How to train your virtual assistant for the first time!
Having a VA is a great decision to free up some of your time, but it can end up as a frustrating process for both you and your assistant if you don’t provide adequate training to get the work done.
When hiring a virtual assistant many have in mind their expectations, but fail to be clear about them and provide guidance on how the work should be performed. A VA can be very competent, but without adequate communication it’s very difficult to get the work done the way you need it.
To make the hiring of a VA a successful choice you should consider the following guidelines to provide effective training for your new VA:
Step 1: Make a list of the activities you will need your VA to do
Are this tasks, projects or a role you need your VA to do?
Point out specifically the tasks, projects or roles you will need your VA to perform. Here are some quick guidelines to specify each:
Describe the tasks to be performed briefly: i.e. update calendar, online research, etc.
How often does each task need to be done?
What should be done with the results of the task? i.e. save research results in a excel spreadsheet in a shared file
Would you like a weekly or daily report of the work being done?
Provide an outline of the project: i.e. workshop to be delivered by you
Describe the end result of the project. i.e. sucessful coordination of all involved parties
Specify the work to be done with your VA within the project. i.e be the POC
Set deliverables and timelines. i.e. all coordination should be ready one week before the workshop occurs
Describe the role: i.e. community manager, virtual receptionist, etc.
During what time frame should it be performed? Must it be done performed during specific hours?
What are your expectations of the role?
How should the contacts with clients/suppliers be managed?
Step 2: Ask your assistant to document the work she learns in how-to guides
As you teach your VA how to perform the work you need ask him/her to document on how-to guides the guidelines used to perform the tasks. Finally, ask your VA to share the guidelines on a shared folder such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote or any other option so both can access the files.
These files will serve a small knowledge base for your VA when there are doubts on how to do the work. The files can also be used by a backup assistant to assume the work while your primary VA is out due to illness or vacations
Step 3: Set clear expectations of the work desired
The clearer you are the better! I strongly advice to either have a conference call or send a very specific e-mail on what your expectations are of the work to be performed.
Here’s an example of a poor explanation of expectations and a good one:
Poor definition of expectation:
I want a great work to be done with my Facebook community!
Good definition of expectation:
I need daily posts on my business Facebook page. Only posts that I have approved a week in advance should be posted. Posts should be based on the 3 marketing goals that I have outlined. I also expect each engagement to be answered in less than 24 hours according to the guideline I have sent previously about answering engagements.
Note the differences: The first examples outlines a desire, not a work expectation. The second one is specific, measurable, time limited, and provides specific guidelines
Step 4: Have video conferences with screen sharing to train your assistant quicker and more effectively on your tools
Yes, you have hired a virtual assistant, but your assistant is also a human being! Don’t avoid visual contact, it makes a HUGE difference for virtual work!
If you let your assistant put a face to your email address, work will simply be easier between both of you! As humans we need visual contact as part of an effective communication.
Virtual screen sharing is the new trend in remote IT assistance, but also in remote training. You don’t need to plan for a pod cast, simply be yourself and walk your new assistant through the tools to be used.
Step 5: Have in mind that there is a learning curve
As with any job, there is a learning curve. The learning curve consists in gaining ability to perform the tasks faster and better as they are repeated.
Start with simple tasks and then evolve to more complex ones as your VA develops progressively. Just remember, you have to be a little patient at the beginning to get the results you want in the end.
If you are aware that there is a learning curve for every VA, you won’t feel frustrated and will develop a work relationship that will prove to provide you greater results in the short term.
Putting it in practice:
The first step, if you have already decided to hire a VA, is to write down the work you need your VA to perform. This document will also help you to ask for quotes from VA firms or asses yourself the amount of time you need to hire from a VA.
Once you’ve done this you are ready to start delegating work effectively.
The next step is to have a video conference (ideally) for each of the steps described on this guide. You can also include two of the steps in one video call if you want, but just remember to follow through each of the recommendations.