The Biggest Problem with Training your Virtual Assistant: You!
Number 1 Tip: The first person you’ll need to train when you bring on an assistant is yourself. That’s right. You. You’re the one in charge. You’re the one with the vision. You’re the one who knows exactly how you want it done!
The biggest problem I see with virtual assistants training isn’t improper training or over training, but rather a complete lack of training. Too many people think their virtual assistants(VA) comes ready to use ‘out of the box’. However, your VA is a human being, not a software plugin.
At Global OfficeWorks, we do provide basic training to your staff, but they still need guidance from you.
1. Defining the Role
Before you can begin training a virtual assistant, you must define the role.
Small Business Trends CEO and publisher Anita Campbell knows the concept of hiring for the role, not the task. She strongly believes that tasks should be grouped and delegated to virtual assistants based on their functional expertise. So start off by asking yourself a few questions, such as:
- What are the core responsibilities of the role the virtual assistant will fill?
- What skills or traits does he or she need to properly fulfill the role?
- How will you measure success within this role?
2. Setting Expectations
Setting expectations between you and your virtual assistant is the cornerstone to successful virtual staffing. But remember, this is a two-way street. Your VA will also be counting on you to hold up your end of the deal.
- How will you track progress? We strongly recommend that you use a project management system such as www.Asana.com.
- What is your preferred method of communication? phone, text, email, Skype, Asana?
- What kind of response times do you expect for communications between you and your virtual assistant?
- What will you do if the work performed does not meet your standards?
3. Training, Not Assuming
Would you get mad at your calculator if you accidentally pressed the number two instead of five? Of course not… at least I hope not! The same principle applies when you’re communicating with virtual staff members. One of the greatest mistakes you can make as a leader is to assume your staff knows what you meant to say or what you should have said.
This is why the number-one rule to successfully harnessing the power of your virtual staff is never to assume anything—ever. That doesn’t mean your virtual assistant lacks common sense or is unable to connect the dots. What it means is that you need to be clear and concise. Don’t expect your VA to be a mind reader or to do something different than what you asked of him or her.
Here are two (incorrect) assumptions that you need to be aware of:
- If your virtual assistant doesn’t know how to do something, he or she will immediately ask for help. Wrong! Most virtual assistant would rather try and figure something out themselves instead of saying, “I don’t know how to do this,” or, “I need help.” In their eyes, asking these questions means letting you down. That’s why it’s important to consistently let your VA know that you welcome any questions that haven’t already been addressed in training.
- The virtual assistant will understand your definition of “a reasonable amount of time.” Here’s a typical direction many VAs receive: “Please (insert task here), but don’t take too much time on it. Just do your best and then move on.” What’s the definition of too much time? One hour? Four hours? An entire day?
Instead, try saying: “Please (insert task here), but don’t take any more than two hours on it. If you’ve reached the end of the two hours and haven’t finished, let me know and we can talk about it.”
This allows you to set boundaries and check-in points so that you can see how things are progressing—and it also creates a healthy challenge for your virtual assistant. Remember that whole idea of your VA not wanting to let you down? When you give VAs time limits, you’ll typically find that they finish their tasks within the established time frames.
If your virtual assistant still ends up coming back to you requesting more time, it’s probably because he or she really needs it.