Virtual assistants are a godsend for small to medium-sized businesses that need some help but cannot afford to hire a full-time assistant just yet. Typically, virtual assistants are remote workers from all over the world and are either experts or generalists. That is, some have had training while others have themselves. Either way, they can prove to be a lot of help but it must be remembered that hiring one will pose a few challenges. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.
- Ask other people with virtual assistants for their feedback. There is a lot of information you can get from someone who has already gone through the motions with their own virtual assistant so do not be afraid to ask. This can allow you to compare notes and see which method of management is best for you and your virtual assistant.
- Ask them to repeat the task you assigned in their own words. Nothing quite compares to allowing someone to explain something to you in their own words to know that they truly understood. Ask them for the time you set, and allow them to ask questions if they have any. Do not regard any of their queries as petty or irrelevant — especially if they have a culture different from yours.
- Be specific with your instructions. There are a lot of things that can get lost in translation even if you both speak the same language so make sure the instructions you give are to the letter. Do not assume that they will instinctively know what to do so do not leave any gaps in your instructions because it could cause you a spot of trouble if they understood differently.
- Give them a trial run. You may have hired that virtual assistant because they have the skills you need but it is still better to check if they are up to the tasks you assign. Make them do a variety of things so you can assess where their strengths and weaknesses are. This way, you avoid encountering major snags along the road.
- Set up a schedule. Your virtual assistant may be working in a different time zone and you must make sure to set a schedule that is convenient for both of you. While it may be tempting to tell them to be online when you are, you have to take into consideration that it may be at odd hours wherever they are. If you want them online and available to you at certain times, let them know.
- Tell them what you want to accomplish. This can be a generalized goal that has been broken down into more manageable parts. This will ensure that they know what skills will be required and they can do a bit more of prep on their part. One way to track this is to ask them to send you a regular report of what they managed to do and how long it took them to do it.
- Use various methods of communication and use them often. It can be your business VoIP or instant messaging, as long as you make sure you get in touch with them frequently. Once you have reached a certain level of understanding, you no longer have to call or e-mail as much but be sure to keep the lines of communication open.