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How to Continue Getting the Most out of Your Virtual Assistant

Barnaby

Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

9 minute read

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If you're an entrepreneur or business owner, you already know that there's never enough time to achieve all you want. Virtual assistants have been the answer many entrepreneurs have been looking for when their schedules become slammed.

But finding the right virtual assistant to help you with your workload is just the first step. To make the most out of your virtual assistant, you need to consider your relationship carefully and make sure that you're setting yourself up for a long, productive collaboration.

So if you're looking for the best tips on how to keep your relationship with your virtual assistant running smoothly, we put together a comprehensive list of points that will help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.

1. Be realistic

A skilled virtual assistant is an excellent solution for clearing up your schedule so you can delegate some tasks and focus on more pressing business requirements. However, it's important to be realistic when looking for a virtual assistant and understand from the very beginning what it actually means to work with a VA.

There are indeed countless possibilities when it comes to assigning tasks to your virtual assistant, but you need to make sure that your VA has a well-defined range of responsibilities.

To put it simply, it's essential to have realistic expectations about the help you can get from a VA and be clear about it. Try always to provide clear and concise instructions for the tasks you want to delegate and set realistic deadlines. If you don't communicate what you need clearly, your VA won't be able to read your mind, so you'll end up losing time and money in the long run.

It's essential to understand that finding what works for you and your virtual assistant will take some time. It's always a good idea to get to know your VA with a quick, informal chat to ensure that you're both on the same page.

Set up your expectations from the very beginning, especially in terms of availability and compensation, so there are no surprises down the road. Make sure your VA understands exactly what you need and get confirmation they can realistically complete the tasks assigned to them on time.

2. Feedback is a two-way street

When you work with a virtual assistant, it's crucial not only to provide them with feedback on the tasks they complete but also to ask them for their feedback.

Asking your VA for feedback regarding the tasks at hand is an excellent way to increase engagement and make them feel respected. For instance, you can ask your VA for input on how certain processes are going or to contribute their ideas on a specific project.

Keep in mind that just asking for feedback does absolutely no good if you don't also listen to it. Listen to the input your VA offers and make sure they also feel like their opinion matters.

Many business owners are reluctant to act on feedback because they believe their business should be built on their own ideas. However, using your team for brainstorming tends to yield great results. Did you know that even though 60% of the employees in the US have a way to provide feedback to management, only 30% report that their feedback is actually taken into consideration and acted upon?

3. Keep track of tasks

Tracking your VA's daily progress is the best way to make sure tasks are completed in a timely manner. Most VAs work from home, and while this shouldn't be an issue in most cases, you need to rely on trust and honesty because your virtual assistant can't simply punch a time clock.

Keeping track of the progress is essential, but you should not focus too much on when your virtual assistant is working but on deliverables instead. Many business owners prefer to use time tracking software that records every minute someone works during the day. Besides monitoring what someone is doing on their computer, these programs are also useful because they allow you to see where the majority of the time goals and set specific goals for your project.

With time tracking software, you can keep track of all tasks that have been assigned, and you can also use it for billing. Some programs sync in the cloud, so you can also get instant access to your virtual assistant schedule.

4. Dedicate time to improve the relationship

Virtual assistants can become one of the most valuable assets in your business, but you shouldn't take them for granted. By dedicating time to improve your relationship, you can make sure your assistant will be with you for the foreseeable future, so you don't have to go through the process of finding a new assistant and training them from scratch.

To improve the relationship you have with your virtual assistant, make sure you always keep communication open, starting from the onboarding process during the first few weeks. Make yourself available for any questions your assistant may have and trust them to complete the task and all for later feedback once you feel they are capable of working without your supervision.

Setting up a schedule for video or voice calls, whether once a week or once a month, can help you improve the relationship you have with your virtual assistant. Communicating by voice or video can help you pick up cues that you wouldn't normally be able to notice via email or chat.

Having a good relationship with your virtual assistant is essential because VAs will feel cared for by their employer are more likely to be motivated to work harder.

5. Keep putting in the effort

It's rather easy to neglect your virtual assistant, especially if you don't communicate with them face-to-face on a regular basis. Even though you believe you have a good relationship, don't forget to keep putting in the effort to make sure that doesn't change.

Remember that things will not always be perfect with your virtual assistant. Still, by putting in effort and remembering that they are only human, you can build a long-lasting relationship with a person who will appreciate you for it and might also be more invested in your success.

Treat your virtual assistant with respect as you would do with any of your other employees. Make an effort to acknowledge their hard work on a regular basis and provide constructive feedback. Most business owners had more success building long-lasting relationships with their virtual assistants when they got to know them a bit more on a personal level, too.

6. Micromanaging

No one likes to be micromanaged because this typically sets a premise that there's not enough trust between an employer and their employees. This is also true in the case of working with a virtual assistant. If you micromanage them too much, your VA may end up feeling resentful and unvalued.

However, it's important to be prepared to micromanage if required because your relationship with your virtual assistant is very unlikely to be a hands-off one. Micromanaging is counterintuitive if you overdo it, so you should do your best to find a middle ground and keep an eye on your virtual assistant without being overbearing.

The good news is that if you set clear expectations with your VA, there should be little to no need to micromanage them.

7. Keep communicating and investing

One of the best ways to support your virtual assistant and invest in your relationship is to help them with education and training. Try to communicate frequently with your assistant and discover what new skills they are interested in acquiring to advance their career and help them achieve their goals.

Continuing education has lots of benefits not just for your virtual assistant, who will be able to advance their career, but also for your business, as you will be the first one to reap the rewards of their new training.

Some examples of investing in your virtual assistant include signing them up for various courses related to their job or even paying for various courses to help your business. For example, if you mostly use the services of a virtual assistant for your social media needs, you may sign them up for a course related to Facebook ads or engagement on Instagram.

8. Consider perks and rewards

Employee recognition is key to maintaining motivation and engagement. Everyone likes to know that they have done a job well, and virtual assistants are no exception. If you feel that your virtual assistant has significantly is your workload and completed their tasks on time, don't hesitate to show it by appreciating them.

A simple thank you can do a lot to motivate employees, but you should consider offering your virtual assistant various perks and rewards from time to time. This could be anything from technology products such as a laptop upgrade, better headphones, or a new app that can make their work easier to special treats such as a gift voucher for an online store or a local restaurant in their area.

You could also arrange for a surprise delivery to your virtual assistance home — some flowers or cake for their birthday or simply a surprise pizza delivery to help them out while they are working hard to meet the deadline can definitely motivate your VA and boost their loyalty.

If you work with a virtual assistant for a long period of time, you should make it easy for them to take some breaks away from work when they want to.

9. Aim to increase responsibilities

Once you have established a long-term relationship with your virtual assistant, it's time to evaluate whether you can assign them more responsibilities to ease your workload even more.

Many virtual assistants deal with a variety of tasks such as data entry, social media management, handling customer phone calls, market research, and many more others. A virtual assistant with the right skill set can do more than one job for you. For example, suppose you feel that your virtual assistant is rocking their social media responsibilities. In that case, you may try to increase their responsibilities by having them take care of your emails and phone calls, for example.

One of the easiest ways to increase the responsibilities of your virtual assistant is to encourage them to talk about their skills that you could use for your business. It goes without saying that you should always make sure you compensate your virtual assistant fairly as you increase their responsibilities.

Best tips to retain your assistant

Now that you have seen how to get the most out of your virtual assistant, it's time to ensure that you retain them for a long period of time. After all, it's not easy to find a dedicated virtual assistant who clicks with you and is just a good fit for your particular business. If you have found them, follow these tips to make sure that they don't go away.

1. Make them feel welcomed

If your virtual assistant is local, invite them into the office to introduce them to staff, show them around, and let them know how they can get in touch with you. If your VA is a remote worker, then you can follow the same process via a Skype or Zoom call. No matter how you conduct the face-to-face welcome, all that matters is your virtual assistant understands that they are an integral part of the company.

Virtual assistants, like most remote workers, may often feel like castaways. Try to help them get rid of those feelings by learning about what is going on in their lives on a regular basis and taking time to meet with them one on one at least once a month.

2. Always stay on top of payroll

It is essential to set clear expectations of how much your VA will get paid, whether they are paid hourly, on a contract basis or on a salary and how you will pay them. Sign a contract as part of the hiring process to outline all the particulars of the job and payments, so there are no questions when payday comes.

One of the most common reasons excellent virtual assistants leave a company is not getting paid on time. Try always to pay them as discussed because the knowledge of having quality and consistent pay is a great motivator for VAs to remain with your company. After all, you don't want them to go work for the competition just because you forgot to pay their monthly invoice on time.

3. Make communication simple

Most businesses use multiple communication methods with their employees and virtual assistants. Still, you should also make sure your VA knows how to get a hold of you in an emergency. If you use software such as Asana to assign due dates for various tasks, ensure your VA is already familiar with the process before setting up deadlines.

4. Keep them happy

Virtual assistants are typically happier than other employees because they are remote workers who can set their own hours and have a nice work/life balance. However, don't forget to ask them what they may need and ensure that they always feel included to keep them happy and motivated to give your company their best.

Sometimes, keeping your virtual assistant happy is as simple as some upgraded hardware, a change in routine to help them perform better, or additional training. You should also show them your appreciation with a Christmas bonus or a small but thoughtful gift on their birthday.

Assist them with time management

The ability to manage their time effectively is one of the obstacles most remote workers such as virtual assistance report. Even though they have the freedom to organize their lives as they want, some may struggle with scheduling their work time throughout the day.

This mostly happens in the case of virtual assistants who are also parents are caretakers for other members of the family. By providing training and tools that can help your virtual assistant manage their time better, you will gain not only a more productive employee but also someone who will be happy to work for a company that cares for their staff.

What to do if it doesn't work out?

No matter how well you vet candidates and try to build a relationship with your virtual assistant, sometimes it's just not a good fit. If you decide that it doesn't work despite your best efforts, it's important to remember that the job of a virtual assistant is to do their job to the best of their ability and deliver the work on time.

Sometimes, this is simply not happening. While it's never a good idea to terminate an engagement without trying to work out any issues that might appear, you shouldn't wait too long to end the relationship if your virtual assistant consistently misses deadlines or doesn't complete the tasks as expected.

You should try and make a ruling that gives a virtual assistant three chances. Discuss any issues that you are displeased with and ask them for solutions. If there is no improvement after three conversations, you should consider discontinuing working with them and move on.

Many business owners and entrepreneurs get discouraged by a couple of negative experiences with virtual assistants, but this shouldn't prevent you from trying again. Just like in any other business activity, you might not get it right the first time, so learn from your mistakes, and continue to search for a virtual assistant that will actually make your life easier.

Bottom Line

One thing small and large businesses have in common is the need for increasing revenue and be profitable. In order to boost productivity, you need to learn how to delegate processes so you can get the most from your resources.

By hiring a virtual assistant, you can boost productivity and focus on the most important aspects of your business that you are not ready to outsource. Virtual assistants fuel growth indirectly by streamlining operational efficiency. Because they can directly impact a company's success, it's crucial to learn how to get the most out of your virtual assistant.

Virtual assistants can cover everyday tasks that are repetitive and time-consuming, such as social media management or bookkeeping, for example. When working with a virtual assistant, it's important to understand that you need to set up clear expectations and monitor their progress. After all, virtual assistants can't just wave a magic wand and made everything better.

Once you have found a virtual assistant that you are happy with, it's time to start building a long-lasting relationship and get the most out of their skills while also helping them with extra training as needed.

The tips above are some of the best ways to improve work performance and establish a good relationship with your virtual assistant. Keeping your VA motivated and happy via constructive feedback and rewards for a job well done is the best way to be rewarded with a focused assistant that has your businesses' best interest at heart.

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About the author

Barnaby
Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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