A growing trend in today’s business culture is that of the virtual assistant.
For many entrepreneurs, there are many benefits to having a virtual assistant that are not necessarily that different from having an “in person assistant.” These include the ability to assign administrative tasks so you can focus on business growth, as well as having a bonus resource to help ensure you are organized, on schedule, and staying on track to meeting your goals.
Additionally, virtual assistants are usually freelancers – at least at the outset – which helps to minimize the financial investment necessary.
So great… we’ve reviewed the reasons why an assistant would be helpful (not that we really needed convincing) and why a virtual assistant would be… let’s just say it—usually cheaper.
Now, let’s fast forward through job posting boards and the interview process and you suddenly find yourself with a virtual assistant.
What now? How do you onboard your virtual assistant and set this new relationship up for success instead of failure?
First and foremost, you have to be a willing participant.
You are going to have to exhale and take a small leap of faith and let someone else assist with some of the duties and tasks you usually keep to yourself. Start off small, if necessary, and wait until you know your new assistant better before entrusting them with the big stuff.
Baby steps are ok if that’s what works for you. What is not ok is leaning over someone’s (virtual) shoulder all the time. You know how you can hardly drive if your mother is in the car with you because you know she’s looking at and criticizing your every move? Lesson #1 – don’t be your mother in anyone’s car.
Second in line? A managed and thought out on-boarding process.
The best manager I ever had sat me down on my first day and showed me a list of about seven different processes. “This is all you are doing for 60 days, if anyone asks you to do anything else, have them come talk to me. For the first 60 days, we are going to make you an expert on these processes and these processes alone.”
She also had a manual of step by step procedures for each process. She set me up for success, and it was awesome. It was also awesome for her because at the end of 60 days, I was pretty fluent at the different processes that were the priorities for my role.
Instead of trying not to drown in a new job, I was actually able to contribute in a valuable way to the team. Instead of doing everything poorly, I did seven tasks really well. And that’s not so bad for two months on the job. So the second lesson – set your assistant up for success with clear instructions and clear expectations regarding tasks and deliverables.
Next up is communication, and this is a sticky one…
Your assistant isn’t handing you a coffee and a donut every morning, because your assistant is virtual (that means they are probably drinking their own cup of coffee in their own living room because it’s not 1985 anymore, folks, it’s not even 2005).
However, the challenge of such convenience, is achieving the same sort of connection that happens so easily when you see someone in person every day. To get around this, make it a point to spend five minutes on the phone every morning, or if in the same area, meet for lunch once a month. You know… put in a little extra effort.
Not only will this effort open up the lines of communication for a more efficient working relationship, but it might also help you like each other.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had someone helping you, who didn’t just sign off when they clocked off, but actually gave a you-know-what (a hoot and a holler) about you and your business? I think it would definitely be great! Lean in to the relationship a little and invest some time and energy into the other human being. Solid lines of communication are definitely worth the effort.
If you are already spending the required energy to interview and hire a virtual assistant, then spend a little more energy to help make it a successful endeavor for both parties.
Does an assistant need to be sitting at a desk outside of your office? No, but they do need the information and communication necessary to get their job done. Take the time to equip them with these tools and enjoy the results!