How To Maximize The Productivity Of Your Virtual Assistant
The Virtual Assistant has become a by-word in business development. More entrepreneurs have grown aware of their contributions to the profitability of an enterprise. But as the industry has grown, so have the standards and demands needed to ensure consistent performance.
Here are seven ways to maximize the productivity of your Virtual Assistant:
- Collaborate closely
Virtual assistants have the experience, required skill set and competencies that they require minimal training. However, the application of their knowledge and experience will vary from industry to industry, business to business.
For example, you hired a Virtual Assistant to perform social media marketing for your business of selling dental equipment. If your Virtual Assistant has 10 years experience of managing social media but had never handled a dental equipment enterprise, it will take time for him to develop a steady approach for your campaign.
He will present a draft of the campaign but as the proprietor of the enterprise, you would be in the best position to advice which strategies may work best for your market. Collaborate closely with your Virtual Assistant so that collectively you can build a working arrangement best suited to meet your business interests.
- Moderate expectations
Yes, virtual assistants are guaranteed to improve your bottom-line. Simply by factoring in their contributions to cost savings, your business will be in a better financial position by hiring virtual assistants.
But profitability is not merely a function of cost. The second variable in the profitability equation is revenue. In order to generate revenues, you must improve productivity. Virtual assistants can contribute to your revenue generation activities but you must moderate your expectations.
If you hired a Virtual Assistant to book appointments, it will take time for her to get the feel of your market. She will have to get immersed in the culture of your prospective clientele and pick up nuances to capitalize on. This is what you call The Learning Curve and everyone regardless of experience goes through it.
- Keep the system simple
When working with virtual assistants you have to make sure you have a system in place that ensures efficient collaboration. In the virtual world you need programs that allow collaboration, communication and file sharing.
Purchasing for the most expensive programs with all the bells and whistles will not guarantee you productivity. The best programs are those that are simple but adaptable regardless of the demand. There are a number of free, downloadable programs you can use to keep your business running smoothly.
A sample system would be:
- Project management – Asana
- File sharing – Dropbox
- Communication – Skype or Google Hangout
Most virtual assistants are familiar with these programs and probably have extensive experience working with them. These are all tried and tested programs that won’t break your budget and manage your business needs accordingly.
- Measure performance
The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is to let the Virtual Assistant to work without basis for performance. All personnel should be measured for their contribution to business productivity. This is an important metric to determine if your Virtual Assistant is worth the investment.
The best way to do this would be to establish metrics and to apply these to your Virtual Assistant. For example, you hired a Virtual Assistant to conduct business transcription work. You can establish a metric composed of:
- 40% Statistics- Number of words transcribed per hour
- 50% Accuracy- Number of correctly transcribed words per hour
- 10% Ethics- Number of hours lost due to tardiness and absences
By measuring performance, you will have a great reference point to validate maintaining the Virtual Assistant or replacing with a better candidate
- Encourage productivity
The only difference between a Virtual Assistant and a Regular Employee is their venue of work. But other than that, they are people who need to be encouraged periodically.
The challenge is greater when working with a Virtual Assistant because the entrepreneur also has to deal with cultural, social differences and learn to adapt with a contracted “employee” who essentially is an entrepreneur himself. It is certainly difficult, but not impossible. And in reality, it does not require much work; just a change in mindset.
If your Virtual Assistant makes a mistake, accept it as part of the job. Everyone makes mistakes, even Mr. Entrepreneur. Instead of finding fault, determine right away the origin of the mistake and address it immediately. Again the operative word is “collaborate”. Work with your Virtual Assistant and create solutions. A proactive relationship results in more victories than losses.
- Get your virtual assistant involved
Keep in mind that virtual assistants are experienced and have a different skill set than yours. They view business from a different filter but are entrepreneurs just like you.
Instead of restricting them to a specified scope of work, get them involved in the overall process. As the business owner, you may sign her paycheck but you do not have a monopoly on sound business ideas! When you meet with your Virtual Assistant, open up the floor and the channels of communication. Give them their moment on the virtual floor and allow them to share their opinions. In any business relationship one of the most powerful tools to achieve success is feedback.
By integrating the Virtual Assistant into your process, you are maximizing their contribution to the venture. It also gives her a stronger sense of self-worth and confidence which will firm up her commitment to ensure your business success.
- Institute process improvement
Business constantly evolves. This is especially true now that we are in a truly global economy. Even the best and most iconic entrepreneurs in the world are constantly searching for ways to improve their business.
It is not enough to track performance with metrics. Without any sense of purpose, the numbers these metrics produce will be meaningless. Entrepreneurs should institute process improvement systems as a way of keeping up with the continued evolution of the business environment.
The purpose of the process improvement system is self-explanatory; it is intended to improve the system by analyzing the numbers and implementing the necessary adjustments. There may be other factors which are affecting the performance of your Virtual Assistant. Sometimes numbers do not tell the entire story. This exercise should be conducted with your Virtual Assistant regularly; ideally on a weekly basis.
By having these measures in place, you can be assured of a long-term, productive and successful working relationship with your Virtual Assistant.