Delegation! A sensitive topic for even the most seasoned of professionals. While some can’t let go off the control, others struggle to find talented people to effectively delegate to, and still others think they simply don’t have the capacity to pay for tasks that they’ve already grown accustomed to – never mind if they are unproductive and low value in nature.

While hiring a virtual assistant (VA) is your answer to the question ‘whom to delegate to’, the next logical question would be ‘how to delegate effectively to ensure you get your money’s worth’. Here we attempt to answer that with 10 must-know tips to consider when it comes to the art of delegation and hiring a virtual assistant.

#1 Ensure absolute clarity: Remember the rule of thumb – your virtual secretary is not a mind reader. Therefore, it is imperative that you plan ahead, give clear instructions, and have a task schedule ready when you take them on. Clarity on the tasks you want to outsource also helps you select the right VA – for example, one with sound administrative experience, good writing skills, or someone experienced in research work.

#2 Communicate end goals right at the start: When describing a task to your VA, be sure to convey all of these:

  • What is the overall goal of the task and the desired end-result?
  • What is the process to be followed?
  • What is the expected turnaround time?

#3 Know what time and assistance you can afford: Generally speaking, your VA will be paying for him/herself as using virtual assistant services is bound to increase your productivity and time and cost savings manifold. However, decide before hand if you need hourly/weekly/monthly assistance and negotiate payment accordingly.

#4 Sharing work related documents: Have a plan ready for sharing relevant documents with your VA – be it through Dropbox, Google Drive, or other project management and collaboration tools such as Trello, Pivotal Tracker, Harvest, etc. Sharing volumes of work on email is simply not that productive and eats vital time.

#5 Leverage tutorials: Getting your VA acquainted with tasks is a lot easier when you show them what you need through tutorials and demo videos. Use these for technical tasks, operational services, and report making, and other administrative jobs.

#6 Skill check: Speak to your VA at length about what skills he/she has and their educational background. Chances are while you may be using your VA for writing/editing services, he/she may be a technical person who could also take up some technology-oriented tasks if need be, saving you the hassle of finding another VA for every task domain.

#7 Establish a communication schedule: Decide beforehand on how often you need to touch base with your VA and how – whether it’s a daily Skype call or email or through messenger. Communicate your availability to answer queries from your VA and also be respectful towards his/her time.

#8 The trust factor: You will be sharing your personal/company information with a VA, hence selecting a trustworthy virtual assistant service is critical to ensure safety. Do a thorough background check, consider reviews/recommendations from previous employers, and don’t shy away from getting your VA to sign a confidentiality agreement if need be.

#9 Have your VAs manage work among themselves: If you hire a virtual assistance agency, you will most probably have a team of VAs – so use that to your advantage and get them to speed up on task delivery, take up urgent tasks, etc. 

#10 Review and feedback: Frequently review your VA’s performance and provide constructive feedback, especially when the working relationship is new.

Now that you are armed with tips to effectively delegate work to a virtual assistant, it’s time to focus on the tasks that really matter in your personal and professional life.

See what these successful people have to say about working with virtual assistants.