When I first looked into employing our first virtual assistant around four years ago, I was hesitant. I knew that from a business perspective it was the right decision, but I knew there would be challenges, particularly around how much investment of my time was going to be required. Not just with finding the right virtual assistants to fit the culture of our business, how we like to work and how my team here in Australia would respond, but how we were going to train them, manage their workload and integrate them into our business.

I can honestly say that the integration of virtual assistants into our team has been one of the best decisions we have made. Financially it is obviously a very cost effective option, but it has forced myself and my team to delegate and let go of tasks so that they have more time to focus on areas where they can add the most value.

As we have been working with our virtual assistants for several years and have built a relationship with each of them, I have noticed that there are times when we forget some of the basics when it comes to effectively train our virtual assistants, so I thought I would share with you my top 10 tips to remember:

  1. English isn’t their first language, so take the time to explain all acronyms and what it is you are wanting them to complete step by step
  2. Typically virtual assistants prefer you to give them direction around what task you would like completed, rather than asking them to work it out or be creative (you need to hire specialist freelancers for this)
  3. Always provide virtual assistants with a deadline for when the task needs to be completed
  4. Keep your instructions short and to the point. Give examples of what you would like and what you don’t
  5. Don’t use language they are not going to understand. Take note of words like fortnightly as these types of words are not readily used in countries like the Philippines and initially they may be reluctant to ask what it means
  6. Don’t overwhelm with too many tasks or information. Break tasks down and ask them to complete one section before you train them in the next
  7. Be realistic around how long things will take. In my experience, initially I would allow at least double the time of what someone within your local team currently takes to complete the task as they are also learning new systems, technology and a different way of working. We often forget how long it takes to learn these things when they are not sitting next to us
  8. Communicate and give timely feedback. If they haven’t completed a task as you have requested, tell them or show them how you would like it done, or provide examples
  9. Use technology and create videos. They may take a little longer to create the first time, but your virtual assistants will have the video to reference at a later date, or when they are training new virtual assistants, or as we have found they have become very useful for training new staff and associates!
  10. Remember they are people too, and you are wanting them to become part of your team. If you treat them well, they will work hard and do the right thing by you

Most of these tips are all relatively straight forward and they look like common sense. But just as we have found, you can’t get complacent and just assume everyone is on the same page. Our countries and cultures are very different and we need to continue to communicate and put processes in place so that everything runs like clockwork. Done well, you will create more time to work on the things where you add the most value, in the same way your virtual assistants will!

Next week my blog will include some tips on how you can improve the engagement of your virtual assistants, so stay tuned…