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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How to train virtual assistants

Virtual Assistants are a God send to many, but most of us have to go through scores of people before we identify that one person that we can work with. The reason for this is that most of us do not understand how to work with virtual assistants and that there is a certain amount of training involved before they can start working to our expectations. VA's are not a software plugin that will start functioning as soon as you hire them. They need just as much hand holding as any normal hire would and I recently found a really good article on the subject in Chris Ducker's blog. I condensed it into bullet points for my reference and thought that I'll share it with you too.

How to train a VA.

1. Define a role – Tasks are different from Role and you need to hire for the role. Make sure that you understand EXACTLY what you need out of your VA before you start looking for one. Below we give you a few questions that will help you identify your VA.

What are the core responsibilities of the role that the VA will fill?

What skills or traits does he or she need to properly fill the role.

How will you measure success within this role?

2. Setting expectations – Expectations need to be set right at the very beginning and just as you will have expectations out of your VA, he/she too will have some of you. Below we give you a few things that you need to consider for this.

When will you pay – weekly, biweekly, monthly or at the completion of a project?

How much will you pay?

How will you track progress?

What is the response time that you expect for communication with your VA?

What will you do if the work is sub-standard?

3. Train, don't assume.
Make sure that you give your VA all the training that he/she will need in order to fulfill the role. Don't
rely on their common sense or ability to connect the dots to perform. All instructions should be clear, concise, detailed and easily understood.
Don't assume that they will ask for help if they don't understand anything – one of the biggest grouches with VA's.

4. Give written instructions.

Use plenty of bullet points.

Have one objective per email.

Use screenshots and links to give examples of what you need done.

5. Use audio recordings.

Be concise. Avoid rambling.

Create separate recordings for separate subjects, instructions, tasks etc.

Label each recording precisely.

6. Use video recordings.
This is the best way to train VA's because the combination of visual and audio instructions leaves very little room for confusion.

You can train at your own time without worrying about scheduling conflicts.

Each video will add to the overall training material which can be used to train future VA's.

Search on YouTube before you create your own video. You may find what you are looking for there.

7. Identify repetitive tasks.

Create a simple process flowchart that details what the VA needs to do.

8. Create an IFTTT cheat sheet (IF That happens, Then This)

Have a set of standard protocols to be followed for the most common situations that may arise.

9. Have clearly defined goals and needs.

The VA should save you time and money by taking some work out of your hands, not increase it by forcing you to micromanage them.

Once you invest in a little time to train your VA, then many of the problems that you will face as an employer will be minimized if not eliminated. 

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