside time to work on a big project for you and then realized they don’t have access to your web server, or never got access to your Google-account.

Set reasonable expectations

Understand that the first 4 weeks aren’t going to be perfect. No one can read another person in such a short time completely to be able to foresee or guess what they want before they know they want it. Having reasonable expectations for your VA in the first couple of months is vital to maintain an ongoing relationship that will be beneficial for you both. Not only will you have someone who is skilled at the things you don’t have the time or wherewithal to do yourself, but you will have the loyalty of someone who knows you will stick by them and give them the benefit of the doubt while they are learning the ropes. Empathy and understanding will always go a long way. 

Consider working with them on a “trial” basis

Now my other VA friends may not agree with this, but I have understood while working with my own clients, that it is difficult to “jump in head first” into a 3-month contract of hundreds or thousands of dollars without a lot of clout to base it on. In some cases, with Virtual Assistant Agencies that are more established, that may be possible, but if you are working with an individual who is running their own business, it may make more sense. If they are open to it, ask them for a smaller # of hours a month, have a couple of projects ready for them to hit the ground running on and then grow from there.

Ask them to update you once or twice a week

On the projects they are working on, the progress they have made, and any roadblocks they have come across and need help with – I’d recommend having a 30-minute touch-base at the beginning of every week and then asking them to send a “progress report” at the end of the day on Fridays to round it up. I’d also recommend communicating with them via Slack, FB messenger, or whatever preferred method of instant messaging you use if something comes up you want to talk to them about. 

Use a project management tool like Asana/Clickup/Trello

there are tons of varieties out there depending on your mood or personality, but they are extremely helpful in organizing your tasks and projects for your VA. If your Virtual Assistant has some experience, they will be familiar with these tools and even know how to get them optimized for you. 

Praise early and often

Positive reinforcement isn’t just a good way to raise children, it is a great way to encourage others around you, especially those that are working for you to reach your goals. Imagine you are working on a project, and you don’t get any feedback for weeks. You aren’t going to really feel like working on it much more even if you are very intrinsically motivated. Now imaging the person you are doing the work for checks in occasionally and thank you and praises you for the work that you have done, or shows their appreciation with a coffee gift-card or a testimonial for their website, or even just a kind email about their appreciation. Would you work that much harder? Yes, you would! Feed that inner ego and you will most definitely reap the rewards. 

With these tips, you will have a better chance at starting and keeping a Virtual Assistant for your business for as long as you may need them, increasing productivity and ultimate success.

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