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Take the TimeWasting Task Off of your Business: 5 Tips to Working Together Well

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Resource + Procedure = Results – it’s a basic truth in both life and business.  One of the best ways to evolve  and take your business to the next level is to bring in a virtual assistant. They can take on the tasks that you don’t need to do, freeing you up to focus on leadership and growing your business.

Working with a virtual assistant is a learned skill and an incredibly helpful one. Learning to work successfully with a VA will not only benefit that partnership but every other person you lead or work with in the future.

We’re happy to share a few key ideas that will jumpstart the partnership and keep you and your VA on track. Here are our top 5 tips to make it feel like your VA is at the desk right next to yours.

1. Have Clear Expectations and Communicate Them
Write. It. Down. Truly – ambiguity or not knowing exactly what you want will hobble your VA, limiting their effectiveness.

Taking the time to write out your goals in the partnership, what outcomes you want, and how you like to work will lay the groundwork for success for both of you. Focus on telling your VA what you DO want, rather than what you don’t.

Also, check in with your expectations. Any transition has its bumps and wobbles. Recognize that there will be ups and downs and allow for it. Interestingly enough, the more accepting you are of the realities of transition, the faster and easier the transition will be.

2. Establish your workflow early.
This – and really all 4 of the remaining tips – results directly from how well you’ve clarified and communicated your needs and expectations. Address specific issues like the hours you want your VA to be available, if it matters, and the level of responsiveness you need.
You can ask your VA to send weekly (or monthly or daily) updates on the tasks they’ve done and how long each took, as well as any questions or concerns. Find a comfortable shared working environment, whether it’s Google docs, Dropbox, or another system, then stick with it long enough for everyone to acclimate.

3. Give very detailed instructions.
Assume nothing. Be specific. Your VA WANTS to learn enough about your business to be able to react instinctively and correctly, but that takes time and education. The more detail you can share up front with your VA, the faster they will be able to anticipate your needs.

Recognize that there are an infinite number of ways to do most tasks with different industry standards; your VA won’t necessarily automatically do the task YOUR way unless you tell them clearly what you want. If you can show an example of the finished product or a step-by-step breakdown, that will make life easier for everyone and get you the results you want faster. One great way to make sure your VA understands what you want is to ask them to verify and repeat back to you what they think the task is.

4. Make Communication a Priority.
Abundant, clear, respectful communication is critical to a great partnership with your VA. You probably have your preferred method of communication – email, text, phone calls – and your VA will be happy to accommodate that. But keep in mind that they have natural communication preferences as well. Your VA may learn best from a quick phone call, or work better with written instructions. Especially in the first stages of the partnership, work together to ensure that you are communicating in ways that suit both of you to maximize efficiency.

Allow your VA two to three times longer to do a task in the beginning then it would take you – they have a learning curve too, and will become faster with time and experience. Also, check in on longer tasks when they are 10-30% done. This allows your VA to ask any questions that have come up as they started the task, and lets you update any instructions that might have been unclear or ineffective.

5. Reward What You Value
Giving your VA feedback is integral to success. Too frequently, though, we all focus on what needs fixing rather than what worked out well. Praise the things your VA did right, and they will bend over backward to do them again for you, whether its timeliness, presentation, content, or creativity. Consider yourself partly their mentor, as well as their boss, and your VA will blossom.

Working with a VA can be an incredibly efficient and rewarding experience. Taking the time to start off on the right foot at the beginning will quickly take the “virtual” out of Virtual Assistant. With a little effort and a few best practices, you’ll quickly feel that they are right next door!


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