Are you thinking about hiring your first virtual assistant, or have you just hired one and you’re struggling to figure out how to integrate them into your business?
You’re not alone.
Many business owners do the hard work of filtering through applicants and finding The One, only to realise that they don’t know what to do next.
Making sure that you successfully on-board your new virtual assistant is crucial if you want to build a lasting and successful partnership.
Here are 6 steps you should take to on-board your new virtual assistant:
1) Create a task list
Before hiring your virtual assistant you should have spent some time deciding exactly what you wanted to delegate. And you should have prepared a clear job spec to guide you through the hiring process.
Zip Recruiter has an excellent example job description for a Virtual Assistant, which you can use as a framework for your own.
Using these as your guide, produce a task list for your new virtual assistant detailing everything that’s to become their responsibility.
2) Provide initial (and on-going) training
Although you’ll want to get them up and running as quickly as possible, providing training is an important part of on-boarding your virtual assistant.
Rory Vaden suggests investing 30 minutes of your time into every 1 minute it takes to complete a task. (This includes the time you’ll need to spend documenting and recording your processes).
While it might sound like a huge time commitment, if you provide the right material and support upfront, you should be able to let your VA run with things. Which means you can forget about the tasks you’ve delegated instead of micro-managing.
As Rory says in his blog:
"Because while it is true that someone else likely won’t be able to do it as well as you the first time, or even the second or third time, when you think longer term, it changes. You realise that over the course of time, and especially with the proper training, that other person will be able to master the task – just like you did."
Make sure you keep your training material up to date, and notify your virtual assistant if there are any process of policy changes that they should be aware of.
3) Set your expectations and outline key policies
Another important aspect of on-boarding your virtual assistant is laying out your expectations and any company policies which will affect them. For example:
- Do you intend to give your VA freedom to set up their own processes, or would you prefer them to follow your workflows?
- Will you give your virtual assistant the autonomy to make decisions (including those with a monetary impact, like offering customer refunds)?
- How much notice would you like about planned days off?
- What communication methods do you prefer?
- How often and when do you plan to check in with your virtual assistant?
- What are your company’s customer service policies?
You should discuss these with your virtual assistant during the on-boarding process so that both of your expectations are aligned. This helps to prevent any nasty surprises as you establish your working relationship.
4) Share your mission and core values
Part of successfully on-boarding your virtual assistant, is making them feel like they’re working in partnership with you to achieve a common goal. It’s easy to hand over a to do list and expect your VA to ‘just get on with it’.
However it’s far better to give your VA a clear understanding of how their work (or non-completion of their work) will impact your customers and your business.
Circle Up Founder, Ryan Caldbeck explains that,
“When team members believe in the vision of a company, they are much more likely to tie their individual values to that shared vision.
This allows them to have a greater sense of ownership and contribution and motivates them to offer new ideas and new ways to help”.
At the start of my career I worked in client management at a global investment bank. Not long after joining I was hauled into a meeting room and told that I’d cancelled a client order, which had cost the bank several thousand pounds.
What became clear was that my boss had failed to explain to me how my role fit in with the rest of the business. I had no idea of the impact a simple fat finger could have on the client and the bottom line. So I didn’t flag my mistake before it escalated into a bigger problem.
Helping your virtual assistant see how they fit in to your wider goals, will make them feel like a valued team member and also prevent little mistakes growing into big problems for your business.
5) Incorporate your VA into your IT systems
If you don’t already use some form of project management software, now would be a good time to start investigating. Tools like BaseCamp, Asana or Slack can help you to collaborate effectively with your virtual assistant and help you keep on top of their progress through your projects and task lists.
If you don't already use some form of project management software, now would be a good time to start investigating
It’s also a good idea to get comfortable with document and file sharing software like Google Docs, Google Drive or Drop Box. Make sure you give your virtual assistant access to the right folders and documents so that everyone in your team has access to the most up to date copies.
6) Provide and request regular feedback
For you and your new virtual assistant, there’s going to be a steep learning curve, especially during the on-boarding period. Get comfortable with providing your virtual assistant with constructive feedback so that they know when they’ve done a great job, or where they could make improvements.
You should also be ok with asking your VA to provide you with feedback. Are you giving clear enough instructions? Is the frequency of communication working out? Are you checking in too often, or too little?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help to make sure you build a low friction working relationship.
Give people feedback about their actions in a timely manner without fear of reprisal, and it gives them a healthy opportunity to work toward better behaviours.
Hiring a new virtual assistant is an exciting step for your business. Get it right and you’ll be free to focus on the areas of your business that you love. Get it wrong and you could end up with a stressful relationship that doesn’t last. On-boarding your virtual assistant is a key part of building a successful partnership. It’s important to take the time to do it right, so that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
By following these 7 steps to hire the right virtual assistant, you’ll give yourself the best chance of finding the perfect support for your business.
How prepared do you feel to build a successful partnership with your virtual assistant? Let me know in the comments.