How to work with a virtual assistant

At Get Staffed Up, we’re known for often repeating the saying: “delegate your way to freedom”. Because we believe in our mission so much (to liberate lawyers with incredible offshore talent), we are happy to help teach you how to most effectively work with a virtual team member, even if you don’t use our services. We were recently featured in a series of online training videos, and the information was so good (ahem), that we transcribed the information and put it in our blog. Without further ado, we give you five tips on how to work with a virtual assistant.

1. Define expectations and be clear on what you want.            

You have seen this happen before where people just say “okay, I need you to do my email and I need you to make some phone calls,…” and they just throw out this kind of word vomit on the new employee. This creates a lot of friction for the employee, right? This is why it is so important to have a job description and be really clear on what you want.

If you’re hiring what we like to call a virtual Clerical Team Member, and they’re going to be in charge of learning how to do your email, setting up your calendar, scheduling lunch meetings,… then, teach them how to do that first and be very specific with the objectives. If you’re training someone on email, it can’t just be “here’s how you respond” and “call me twice a day”, because to get off to a got start, you must make sure that you completely layout in writing what the most important tasks are and, specifically, what the outcomes and objectives are.

2. End of day report and weekly scorecard.

For the end of the day report you can come up with whatever template that you like. The one that we use for our own team has about five sections: shift time, lunch time, highlights, lowlights, and tasks. Highlights are the good things that happened that day and lowlights are anything we need to be aware of. Then you have all of the tasks that they did, just to give you an update and if they need help with something. If you’re not sure what your virtual assistant is doing all day because they’re not in front of you, we’ve learned that it’s best to ask for an end of day report and it’s really helpful to learn their workload and how much they can do in a day.

On the other hand, the weekly scorecard is essential for good feedback, communication, and for actually getting things done, which is why you hired a virtual assistant in the first place. For example, if you hire a marketing assistant, you can line items of 10 to 15 weekly tasks that you want to assign to him or her: 1) Send a newsletter weekly. 2) Upload three new leads daily. 3) LinkedIn, and then you can have several columns that say: comment on 5 posts per week, 15 contacts added, no miss responses to comments, among other tasks. This means your assistant will be engaging with your contacts and find potential new clients on social media. People will question how are you all over the place, but it’s really just that you are delegating. Getting back to the scorecard, at the end of each week you will know their scores and have a profile of their performance and you can start giving them more things to do.

3. Meeting rhythm.

This is a really important part of a business that is just kind of catching on, and I think that it really can change the entire business, not just when working with virtual assistants. If you have a daily morning huddle where the in-house team gets together and really connects, you can absolutely do that with your virtual team. At Get Staffed Up, we have screenshots of all nine of our team members on one computer screen talking every morning about what was good about yesterday, what they’re going to do today and what they need help with. So, check in every morning with your virtual assistant even if it’s only for a short time. Some people use WhatsApp, we prefer video, but that’s up to you, and then, also try a longer weekly meeting of 60 to 90 minutes. The length is up to you, but use these meetings to review ongoing projects and give feedback on a consistent basis.

4. Have the right technology.

It’s important to invest time in learning about all the technology and the new softwares you are going to need. For example, if your virtual team member is going to be answering the phones, get a VoIP system. It’s the same connection as somebody that is next to you at your office.

We like to use Amazon Chime, where you can hold meetings and chats with your team virtually, or Google Hangouts. In terms of file-sharing, you can set the assistant up with their own email and set up Dropbox account or a Google Drive or whatever you prefer. It’s not a huge difference between the tools that you would need for someone who is down the hall as somebody who’s virtual. I know you might have thought that it was going to be harder than that, but it doesn’t need to be, you don’t need to make it harder.

5. Give consistent feedback.

We like to have monthly and quarterly conversations with our team members in order to make sure they have a chance to ask us questions like “what am I doing wrong? what can I do better?”. A lot of your weekly meetings are more of “I need this done. How are we on this?”, but by having monthly and then quarterly reviews and giving them the chance to ask you questions, are better than taking a whole year before someone learns they’re not doing something right that you would like him or her to do. So, feedback is important because it keeps everyone on track, it promotes growth, it helps to avoid mistakes, it optimizes work process and get things done and, the most important, it motivates employees and builds a healthy work environment.

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