Hiring a virtual assistant (VA) for your business is one of the best ways to increase your own productivity. A virtual assistant can do many tasks, ranging from graphic design, website development, and customer service, to routine or repetitive tasks that would otherwise suck up a lot of your time. Once you've hired a VA that seems a good fit for your business, you’ll begin to assign tasks. Here are a few tips to maximize the productivity of your virtual assistant.
Give Detailed Instructions
It’s important that your VA knows exactly how to perform the work you assign. You should provide your VA with step-by-step instructions for each task. There are many ways someone can accomplish a task. If actions must be performed in a specific order or fashion, or if it’s essential that specific choices are made, you must indicate this to your VA. Writing out a sequence of steps in a document or using a video tutorial are useful ways to teach a VA how to perform a task. Then, you can use these files again and again, whenever you hire a new VA. Whenever your VA has questions or needs reinforcement on a specific task, they have documented procedures to which they can refer.
Give Your VA Freedom
Your VA is a professional who is dedicated to your success. As such, he or she needs professional respect. One way of giving this is to allow freedom to make decisions. Don't micromanage every aspect of your VA's work. You should already have clearly outlined procedures in your detailed instructions. Let your VA complete work in his or her own way. If you end up controlling too many details, you’ll take away from both your and your VA’s productivity. In which case, you might as well not have hired a VA in the first place.
Make Expectations Clear
Don't assume your VA will know exactly what you expect when you assign a task -- especially the first time. Your VA needs, for example, clear deadlines and specific quotas. Clear expectations complement your detailed instructions. While your instructions tell your VA how to complete a specific task, expectations explain to your VA in specific terms what doing a "good job" on each task means. For example, how many times do you expect your VA to perform a specific task per week? How often do you expect certain notifications? By telling your VA exactly what you expect, you allow him or her to self-organize to best perform the assignments.
One way to help a VA assist you is to provide context for the work you assign. Whenever you assign a new task, explain to your VA how his or her actions will fit into your overall strategy. Your VA will then have a greater sense of purpose in his or her work, resulting in better performance. Remember, a good VA is passionate about helping you succeed. When you let your VA see the general direction of your projects, your VA can then provide more accurate and relevant work.
Minimize the Language Barrier
If English is not your VA's first language, you should use literal English whenever possible. Avoid idiomatic expressions, especially when giving essential instructions. Don't add linguistic obstacles that make interpreting your instructions or expectations more difficult. Another drawback to using idioms is that they can cover up your own imprecise thinking. If you can only think of an idiomatic way to describe an expectation, there is a chance the expectation is not clear enough in your mind. Strive to use literal language with your VA. It will result in better performance from your VA and clear up your own thinking.
Reading and understanding tips and pointers are one thing, but deploying them by taking rapid action is what will launch your business and your personal productivity. Now, go take action!