How to Manage an Assistant

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While the hiring of a virtual personal assistant can free up your day, the burden is on you to allocate tasks smartly and effectively so that this happens.

Generally speaking, the more specific you are in explaining tasks, the better. Remember, they may not be well versed in your industry yet, so avoid technical terms and jargon, and explain things as if you were talking to a family member at home. Try to show as much as possible what you do, rather than just talking things through.

Ideally, as a result of good management, a virtual assistant will in time learn your work style and you will be able to give that person more responsibility and encourage them to take the initiative more.

Think about pulling together an outline of the tasks required, outlining the Who, What, Where, When and How of daily tasks, including relevant rules, permissions and passwords.

On that subject, make sure your assistant has all the tools needed, and access to everything they need in the easiest format. Don’t be afraid to give access to shared folders on Dropbox or Google Docs, and share access to social media channels and web domains.

It will be up to you to decide whether to trust your assistant with information such as passwords and other sensitive materials. Start out with small things, such as granting access to social-media accounts. You may want to consider having an assistant sign a nondisclosure agreement if you want extra reassurance.

If you require your assistant to communicate on your behalf, try and pull together a language style guide so that they have clear guidelines on your spelling (English or American), number/date reference systems used, awareness of any acronyms, words to use or avoid, and approved sources from which to draw information and quote.

Encourage your assistant to offer you feedback, which can give a lot more warmth to the remote-work arrangement. Some assistants might not provide feedback unless you ask, yet their ideas are often spot-on given their proximity to your work.

When possible meet your virtual assistant at least once in person and try to have a video conference or meeting at least quarterly. It is always much easier to do business with another human being than just a name on an email.

Ultimately, a virtual assistant is not just another cog in your business machine, but an employee and a human being, so remember to treat this person as such and give them the time, respect and trust they deserve.