You’ve hired a fantastic business-grade virtual assistant – now what?
The key to working effectively with your virtual assistant is to take the plunge and delegate, delegate, delegate. I know that’s hard. You may be reluctant to delegate tasks because, after all, who could do them better than you? It’s called superhero syndrome, and it’s very real – especially for driven, focused small business owners and entrepreneurs.
But you are not a superhero. You’re an executive or small business owner who realizes his own limits (and time limitations). That’s why you hired a virtual assistant. So learn to delegate. Give yourself the freedom to step away from tasks that don’t require your specialized attention and focus on the things only you can do.
Let’s get crackin’:
Step 1: Be Gone, Dreaded Tasks!
This very first step is my favorite part of the virtual assistant process. Why? Because you, quite literally, are ridding yourself of the hated, loathsome tasks that populate your to-do list and create that dreaded I’m-so-bored/anxious/miserable-I-want-to-cry pit in your stomach.
So here’s the deal. Grab a piece of paper, your favorite stylus, or open up a word processor, and make an exhaustive list of the things you hate to do. These can be anything from daily to-dos to hated once-a-week or once-a-month necessities. The only criteria: You really don’t enjoy it. If you never had to do this thing, ever again, you would be significantly happier and more satisfied with your work life.
Weight off your shoulders: Guess what? With a business-grade virtual assistant, if it can be delegated, it will be. If you so desire, you’ll never have to do any of these things, ever again.
Step 2: Say Goodbye to Mediocrity
This goes back to the desire to do all and be all. I know it’s hard to admit, but let’s face it: no one can do everything to the highest standard. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for one person – even if that person is you – to do the work of many.
You’re going to make a second list, but this one is a little different. Write down all the things you know you should do, but either don’t have the time, the expertise or the drive (desire) to do them. Additionally, note the tasks you already do, but not to an acceptable standard.
These items depend not only on your company, but also on you – on your expertise and preferences. Some prime examples include maintaining a social media presence across several platforms, or establishing a system to follow-up with leads on a set schedule. Bottom line: delegate tasks that your VA can do more efficiently, better and to a higher quality than you can.
Weight off your shoulders: The beauty of working with a high quality virtual assistant company is that you have immediate access to a wealth of business expertise. So if your Step 2 extends to web design changes and blogging and marketing and HR and, well, anything, you have instant access to expert virtual assistants with your required skills. You don’t have to relaunch the search for the perfect VA or go through another round of interviews; all you need do is contact your VA company and say, "Hey, I also need some web design."
Step 3: Document Your Instructions
It’s important to remember that even a highly qualified, business-grade VA with years of experience and expertise is still only as good as her instructions. The most important factor in successful delegation is establishing your expectations and guidelines. You have your own style and approach to company standards, and it is important to carefully establish detailed instructions that help your VA team match your tone. For example, are your company communications formal or do they take puns to the next level? Do your design standards adhere to a strict color palette, or do you branch out to all hues of the rainbow? Establishing a style guide will help your virtual assistant understand your company, without having to ask you dozens of questions along the way.
Weight off your shoulders: If you haven’t already documented your work guidelines, your new VA is the perfect solution. Carve out a time – with your VA – to document your expectations and standards. (Your VA can use several tools, among them Sweet Process, Jing and screencast.com, to help document these procedures.) Your virtual assistant will then turn your thoughts into a comprehensive training guide, so she or any future team member will always have a point of reference. This one-time investment will return itself 100 times over, as your VA is able to take over your tasks, perform them to your standards, and free up you time.
Step 4: Put Your Superpowers to Best Use
You’re not done writing yet! The third list you’ll make is a creative exercise, and one that will force you to stretch your limits and step a little outside your comfort zone. It goes back to the reason you hired a virtual assistant: you want to free up your time for pursuits only you’re qualified to follow.
Put your thinking cap on and start brainstorming on how to put your superpowers to best use. Make short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals for you and your business. What actions today will take your company to the next level tomorrow?
Got it? (It’s okay if your list is a work in progress.) Now, go back to step 2 and delegate to your VA anything that doesn’t need your specific attention, or that you don’t want to do. What’s left? Well, your paper (or screen) should be crowded with goals that excite you – tasks that you can’t wait to tackle.
Now, pencil these to-dos into your calendar with a permanent marker. Your time is free to dedicate yourself to these tasks, and only these tasks, for the next days, weeks and months. THIS is where your superpowers come into play.
Weight off your shoulders: If at any point you look at your calendar and realize you don’t have enough time in the day to complete your new goals, go back to Step 2. Re-delegate to your VA more of your daily, weekly and monthly chores, so you really, truly have time in your schedule to stretch your business-owner muscles. I know it’s hard to let go, but it’s worth it.
Step 5: Collaborate
You can put down your pen, because the next step is putting into place collaborative systems that will make your work and life infinitely easier. These are the programs, online software, and protocols that to make it simple to work with your virtual team.
The good news: you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Provided you’ve chosen a professional and experienced virtual assistant company, your VA will know exactly what systems to put in place to maximize collaboration and minimize headaches. A few examples:
- Basecamp/ActiveCollab/Confluence/Central Desktop/etc.: Your virtual assistant may recommend project management software designed for teams that work remotely.
- Google Calendar: Going virtual with your business calendar helps your VA schedule meetings, book travel, and generally manage your time.
- Email Management: There are many ways to let your VA manage your email, from simply giving access to your inbox to setting up a nifty management program to delegate email responses to your team. Your VA can recommend the best solution for you.
Weight off your shoulders: There’s no research required (at least, not on your behalf): your VA will recommend solutions; all you need do is approve them.