You have taken the decision to hire a Virtual Assistant, but how do you go about successfully onboarding your VA?
Engaging with a Virtual Assistant can be one of the most rewarding investments you make for your business. But just as you are investing money in paying for the service, you must also invest time into building a great working partnership with your VA. Any time spent at the beginning of your relationship will be paid back many times over by the increased productivity and the trust and confidence you have in your VA to just get stuff done.
First things first
When you have decided to engage a VA, the next step is to find the right person for you. If you’re still wondering if its right for your business then check out my blog on outsourcing. Before you start your search, make sure you have a firm idea of what tasks you would like the your VA to do and identify the skillset they need to have. A great way to find a VA is to pull on the connections in your network, you might get a personal recommendation for just the right person.
Take time to talk to your prospective VA. You can learn a lot about somebody by spending some time having a virtual coffee with them. Here you’re checking that the VA is credible, can demonstrate their ability to do the tasks you are looking for and that your personalities ‘click’. You want to move forward with confidence that the working relationship can work.
Once you are satisfied you have the right person and all the paperwork is in order, then you’re ready to get down to work. Take time in building the relationship and onboarding your VA, and you will soon have another valuable member of your team.
Step 1: Start out slowly
To start with, set your VA off with one task at a time. Identify a job that you find difficult but is ideally suited for your VA to complete. That way you will see the benefit of hiring your VA almost immediately! Once the first job is done, and you are both satisfied, then you can set the pace to build up to the full list of tasks you identified to outsource. Make sure you are both secure that each task and its deliverables are understood before adding more on to the to-do list.
Step 2: Share your values
Spend time with your VA to make sure they understand what your business does, who you work with, and who your clients and suppliers are. Introduce them to you your team. Share your values, goals, hopes and dreams. Make sure your VA understands your mission and ethos, and buys into them. You will reap the rewards from this by establishing a great working relationship and your VA will feel like a valued part of your team.
Step 3: Sort out the technology
Decide on the practicalities of how you are going to work together. List the applications and packages you want your VA to use. Set up logins and passwords. It helps enormously if you create an email address from your company for your VA and use this email for them to log-in to your systems. That way if you ever stop working with your VA you can cancel the access and you know your data is secure.
Use Lastpass for sharing login details; this can also be used to share secure documents such as credit card details, driving license, etc. in the Lastpass vault. Microsoft Teams, Dropbox, Google Drive and One Drive are all great for sharing files. Trello, Asana and other project management tools can help you set and keep track of tasks and workflow in an instant.
Getting the technology sorted at the start means there won’t be any lost productivity in the future when your VA is waiting for access to your systems to be granted.
Step 4: Train your VA
I don’t mean send them on a course on how to use Microsoft Office, I would expect you to select a VA with those kinds of skills already mastered. What I mean is, train your VA on you and your business. How do you do things? What processes do you already have in place? Where are things filed? Set clear expectations, deadlines and deliverables.
For this step it really helps if you have your processes documented. If you don’t, then maybe that is a task you can ask your VA to do so that it would be easier to onboard anyone else in future.
Step 5: Communicate, communicate, communicate
No matter what the setting, relationships work best when there are clear lines of communication. This is especially true when you are at the start of your relationship – the other person cannot read your mind, and doesn’t know you well enough to even begin to guess what you are wanting (not that I advocate guessing what may be in anyones head!).
Make sure you and your VA agree how and when you will be in touch with each other. Have you been clear on your priorities? Have you laid out your expectations clearly? Do they understand what to do if they are confused about the task? Will you plan a regular catch-up? What about if things go wrong?
I suggest you put time in your diary for a weekly 30 minute videocall, at least at the start of your working relationship. Use the time to check how things are going, and ask your VA the following three questions:
- What did you get done?
- What problems are you having?
- How can I help?
Work together to overcome any obstacles. It would be a very unusual situation if you didn’t come across any stumbling blocks, its how you deal with any difficulties that matters. Tell your VA of any gaps in their work in a constructive way. I find people respond better to honest, open discussion.
A sneaky Step 6: Be thankful
If your VA is doing an awesome job, tell them! Tell them in person, leave them a testimonial on their website, add a recommendation on LinkedIn. We all love to be appreciated, and hearing you shouting about their awesomeness from the rooftops will always be appreciated.
Remember, outsourcing work to a VA will probably take you out of you comfort zone – especially if you like to keep firm control of all aspects of your business. Investing time in onboarding your VA will be time well spent. Your new VA will be keen to please and will want to help make the process as smooth as possible. Work together and you can achieve great things!
In my next blog I will be looking at what applications and tools you can use to make working with your VA easier. If you want to be notified when my next blog is published or If you found this article useful and you would like to keep in touch with my future tips & tricks, resources and ideas then sign up here to receive my newsletter.