Hiring a virtual assistant (VA) can be a great way to free up more of your time for other key business tasks — but communication will be vital. What’s one piece of advice you have for ensuring great communication between you and your virtual assistant?
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.
1. Never Assume
A key point to keep in mind when communicating with a virtual assistant is to never assume anything, especially if you’ve only recently started working with them. They aren’t familiar with your business, style, expectations, etc. Be sure to spell out every detail and encourage them to ask questions. Make sure they are clear about everything. What is obvious to you may not be to them.
2. Leverage Video Tools
I’ve found that video communication is powerful for getting a virtual assistant aligned with your goals. Platforms like Loom allow you to record your screen and yourself to give clear instructions. I recommend mixing video and written communication for different tasks so your virtual assistant can easily understand your expectations.
3. Ensure You Have Clarity First
The most important thing is to be clear about what the task is. If you don’t have a clear understanding of what the task is, then your assistant cannot help you with it.
4. Create a Reference Document
Create a framework or document that acts as a reference to help your virtual assistant when they are trying to recall certain preferences that you have. Think of common situations that may arise and how you would like them to be addressed so that your assistant can easily execute and unlock new time for you. Make the document living and open to feedback so it can constantly be improved.
5. Set Clear Expectations and Guidelines
You’ll have a better chance of ensuring great communication between you and your virtual assistant if you set clear guidelines. In other words, hiring someone with a bare-bones understanding of their role is not a good idea. You should have clear expectations and a list of tasks you expect your assistant to complete.
6. Know Their Schedule
Knowing the time in which your VA is active for work helps ensure effective communication. The time zone in which they’re active may be different from yours, especially if you work in a remote setting or have flexible work timings. Knowing this helps you schedule your meetings, calls and messages accordingly, ensuring a swift response.
7. Use a Task Management Solution
You should have a task management solution like ClickUp where all your tasks are organized and tracked. When you’re meeting to discuss tasks, create the task in ClickUp right then and there, and assign it to your VA. This way, nothing is lost in verbal communication — which it most certainly is regularly. When the task is done, you can close it out.
8. Treat Them Like an In-Office Employee
Forget the fact that they are a virtual assistant and treat them like you would if they were sitting right outside your office. Choose video calls over emails or Slack messages, especially in the beginning. When you treat a virtual assistant as an outsourcing tool, that’s exactly what they’ll be. Instead, what you want is someone who’s a part of your business and thinking along with it.
9. Provide Written Instructions
Don’t rely on verbal communication alone to communicate with your virtual assistant. Make sure you also provide clear written instructions for tasks that need to be completed. This will help ensure that there is no confusion and that your virtual assistant knows exactly what you expect. I recommend using Google Docs or a similar tool to create and share task lists and instructions.
10. Review Tasks Daily
The one piece of advice I would offer for those employing a virtual assistant is to set a brief time each morning and evening to go over the day’s tasks by phone or virtually. The day’s schedule should be set in the morning, and a review of completed tasks with some talk of the next day’s plans should happen before quitting time.