Simply working with vs. making the most of your virtual assistants
Working with virtual assistants is a great way to lighten the load of responsibility on your shoulders, but what about making the most out of them? What this means is utilizing your virtual assistants to their full potential.
We already have a guide that explains how to work with virtual assistants if you’re a coach or speaker, but we’ve decided to publish a more general guide which guarantees you’ll be able to achieve maximum efficiency when working with your assistants.
Below you’ll find several tips that we’ve compiled which should ensure you don’t waste any time or resources on inefficient methods.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
#1 – Overcommunicate
This is so, so, so important! It’s actually a bit of a misnomer because it’s impossible to truly overcommunicate when working with an assistant. Why? Well, because you need them to know exactly what you need doing and how you want them to do it.
Be clear with your expectations and your assistant’s availability. It goes both ways. You need to know how much time they have. Otherwise, you risk overwhelming them with work and being stuck with sub-par results.
Don’t underestimate the value of communication, either. Cyn Meyer writes that “a survey of 400 companies revealed an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees.”
Apart from written communication, make sure to converse with your assistants with conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype. Again, don’t be afraid to “overcommunicate”. It’s much better to be exactly on the same page than for either of you to be blindly guessing.
You’ll see that a lot of other tips we list here will have to do with communication in one way or another.
#2 Be clear about priorities
This is, of course, related to communication. Virtual assistants are often bombarded with many tasks and it can sometimes be difficult for them to know which ones to focus on. Letting them know which tasks are the most important is crucial to making the most of your assistants.
Being clear about priorities can mean the difference between getting that really important project done on time and instead them answering a couple of insignificant emails.
Some things can wait; others are crucial. Let them know which are which.
#3 – Write out your standard operating procedures
Or SOPs. Making the most of your virtual assistants means having them know how you want a certain task completed. Although it can initially be time-consuming to set them up, SOPs can save you a lot of time in the long run.
By having them ready and on standby, you don’t have to explain things again and again to every assistant that comes your way. You just direct them to your ready-made instructions.
SOPs are a great way to present instructions. For some procedures, simple text may not be enough. In these cases, some creativity and different forms of media can definitely help (think flow charts and visuals or videos).
#4 – Make them part of the team
It can be easy to think that if someone’s working remotely for you, they’re not really an integral part of your business. However, making the most of your virtual assistants means involving them more deeply with your company or team.
Make them part of some meetings. Coach them and give them advice on how you want them to work. Be inclusive in your communication. This will help better synchronize your respective working styles and provide you with lots of benefits.
#5 – Show them respect and build trust
It’s okay, we get it. Sometimes it’s easy to think of a virtual assistant as a throwaway team member whom you really need not build that much rapport with. The truth, however, is far from that.
Studies have shown repeatedly that employees who feel like they’re respected invest more of their energy in the work they do. Trust and respect make employees engaged, and Cyn Meyer writes how “they’ll work harder and bring in 21% more profit than those who are unengaged.”
She also tells us how to foster trust and respect in five simple efforts:
- Foster an open communication culture
- Be consistent in everything you do
- Don’t be afraid to get in the trenches and do some work
- Have confidence in the decisions you make
- Take the time to teach and share your knowledge
#6 – Encourage and reward positive behaviour
Positive reinforcement is much more effective than negative reinforcement. If your virtual assistant does something you really like, rewarding them or even just giving words of praise goes a long way to making the most of them.
This will make it more likely for them to do these types of actions in the future. For example: if you want your virtual assistant to be more proactive, rewarding them whenever they are proactive will ensure that they’ll keep doing it more in the future.
#7 – Ask them for feedback
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your virtual assistant for feedback. Very often they can have unique insights into the work which might’ve slipped by you. They get very familiar with certain tasks and can easily tell you how to improve the workflow in many cases.
This is yet another important communicative exercise which builds trust and respect.
However, be careful to actually follow through by listening to their feedback and employ it if appropriate. Only then will this truly be effective.
And there you have it. We hope that our tips have made it easier for you to make the most of your virtual assistants.
As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of these have to do with communication. If there’s one thing you’re going to take away from this, let it be that open, honest, and clear communication goes a long way to ensuring that you and your virtual assistants function together in harmony.