How To Give Good Instructions to your Virtual Assistant

In a modern, technology-centric world, the rate at which work can multiply and pile up is incredibly fast. Once that happens, having a virtual assistant is your best bet at getting things done. Virtual assistants can be a great help when it comes to organizing and completing tasks efficiently and quickly—all they need are instructions and they will be good to go.

How To Give Good Instructions to Virtual Assistant

However, giving instructions to a virtual assistant may not be as easy as it seems. Instructions that aren’t specific may lead to miscommunication, which will surely lead to incomplete tasks, or worse, botched assignments. Here are some guidelines to giving correct instructions to ensure task completion:

– After writing the instructions for a task down, review and read them out loud to yourself. Listen—does it sound correct? Double-check, and review again, before sending the instructions (or the list of) to your virtual assistant.

– Be direct—do not beat around the bush. Additional commentary may confuse the virtual assistant.

– Make a list of your priorities, starting with your most important task, to the least important task. Weigh your priorities.

– Make sure there are verbs in your instructions. (For example: “Write an article…”) Doing so will emphasize what the virtual assistant has to do.

– Use a positive tone when you write instructions, like using “Do this” and “Pass that”. Using a negative tone will make your list seem like you are talking down to your virtual assistant.

– Include hyperlinks in your list. Doing so will help your virtual assistant save more time and more effort, compared to having to search for a site or product image themselves.

– Remember to be consistent. When you make a list that enumerates tasks in a “1-2-3” sequence, do not switch patterns by using “A-B-C” in your next list. When you have your pattern, either in enumerating tasks or sending messages, stick to it.

– Ask your virtual assistant if he or she has received your instructions. Wait for their confirmation, and ask them if they have any questions, or if they have anything they want to clarify. Asking questions about a task is a good sign that means the virtual assistant wants to help you complete it correctly and as efficient as possible.

– Give the virtual assistant a deadline. Be specific—if you need the task finished at a certain time and date, tell him or her about it. Virtual assistants may be there to help you finish those assignments, but they are not mind readers.

Lastly, here is a final tip: when your virtual assistant completes a task well, commend him or her with a job well done! Any kind of work, be it menial or not, requires effort— make your virtual assistant feel that theirs is highly appreciated. Just as mistakes require constructive criticism, a good job requires positive acknowledgement.

Now that you know the right way of relaying instructions to your virtual assistants, it is important to remember that they are there to help. Help them in order for them to help you—once you have that part worked out, working with a virtual assistant will be a breeze

10 Qualities to Look for in a Virtual Assistant

Being a virtual assistant is not only about getting tasks done but essentially it means being able to have an unwavering commitment to a client’s business. Sure, being well versed in computer programs or software is necessary but more than this, a VA’s work ethics are equally important. Why? Let’s admit it, your VA will a hundred thousand miles away and the only means for connection is the internet. This fact alters the stakes a bit; it makes values a vital part of an assistant’s job application.

So,as business owners, what are the specific characteristics you need to look for in a virtual assistant? Check out the list below as we enumerate the the qualifications you’ll need:

Virtual Assistant

1. Reliability
This involves precision and consistency with regards to the tasks being handed to the assistant. Since the employee is physically absent, he should be someone who can be left alone or work with minimum supervision but can still generate desired results. He or she can prove to be reliable by simply being able to show up online promptly and meet deadlines.

 2. Accountability
Any employee who is ready to own mistakes and fix them is definitely an asset to your company. It is unfortunate that mistakes occur but what’s imperative is an employee’s ability to admit fault, face consequences and take necessary corrective actions. An assistant admitting his or her lapses is the first step to solving the problem. Furthermore, being able to face consequences ensures that future mistakes will be avoided. And of course, a personal assistant who admits an error can better detect the cause of the problem and consequently solve it at a much faster rate.

3. Punctuality
Being prompt tells a lot  about your virtual assistant more than how he finishes his tasks. It tells you how organized and how in control he is. The simple fact that he is able to get online on the time that both of you agreed on, means he can be counted on. Most importantly, it tells you how much that individual values your company.

 4. Confidence
As a business owner, you are aware that attitude is as important as aptitude. With that in mind, you would want an online assistant who has self-confidence. This relates not only on how confident he is about his skills but also about how he presents himself to you and your customers. An employee exuding confidence will certainly help your company present a positive image to your clients.

5. Optimistic
If optimism and confidence were towns, they would be in the same city. Both of these traits go hand in hand and are keys to becoming successful. An online assistant with a positive attitude can help you achieve company goals. They are adaptable to change, complain less and are solution-oriented. A bonus feature is that they also act as potential motivators for their less-optimistic peers.

 6. Diligence
A virtual assistant is known to be diligent if he or she is not being negligent with regards to his tasks, careful when acting out his responsibilities, and persistent about getting the job done. This person is the type of worker that propels himself to work on his own without the need to being told what to do. He or she usually takes the initiative to accomplish what needs to be done.

 7. Open-Mindedness
A employee who is open minded is not disapproving of other people’s ideas; which makes them approachable and easier to team up with. One who is open to new ideas and is susceptible to change has a higher chance to succeed in the workplace. This is so because he is able to see alternative solutions to a certain problem rather than being blindly fixated with his ideas and beliefs. This also entails that he  adapts to any situation, possesses a cooperative attitude, and easily adjusts to company changes.

 8. Modesty
While it is normal for an assistant to be informative about his accomplishments, it is definitely a plus factor if he does this moderately and in a humble manner. A good employee knows the true estimate of his achievements, how it affects his ego as a professional and has the decency to act accordingly in the workplace. Bragging, be it in a normal setting or in the workplace, is most certainly irritable and unnecessary.

 9. Trustworthiness
Since the virtual assistant is far away and is physically absent, a higher degree of trustworthiness is to be expected from him than those working in house. Trust is proven to be a valuable currency in the professional field and is even more so in personal relationships. He is the type that is driven to live up to your expectated tasks and work behavior. He is honest about his mistakes, knows how to keep his promises and exhibits loyalty to you and your company.

10. Creativity
Creativity paves the way for innovative ideas which contributes to the competitive advantage of your firm. It has contributed to various original ideas that the company can use or that acts as solutions to a pressing situation. It is now a trend for companies to encourage creativity because it helps to maximize the skills and opinions of the employees that can have a positive impact to the company. Thus, it is imperative to look for a virtual assistant who exhibits creativity even before the hiring process.

In-House Staffing VS Virtual Assistant Services

Businesses have grown accustomed to hiring personnel to report to their physical offices and conduct tasks. Staffing In-house has certainly proven to be effective over the years, most especially during a company’s “beginner phase”. However, as a business grows, managing in-house personnel becomes more difficult. Acquiring additional staff might not be as much of a good investment because owners end up paying for skills which might not really be necessary. To discuss further, the following bullet points will compare in house staffing versus virtual or online staffing:


Remote Staffing Expenses

In House Staff – The company will most likely incur higher costs because hiring in-house personnel comes with many operational expenses such as office space, pc cubicle setups and other aspects relevant to his job. The firm will also be liable to the individuals employment costs like vacation/sick leaves, taxes and other benefits. Additionally, business owners are expected to pay for the whole duration the staff member stayed in the office – without taking into consideration whether he was productive or idle the whole time.

Virtual Assistant – Offshore outsourcing services ensures that the company will  get more value for money. Despite the fact that virtual assistance is cheaper than in-house staffing, there is no longer a need to take care of operational costs since online assistants usually cover the other expenses and facilities. What’s more, companies will only be paying per hour or per task completed depending on what the outsourcing and the virtual staff initially agreed upon.

Time Issues

Remote Staffing Time

In House Staff – Having in-house workers will probably cause the management some major and minor issues regarding working schedule. For one, the management and the employees will  be in the same time zone meaning that the business will be stagnant during off-hours. In times when employees are off duty, the company will usually not be able to tap their availability in times of urgency. This situation is not very ideal for a business with an e-commerce site that is up 24/7, unless you opt to hiring an employee to work on day shift and the other at a later time.

Virtual Assistant – Relying on an offshore outsourcing company will help to deal with these time and schedule related concerns. Virtual professionals will be able to work during off-hours and get tasks done in time with the manager’s waking hour. To put it simply, no time is wasted. This could also spell success for the business since managers will be spending more time making the business grow instead of handling staff in the workplace.

These disadvantages prove that resorting to virtual assistant services might be a better option. It allows the company to save up on funds and time which they can spend on other lucrative pursuits. Growth in business means that different techniques should be tested and conventional strategies challenged. So why not give offshore outsourcing a shot? You can check our post, “10 Qualities to Look for in a Virtual Assistant” to give you a few tips on how to find a perfect virtual match.

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