Delegating to a Virtual Assistant Team

If you’re in a leadership role, the concept of delegation won’t be new to you .. it’s an essential skill to have. What might be a little more challenging is delegating to a team that works for you remotely, like when you contract with a virtual assistant. Some businesses have whole teams working remotely, over several different time zones. Managing how people work on projects together can be challenging but well worth the effort. Here are some simple tips that can help you to effectively delegate to your remote virtual administrative team.

Use the Right Communication Tools

There are lots of different options when it comes to communication tools, so it’s important to know when it’s best to use a particular one. For instance, should you send someone an instant message or email them instead? Maybe you should call them on Hangouts or Skype for a face to face discussion.

  • Difficult or out of the ordinary concepts can sometimes be discussed more effectively verbally.
  • Highly detailed or step by step concepts tend to be easier when they’re read, so email might be better.
  • For those short on time, communicating normal daily tasks can be much faster on instant messaging.

When it comes to delegating to a virtual administrative professional, a lack of communication can be a big issue, and cause many mistakes. It’s important to communicate openly in projects so that everyone involved is aware of where they stand and what’s expected of them. Everyone needs to be on the same page.

With so many communication options available, there will always be people that have a preference of one over the other. This means that you will need to help your team find a compromise, or a way for everyone to use a tool as close to their preference as possible.

Have Very Clear Process Documentation

Giving someone a task without a proper process in place can lead to huge time delays, mistakes and scope creep. Anyone coming onto the team needs to understand the process behind what they’re being asked to do, or they might spend time doing something that’s unimportant to the current milestone. Personally, I also find it very helpful to know the ‘why’ behind the process. This is when I inevitably ask, “Why do we do this process this way?” I ask this for two reasons: a) I want to make sure you, the client, know the process; and b) I want to be able to (hopefully) improve upon the process to make it smoother and/or faster. If you don’t understand what the process is yourself, it will be hard to guide someone else through it, so make sure that you know what’s happening as well.

It’s important that you manage expectations, and that your virtual assistant team knows what you expect from them. When you delegate a task, make sure the assistant being assigned the task has the proper skill set to do it, as well as an understanding of when the task needs to be completed. If you need to train them on a task, make sure they have clear training materials. This is a great opportunity to record video with screen shots on how to perform a process and upload it to YouTube with private access.

Many people don’t want to appear uneducated or out of the loop, so they will quietly wait until someone brings up a task and then either admit they don’t know what they’re doing, or continue to stall. Make sure that everyone reviews their tasks as they’re assigned them and that they let you know immediately if they will need further training. Most VAs aren’t like that, however, there are tons of introverts and new-to-the-industry VAs out there.

Clearly Document Everything

Busy people say a lot of things on the fly, and they make a lot of split second decisions based on the information provided to them at the time. It’s important to note that context is extremely important, and being able to backtrack and find conversations for reference can clear up a lot of confusion.

It’s important to have everyone documenting their steps, obstacles, and their questions. Any answers that they receive ultimately lead to the finished product, so having logged conversations can be an easy way for a project manager or leader to spot where misunderstandings have happened.

Using a project management tool, such as Asana, can be helpful, as you can upload email chains, documents, files, and capture next steps and concerns in one central area. Using a spreadsheet can be just as effective if done correctly, but whatever you use needs to be able to be accessed by the whole team.

Break Down Projects & Processes As Much As Possible

Sometimes there are a lot of steps within a process that aren’t heavily reliant on having the same person do them. If there’s only one person on your team that knows how to complete a particular task, you will want to make sure that other people are picking up the less person-specific tasks.

Cross-training your team is not only essential, but purely a wise business practice. It will help to reduce the stress and bottleneck of only having certain people able to complete certain tasks. Adding flexibility to your virtual assistant team means that if someone gets held up on a particular task, you can quickly reassign their other tasks to people will smaller workloads. Sharing these tasks across a whole team will get things done faster.

Having a remote team means that you have to trust your team to get through the work that you assign them. We, as virtual administrative professionals, are .. professionals. We do not need to be micromanaged, as that actually ends up costing the client more money. Unlike an on-site team, you can’t just walk over to their desk and micromanage them. You have to trust that your team is working on their tasks when they should be, and that they will get their work done on time. If you don’t have that kind of trust in your team, then you should really be considering whether or not you have the right people working with you.

About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:

logo1aSince 2006, Out of the Office has offered ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, content writing and offering creative solutions for your business success.

Image credit: geralt | CC0 Public Domain