How to delegate work effectively to a virtual assistant
Learning how to delegate work effectively can be challenging, but the rewards of enhanced productivity and cost savings can be significant. Delegating also allows your business to focus on core objectives instead of non value added repetitive tasks. The biggest challenge however is understanding how and when to delegate tasks. First of all you have to decide when a task has reached the point where it’s worth delegating. Then you need to teach your virtual assistant how to perform the task satisfactorily.
Once you have learned how to successfully delegate tasks, your options to get the best out of your virtual assistant increase exponentially — giving you the added flexibility of utilising skills that no one in your business possesses.
This post will help you delegate your way to success by giving you some very useful tips for working with a virtual assistant.
Getting started with a virtual assistant
Before we explain how and when to delegate, we’ll quickly look at how to integrate new virtual assistants into your business. This checklist will help to ensure that your virtual assistant is ready to be a productive member of the team.
# Have a task schedule ready to go
Planning ahead is an important part of learning how to successfully delegate. You should either have a process in place for scheduling tasks with your virtual assistant or they will be able to supply you with various options for doing this.
# Make them feel welcome
When you hire a virtual assistant, treat them as you would a regular member of staff. Introduce them to your other employees and give them some general information about your business and its culture. It is important to make help easily available in the early parts of the relationship — they should know it is ok to approach you with questions.
# Have a plan for sharing work documents
Set up a DropBox or Google Drive folder to share instructions and work documents with your virtual assistant. You might also like to use an online collaboration tool like Trello, PivotalTracker or Harvest. If you already use a customer relationship manager like SugarCRM, you may wish to give them access to certain parts of it.
# Have tutorials already prepared
Tutorials can be very useful for quickly getting a new virtual assistant up to speed on a project. Consider using tutorial videos for this purpose. Make them with Camtasia, Screenflow, or Tinytake. Alternatively, create documents explaining any technical tasks that your virtual assistant will be performing.
# Evaluate their success regularly
It is particularly important to assess the success of a new VA team regularly in the early stages. Agree to have your virtual assistant send you a timesheet periodically. This will help you understand where their efforts are focused and how effective they are.
Discovering What to Delegate
An important part of learning how to successfully delegate is identifying which of your tasks can be handed off to other people.
Firstly, spend a week to a month recording the types of tasks you are commonly performing. It might include things like replying to emails, helping customers with problems, sending tweets, updating your business website and so on.
Then sit down and review what you did. You might be surprised by how much time these repetitive non value added tasks are taking from your day! Now, highlight the tasks that can and must only be performed performed by you. Everything else on the list can be delegated.
You can delegate your way to success by outsourcing the repetitive and time consuming tasks that your business performs. Go through the list and give each item 2 ranks out of 10 — one for the task’s simplicity and one for its duration/repetitiveness. If the task is simple, rank it highly (10/10) and if it time consuming, rank it highly (10/10).
Now, look for the items that have a high number for both simplicity and duration. They are the tasks that outsource very easily and will save your business a significant amount of time each day!
Some of the tasks which can usually be delegated very easily include:
- Time management tasks
Scheduling meetings and appointments, managing your work diary, managing your personal to do list.
- Business administration support
Managing emails, answering the phone, entering data, secretarial services, dealing with suppliers.
- Business finance support
Expense management, book keeping, invoicing clients, filling in tax returns, credit control.
- Marketing support
Performing market research, creating content, following up leads, email marketing, social media marketing, website management, organising webinars and search engine optimisation.
- Sales support
Lead generation, telemarketing, lead qualification, appointment setting, proposal generation, and sales pipeline management.
- Event and travel planning
Business travel planning, event planning and event research.
Preparing your virtual assistants for advanced tasks
If you wish to delegate technically advanced tasks to your virtual assistant, you may need to provide them with some training. You should also be prepared to devote some time to your virtual assistant in the first couple of weeks, when they are learning the task.
This training can be delivered via an online video, a written resource or by talking with the virtual assistant via phone or skype. Once the task has commenced, be available so the virtual assistant can clarify any points they are unsure about.
To identify where the virtual assistant may need assistance, break each task into its core components. If any of those components require the use of a particular piece of software or skill that the virtual assistant does not already have — they may require some training in that area. Create a video or document that teaches the virtual assistant how to perform that section of the task.
Also, consider the processes that you use to maintain a high level of efficiency. Share those processes with the virtual assistant so they can be as productive as you are when performing them.
Additional tips for delegating effectively
You are almost ready to delegate your way to success! However, before you begin here are a few more useful tips.
Have very clear tasks and goals
It is important that you be crystal clear when describing the task to the virtual assistant. They must understand:
- What you want them to do and what the overall goal is
- When the task needs to be completed or how much time they should spend on the task each day
- What processes should they use to complete the task
- What results you expect in the short term and long term
By communicating the task and related goals very clearly, they will understand precisely what needs to be done — leading to better outcomes for all parties.
Have very clear work standards for the virtual assistant to follow
If you have certain standards or guidelines for how work should be presented, make sure they are clear to the virtual assistant. Use a shared document for them to record these standards and update them when they change.
Only use virtual assistants that you can trust
Only use a virtual assistant agency where all workers have been vetted. This allows you to gain access to a talented virtual assistant team that is also a safe pair of hands.
Be clear with deadlines
If your project has a very tight timeline, make sure your virtual assistant understands this early on. By using project management or online collaboration tools, your VA will constantly be aware of how much time is left on the project.
Don’t constantly look over their shoulder
The whole point of delegating is to help you save time! Avoid micro-managing the work efforts of your virtual assistant. If your instructions and objectives are clear, they will be fine. Instead of micro-managing, concentrate on activities which only you can perform.
Use the creative skills of your virtual assistant
Don’t forget that your virtual assistant is a highly experienced and skilled worker. They might have some fantastic ideas on how to improve processes and enhance the productivity of your business. Ask them for their feedback and you will be surprised at the useful information you receive!
Regularly give feedback to your virtual assistant
Give your virtual assistant constructive feedback on a frequent basis in the early days of the relationship. That helps them to adjust their workflow and make improvements. They won’t need feedback as often once the working relationship has been established, but constructive feedback is always helpful.
We hope you found our tips on how to delegate work effectively to a virtual assistant helpful. If you would like to learn more about what, how and when to delegate, contact us on 0800 994 9016 or click here to request a free consultation.