3Virtual assistants are on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are nearly four million assistants in the United States alone, and entrepreneurs are relying on them more than ever for delegating tasks ranging from copywriting to sales emails.
Their popularity continues to boom for a number of reasons: for one, virtual assistants typically come at a lower cost to business owners than full-time, in-house team members would, as they don't require benefits, extensive compensation packages, or office space. They're also credited with granting greater levels of productivity to businesses, because they're typically best used for delegating the more tedious tasks, such as email scraping or even graphic design.
Once you've hired your virtual assistant(s), it's important to have a clear cut plan on how to manage them most effectively.
Make training as easy and transparent as possible.
Training is far and away the most important part of the virtual assistant hiring process. Doing a poor job of training a virtual assistant can cause mistakes that wreak havoc, whereas having a well-trained virtual assistant can be like having a well-trained, well-oiled machine making your life and day-to-day far easier.
Rory Vaden's book, Procrastinate on Purpose, asserts the "30x Rule," which states you should spend 30x more time on training for one specific task than the time it takes you to do it. For example: if it takes you four minutes to add a client name to your company website, it should take 120 minutes, or two hours, to train your virtual assistant on how to do it.
Richard Phu shared on Medium that a great way to do this, or to train virtual assistants more generally, is by video: either video call with a shared screen, or recording your screen as an everlasting training video and resource for your virtual assistant's time working for you. Phu advises that the videos should be short and digestible (3-7 minutes) and be augmented by email scripts, templates, and other resources.
Host morning meetings with your virtual assistants.
One of the most important tasks of any manager is to make sure every team member is as clear as possible on the tasks of the day - and virtual assistants should be considered team members, too. Joel Kaplan, founder of Atlas Digital, sits down via video call with all of his virtual assistants for thirty minutes every morning Monday through Friday to delegate clear tasks for the day. "It's also a great time to see if they have any questions, and make sure they have everything they need," he shared. In preparing for these meetings, Kaplan recommends asking yourself, "How can I fire myself today?" In other words, what tasks can you delegate to virtual assistants to free up your time for creating, managing, or whatever you do best within your business? Write them down, and delegate them during these morning meetings.
Schedule meetings for the same time every weekday so that it's habitual - they don't have to be in the morning, necessarily. Some of your virtual assistants may be afternoon people and do better work during that window. Meeting should be led by those who do the managing, so if you've delegated that role to someone else on your team, make sure they run the meetings. These meetings are also only effective if everyone shows up, so make it clear that attendance is non-negotiable as part of each virtual assistant's job.
Delegate categorized tasks to each virtual assistant, depending on their skill sets.
It may seem easier to collect a list of various to-do's for the day and send them over to your virtual assistants, but a more efficient way of assigning tasks is to do it by role. This starts with defining each virtual assistant's role upon hiring - perhaps one has more experience in creating click funnels, and one has more experience in email management. Giving each virtual assistant a task within a particular silo will ensure that each of them is working in their zone of excellence, and that they have repeated practice with it to become an even greater asset.
Author of Virtual Freedom Chris Ducker notes in his book that defining the role and choosing the right virtual assistant for the job comes down to the question, "What are the core responsibilities of the role the VA will fill?" and "What skills or traits does he or she need to properly fulfill the role?" Once these are defined, you can delegate the tasks for the day into categories depending on each VA's role.
Implement measurement tools to track metrics such as clicks, readership, and other markers of productivity.
Since virtual assistants are always remote, it's more challenging to keep track of their metrics and performance than it would be if they were in-house team members. So, engage measurement tools that make the most sense for their tasks. Corbin Links advises to do this with different metrics depending on their tasks. For example: If their job is to drive traffic to content, keep track of the number of article views.
Links also recommends having them track the amount of time it takes them to do something with a tool like Toggl.com. That way, you can tell how their time is spent and what takes which virtual assistant the least amount of time, so you can then re-organize tasks according to highest levels of productivity.
You can measure these on your own, or to save extra time, assign the measurement of these metrics to your virtual assistants by having them log status updates within your project management system.
Use a project management system.
Billie Gardner, founder of Desire to Done, is a virtual assistant herself. In a blog post geared towards client organization tips for managing virtual assistants, she shared that it's most helpful for virtual assistants to have a very clear project management system such as Asana or Trello. Log each step of a given process, especially in the beginning -- for example, if the process is "send ten follow-up emails," break each part of that task into micro steps: personalizing the email template, scheduling the email, and marking completion.
This way, everyone is on the same page about daily, weekly, and monthly expectations, and progress can be checked more simply rather than constant email and messaging check-in's. When there isn't ambiguity in the daily tasks process, it's far easier to do hands-off management.
The best part about these five tips is that they're easy to manage at scale, too. Whether you have one or 100 virtual assistants, continue to fine-tune ways to manage them with clear communication, engaged teamwork efforts, and productivity technology.