10 Strategies to Make Your Virtual Assistant More Productive

Playing the role of an entrepreneur in a new business is never easy as you are super busy with multitudes of activities every day.

Moreover, having the steering of a budding business initiative with the great task of taking it to new phenomenal heights can be very frustrating at times; more so because you would see your entire team looking up to you every day for finalizing a decision.

You have probably taken the vital decision of doing away with your office assistant finally or not keeping a nagging personal secretary anymore and, in turn, opted for getting some of the daily brief tasks done by some virtual assistants.

virtual-assistant

But is that all you need from those experienced and dedicated VAs- just getting some tasks completed?

No, right?

Okay ask one more question- is there any satisfying element present in your relationship with the VAs? Still looking for a convincing answer?

Think again!

“With great power, comes great responsibilities”.

You can, however, bend, shape up and tone your powers to add a twist to your responsibilities. Virtual Assistants are powerfully charged set of talents who would unfurl creativity and reach new professional horizons if they receive some motivational dose. One explicit fact is that the success of their careers depend on you and, of course, they value you and your work. But what stays implicit is that they can actually accelerate the success and availability of your business if they feel inspired and ready to share more.

Therefore, one good way to manage this relationship, which holds good potential of mutual benefits, is to change the approach towards it. Do not think they are hired for doing a job, build a partnership and reign!

Saying this seems easy, right? Actually doing it is easier if you follow some tactful techniques to get your geographically distant VAs going farther.

HOW?

Let’s find out.

1. Clarify

I am sure you have never encountered ‘clarification of information’ as an issue and have always maintained emails while delegating tasks to VAs. But, from my own professional experience, I have observed that VAs often find the information sent through emails inadequate and a series of repetitive follow-ups are done which results in a waste of time of both the parties.

Your VAs are always ready to take up calls on behalf of you, make your sales report, get your seminars transcribed and, thus, making your job easy. But if the tasks sent to them have minimum information (in some cases, just a link and nothing else), the task completion would certainly demand more research, cause awkwardness and result is a series of follow-ups with innumerable how-to-do this, are-you-sure and please-see-if-it-is-okay. This is those kinds of jobs where you work alone in a small home office and nobody around the corner to help you with. So this small back and fort communications are quite common.

You can avoid this with very minimal efforts.

  • Provide a clear but brief task outline. Too long instructions would waste time and too brief is no good as well.
  • If you have any specific protocols for doing tasks, share it with your VAs. An informed mind is always productive.
  • Be specific and include all the Dos and Don’ts in the instruction.
  • Avoid being wordy. Keep the comprehension level high.
  • While it is not absolutely necessary, you can always consider building an open instructional manual. This might take some time but always better than writing same things over and again.

Clarification is essential to avoid misunderstanding, hassles and a waste of valuable time. Check out the links below to understand why 'clarification of information' is essential:

Creating Clear Instructions and Limits for Your VAs
7 tips on how to give clear, understandable instructions to staff
Giving Clear Instructions

2.  Delegating Skill

Build a Different Approach to delegating. While you consider yourself a pro in this by now, delegating is actually quite a skillful task. It is often not enough to give task-specific instruction because delegation has many more aspects to work on.

For example, seeking a blog to be written on a given topic does not provide any information about what writing styles you prefer and your company guidelines about blog writing. Moreover, if you seek building a partnership with VAs, expecting them to act like partners with limited information is futile. Try some other simple techniques instead.

  • Provide your VA partners with a comprehensive vision of your company objectives. It is the first stepping stone to success.
  • Aid the VAs to leverage your busy schedule by delegating them routine tasks. The formula is simple- you do the outdoor things while your partners manage the indoor.
  • Always specify the deadline of your projects.
  • If you think that your job could be completed within a time period, specify that too. Your VA partners would shape up their working time accordingly.

Additional resources you can check in order to build a different approach to delegating:

Successful Delegation Using the Power of Other People's Help
How to Delegate the Right Tasks to The Right People: Effective Management Skills for Leadership Success
How to Delegate Work Effectively

3. Feeling Of Togetherness

Have brainstorming session with your VA. How many times have you heard or read that VAs are above all help; they do not need assistance, they just know how to do things?

A hundred times, I am sure! It is almost equal to considering that VAs are miraculous professionals endowed with omnipotent knowledge. It is a comforting thought, but has no relation with reality.

Yes, you read it right!

Virtual Assistance is an umbrella term that includes many job roles and different levels of expertise and, for the completion of tasks, VAs actually look forward to having interactive sessions so that the talent is used in the right direction.

  • Start an informal conversation session to know what you really feel about the project sent.
  • Prioritize them by stating the reason for which they are particularly selected for that task. This would give them an ego boost.
  • Deliver good ideas, remarkable findings and any new update with them while the task in in progress. You can never fully conceive the outstanding result which comes up with the blending of prompt skill and right knowledge.
  • Constantly look for their opinion. See what they have to offer. Fruitfulness of any brainstorming session lies in mutual efforts.

Interactive sessions with VAs are a way to pitch innovative ideas and resolve critical issues, helping to build relationships. Some additional resources are given below. Read on to know how regular interactive sessions help in an open and honest exchange of ideas.

Tips For Using Your VA To Brainstorm For New Products Or Services
The Do’s and Don’ts of Great Brainstorming

4. OVERCOMMUNICATE w/ Your VA !

Remember they are working from home and they don't have the shared feelings of employee. So Don't Just Communicate, OverCommunicate with them. Wondering whether that would be excessive?

Know that VAs are loaded with multiple tasks every day. There are countless negotiations, innumerable queries, mounting pressure and, of course, a lot of things to keep up with. While a specific set of instruction is always sent, no two tasks are same in nature.

I have seen VAs falling into the pitfall of following previous set of instructions in case of routine tasks and getting baffled with the requirements of the new task later on. But such realizations come late and that is never partnership healthy.

In simple words, you need to know what your partner needs to know.

With everything virtual, communication is only bridge that builds your impression image in the minds of VAs and vice versa. Therefore, communication goes way beyond just instruction; it is a whole new world with something to discover every day.

  • Ask your VA whether your language is compatible with their comprehension abilities. Do not let them go around everywhere to derive meaning. Instead, simplify and let them find out themselves.
  • Try to be prompt in your replies. Constructive ones are not always possible but send brief or automated notes saying you would get back soon.
  • Keep a document for all tasks and keep updating it. Find a shared software in which you and your VA partners would work together so that everything is documented on time.
  • Do not let the communicative channels break down. Help them with time investment.

Communication is the key to success. Business communication is often considered as a problem solving activity. Know more about the benefits of effective business communication by checking the additional resources below:

How to Communicate with Your VA
How to Manage VA
Virtual Culture: Over-Communicate

5. Knowing Your VA

While striking a partnership, we never set daily goals. Short term planning always comes second to long term ones especially if you are a growth oriented entrepreneur. While you concentrate on enjoying prolonged benefits from professional relationships, do not forget to include your VAs into the list too because they are capable of offering much more than what they generally do.

  • Start with knowing the worth and capability of your VA. Get a thorough understanding of what kinds of work they prefer, their working schedule, what they dream of doing and how they react to off-beat projects.
  • With the information, look for projects with greater suitability. Make them confront challenge gradually and see their potential and promptness of delivering results.
  • Once the performance line is carved out, set up plans. You can delegate a series of related projects with a specific time period; make it for 30,60 or 90 days. And add different deadlines with a chance of reworking. While the VAs stretch up their potential to achieve the target, you have the benefit of monitoring, contributing and modifying the work as per your preference.

Well, that looks like a good partnership! Go for it.

Irrespective of the type of business you own, knowing your VAs and planning your business strategies with them help you grow your business and take it toward success. To know more, check out some additional resources below:

10 Tips to Maximize Your Partnership with a VA
Hiring a VA: The process
The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a VA

6. Building Healthy Work Relationship

VAs are always eager to hear from you and they will be so always. Their professional time starts with your query and ends with your happiness. Many dedicated VAs that I have come across prioritize the client communication over everything else. While they realize that it is important to keep talking to you, you can also take some steps to improve your communication.

How do you interact with them- through emails? Sound good. Through freelancing channels? Okay. Also through mobile communicative channels, Skype as well as social media platforms?

You need to sort out!

There is indeed a plethora of communicative channels available but not all are meant for effective communication. If the communication is scattered, there is possibility that your message would remain hidden and late discovery would not yield any positive result. Do not let your VAs go digging for information. Organize them.

  • It is always better to communicate through emails. If the VA is having any Customer Relationship Management software, make sure to create a task there.
  • Use Dropbox to share files
  • Trello or Asana are good places for keeping a track on task progress. Encourage your VAs to use it.

Communication is extremely important as it can help to foster a good working relationship between you and your VA. Check out some additional resources to know how effective communication between you and your VA can improve your business:

How to Effectively and Efficiently Utilize Your New VA
How to communicate daily with your VA – Verifying the deliverables

7. Getting VA Involved

Involvement comes when your VAs feel responsible for the outcome of their performed jobs. When tasks are assigned for a day-to-day basis, I have seen that VAs often lack the interest of taking charge of or being held accountable for any error. This requires realization which might come from persuasion too. And in business, we do not coax verbally, we use strategies to get things right.

  • Do not offer them the chance to point their fingers at you after a blunder. Make sure they are provided with everything they want.
  • Use different and engaging language. It is always better to use ‘the job in store for you might be of your interest, let’s check out’ than ‘the tasks to be done is’ or ‘I have delegated a task for you.’
  • Ask the VA whether they are comfortable with the assigned project.
  • Encourage them to speak their mind. Be open to everything- both acceptance and rejection.
  • Open up the project to them and let them provide their own inputs if they feel those are necessary. When originality is introduced beyond instruction, involvement level is sure to soar up.
  • Send a token of appreciation when you are happy. Provide feedback when things need to be changed. But in both cases, good will maintenance is important.

Involvement on the part of your VA is essential to ensure impeccable outcome. However, it is also essential that as a client you must clearly know how to communicate your requirements to your virtual assistants. Some additional links are shared here which will help you get a better understanding of your VA's involvement:

Building a Better Relationship with your Team
The Importance of Communication in Business with VAs

8. Being Professional But Kind

When you send out tasks, I understand that you need to get it done in some time. When you send tasks frequently, I understand that there are multiple deadlines to be met. When you send negative feedbacks, I understand that there are rooms for improvement. But when negative feedbacks are sent frequently, my productivity might be affected greatly with frustration overwhelming the professional senses.

If you do not do it, it’s all fine. If you do it, there is always a room for discussion. With my long association with VAs, I understand that the job demands greater efficiency and causes apprehension when a stone is turned frequently. Avoid doing it and understand that VAs, as human beings, are bound to commit some mistakes. As the saying goes, “to err is human.”

Therefore, be kind and provide energy through effective words. While deadlines and instructions are parts of your profession, lending a humane touch and having kind considerations are also valuable aspects of your partnership. Keep them.

When working with your VA, you must know how to maintain poise. Give clear instructions, set deadlines but keep your kind words reserved when you are dealing with your virtual assistant. A few resources that you can check to build a different approach to professionalism:

How to Train your VA
Hiring A VA: Establishing a relationship

9. Being Honest And Transparent

The first rule of negotiation in business is to have a transparent language. While it is understood that absolute honesty in business relationships is not possible, it is always ethical to let your partners know the truth which they need to know in order to drive regular activities. Make the appropriate analysis of how much can be shared. But keep your VAs informed about tasks they are involved in. It helps them to gain a better perspective of things.

By being honest and transparent with your virtual assistant, you can actually resolve a lot of issues. Here are some additional resources to help you have a deeper understanding on honesty and transparency:

Is your VA up to date? Things you should know about your VA before outsourcing tech project!
The Top 10 Mistakes That'll Kill Your Outsourcing Relationships

10 . Changing Attitude Towards VA

You can always think of your VAs as your helping hands, but such a thought does not reflect any wisdom. VAs are not individuals catering to your requirements, they are a team which aids you in managing your business activities. Give them the required recognition and acknowledgement and make them feel valued. It is always beneficial to let them know that you consider them partners and feel accountable for their work.

Remember, your VA is your partner in your business and that is why it is important to develop a mutual trust and a strategic relationship with them to make your business flourish. Additional resources you can check to know how an amicable and professional attitude can help build your relationship with your VA:

11 Hacks for Getting the Most out of a VA
4 Ways to Work with VA to Build Your Online Personal Brand

Your VAs would also gradually start to assume more responsibilities than what is expected out of them. When you think out-of-box, you keep changing the stipulated norms. Assist your VAs to have a transformed and more positive approach towards you and watch what treasure they are capable of fetching for you. Take steps together and build an empire!


Sahin Shaik is the Sr. Manager (Process Control) at MyTasker, a virtual assistant company. He started his career as a Master in Computer Science and Technology. He is extremely passionate about his work and nurtures an ardent love for Music and Arts. You can follow him on LinkedIn.