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Working With An Assistant – Where Do I Start?

What can I delegate? Won’t this take more of my time? How can we stay on the same page? Can I even trust them to help me with my business? 

Some of these questions have undoubtedly crossed your mind as you think about the complexities of hiring a virtual assistant. And yes, virtual work requires adjustments in the tools we use. However, the basic principles, and even many of the systems, of working with an assistant apply across the board. So, don’t get hung up on the “virtual” piece.

With that in mind, we thought we’d share 7 quick tips for getting started with a (virtual) assistant:

  1. Delegate Responsibility: If there was only one single tip, this would be it. Don’t hire an assistant simply to free up your time – she brings more to the table than that. Hire an assistant to gain back mental margin. That is necessary for you to spend more energy doing what you do best. And the only way to gain mental margin is to delegate responsibility, not just tasks. Yes, this takes some investment on the front end, but it will pay for itself five times over.
  2. Define Your Communication Style: Pick your poison – phone, email, text, twitter – spend some time thinking about how you communicate best. Ask your assistant to help you establish some guidelines for each communication medium. i.e. – a weekly phone call, using text only when a quick answer is helpful, etc. After you define your style, establish regular rhythms to stay in touch.
  3. Get Personal: Spend some time getting to know your assistant as a person, not just your assistant. If you are working with a virtual assistant but also have an on-site team, group texts are a good way for the assistant to stay in touch with the daily life of the team. A fancier tool you might helpful is Slack (a completely searchable group communication tool) (link: https://slack.com/r/042ff40x-042htysj)
  4. Start the Introductions: Take 5 minutes and make a list of the people in your world that your assistant will need to communicate with on a daily or weekly basis. Then, send them all a quick email introducing your new assistant. This will give her credibility in their eyes and prevent them from being confused when they hear from her.
  5. Don’t Just Speak for Yourself: If there is anyone who has worked with you in a similar role in the past, connect your new assistant with them. That person can download nuances you probably aren’t even aware of – how you work best, preferences related to work, quirks in your personality, etc.
  6. Empower Her to Say No: Being the bad guy isn’t fun for anyone. But, that’s part of your assistant’s job. Give her permission to say no on your behalf, to product your time and schedule. This can protect your relationships when you don’t have to be the bearer of bad news. We can also all be our own worst enemies when it comes to our schedules, so let her stop you from that.
  7. Define Expectations: This goes both ways – you need to define yours but also give your assistant permission to define hers. Make a habit of asking “what are the expectations?” anytime a new responsibility is delegated. This is particularly important in relation to schedule – communicate “off” times and establish an “emergency” protocol.

Have you found any of this principles to be true? What tips would you add to the list?



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