Work Closely to Avoid Missteps
Though the logic behind hiring a personal assistant is to save time and diminish an individual’s workload, work closely with a virtual assistant in order to ensure the quality and consistency of the first few projects. Clear communication and direction will guarantee that the project does not need to be redone, which would be a waste of time and money for both parties involved. After the first briefing about a project, the virtual assistant should have a clear understanding of their performance expectations. They should be aware of deadlines, potential hiccups, and procedures to follow for each step of the process. This way, though the manager should be available to answer questions and give direction, they do not need to micromanage the entire endeavor, which would essentially mean completing the project themselves while paying someone else to do it.
Establish Criteria to Measure Performance
Many project managers make the mistake of assigning their virtual assistant to a task and then failing to offer any feedback before delegating a second assignment. Managers may also neglect to ensure that the quality of material they receive from their virtual assistant is actually saving them time. Since the virtual assistant is not a physical presence in the office, it can be difficult to conduct performance reviews or tactfully offer constructive criticism, but both must be done. By establishing criteria to measure a virtual assistant’s performance, both parties are clear on the expectations of each project. Furthermore, the virtual assistant knows what to do in order to continue meeting their manager’s needs, and will work even hard to achieve their performance goals.
Involve the VA Beyond Specific Projects
When first selecting a virtual assistant, introduce them to the goals and values of the business, rather than just the specific projects they will be working on. When a virtual assistant has knowledge of the context and overall intention of the projects they are expected to complete, they will do a much more thorough and insightful job completing those tasks. Similarly, virtual assistants with a broader knowledge of the company or individual they are working for are more likely to offer insights into challenges their manager is facing. These challenges do not necessarily have to be projects assigned to the virtual assistant, but the assistant should be aware of the pressing needs of their employer. That way, if they finish a project early or have an idea for another endeavor, they can suggest it and be confident that they are contributing to the success of the workplace in a larger capacity than just the tasks they are delegated.
With constant availability and accessibility of social media, email, and other messaging interfaces, it can be very difficult to keep track of who communicates to whom and on which platform. Instead, choose one application that the virtual assistant will use to ask questions or submit projects. Slack, for example, is a workplace messaging service that allows each employee to communicate directly with each other without filling up an email inbox with unnecessary correspondence. Use of this portal, or any other application, will streamline the communication process so that less time can be spent on checking various platforms, and more time can be spent on completing actual projects.
Develop a Process
Once the mode of communication has been established, design a process that walks the virtual assistant through every step of their project development. A site like Trello, for example, allows users to assign projects, give direction, then submit assignments and mark them as completed. The manager of the Trello board will then receive a notification that the project has been completed, and can then both archive the work and offer feedback on the final product. Developing a process for a virtual assistant to follow is an especially useful step, as it allows users to keep all their files in one place and keep track of a project’s progress from start to finish.