How to Manage and Train Your Virtual Assistants

Just hired your first virtual assistant? Or maybe you have a virtual assistant that you’re struggling to get to do the tasks that you want to get done. Whatever the case may be, you’re going to want to read this article until the end, because I’m about to go over seven tips for how to manage and train your virtual assistants to be more effective and get a higher ROI from your VA team.

By the end of this article, you’re going to better understand how to train your virtual assistants to do any new task, build a library of playbooks in terms of SOP for new VA’s to be onboarded with and also some general understandings of how to build stronger virtual assistant relationships for longterm retention.

Through the systems that I’ve built, virtual assistants saved me at least 50 hours every single week that’ll give me some peace of mind to work on my business, as opposed to in my business. Needless to say, I’ve written my fair share of instruction sets for virtual assistants, and I know what are good ones versus bad ones and how to train virtual assistants for success.

Tip 1: Always teach the how and the why. Record everything with a screen recorder.

The first tip when managing your virtual assistants is to always teach the why and the how. Get used to recording everything with a screen recorder. The bottom line is that if you don’t help show somebody how to do something the way you like it to be done, then you shouldn’t expect them to do it for you the way that you like. It is always important for you to also explain very clearly, why is this important to your overall business or whatever process you’re having them help you out with.

Good leaders help their followers understand their why and their place in the overall picture of things. And your virtual assistants are no different. So make sure that you make it super clear as to why the particular task is important to you, as well as your overall process.

In terms of recording softwares, I like to use loom.com. It’s a free recording software that allows you to have up to 25 videos in their free plan. I believe of unlimited length and if you pay, it’s only about $5 or so per user. Feel free to use the link in the description if you want to check that out.

Another alternative to loom is Screencastify. Those guys have a five minute limit in their free accounts. Lastly, if you’re on a Mac, you can actually use QuickTime player to do a screen recording for free. The only downside to this is that it’s not going to be as easy and quick in terms of starting a recording and having it instantly uploaded into the cloud so that you can share it for your virtual assistant.

What you could do if you’re looking for some free storage though, is you could record your videos and then upload it onto YouTube as an unlisted video. That way your virtual assistants could access it there and also have that nice feature of playing it back in up to two times  speed.

When you were recording, you want to make sure that you do the action that you’re asking your virtual assistant to help you out with at least three times, this will help them familiarize themselves with the different variations of the tasks that you’re asking them to do and make sure that you’re covering the majority of cases so that you can limit the number of back and forth questions that you guys have to go through before they’re up and running.

The easiest way that I can explain the importance of this active recording is I want you to imagine that you owned a store and that store had three core jobs which were bagging, ringing people up in the cashier and then stocking the shelves. If that were the case, then you would have to have one person for each of those tasks, if you wanted everything to be running smoothly. So you’d have to record videos as to what the best practices are for stocking the shelves, what the best practices are for ringing people up really quickly and what the best practices are for bagging quickly.

I highly recommend doing this for every single task that you give your virtual assistant so that they at least have a visual and auditory method of learning the tasks that you are trying to teach them.

Tip 2: Convert everything to a text-based form of instructions.

Now let’s jump into tip number two. The second tip for success with your virtual assistant is to convert everything that you recorded into text-based instruction. So using that store analogy, I want you to outline what would those 10 steps be for bagging efficiently or ringing somebody up at the cash register or stocking the shelves?

Think of it like you are assembling some IKEA furniture and you want the steps to be replicable and scalable in terms of a ton of people being able to put together that same exact shelf. A way to save yourself some time, even more is that you can use rev.com or otter.ai free plans to upload your videos and get them auto transcribe.

From my experience, I’ve found that these transcriptions are 85 to 90% accurate. And so from that, I’m able to just spend my time doing some formatting and small tweaks before I pass it off to my virtual assistant. The reason why this task is super important is because it addresses the virtual assistants that may not necessarily be visual learners.

Tip 3: Build up to your true task. Start with mini-actions for practice, and then scale up.

Some people like to just have the list of steps that they need to complete in front of them so that they can do this every single time that they’re doing the task. Start with mini actions for practice, and then scale up to the true task.

A good example of this is I had to schedule out 300 Pinterest posts and I had to prep the post in terms of creating them in Canva and then get them queued up in Tailwind, so in order to do that, what I did was I asked my virtual assistant to do five first, get feedback, and then from there I gave her 10. Then after she was done with 10, I gave her more feedback. And then once she built up her confidence to be really good at planning the post in Canva, as well as scheduling it, entailing him with the appropriate meta descriptions and whatnot, I gave her all of the remaining 285 or so posts. So by building up her confidence, I essentially prepared her for the true task.

There are two benefits when it comes to building up to this true task with miniature actions. The first one is that it allows your virtual assistant to get immediate feedback. It lets them not only try your instructions out, but also figure out whether or not you potentially left something off the instructions that could be helpful for their success. It lowers the risk that they mess something up like the task of doing 300 posts in the very first go.

The second thing that’s really important is that it keeps an open line of communication. This is super important when it comes to building a real relationship, a real working relationship with your virtual assistant. If you can give more effective instructions each time, then it saves both of you guys some time and also makes it so that both of you can accomplish more together.

Tip 4: Always cover the time and date when you’d like something done.

The fourth tip when it comes to managing your VA’s for success is to always give a time and date for when you would like the tasks that you are giving them to be returned to you. If you’ve ever had a really bad boss, you know that one of the biggest reasons why they’re a bad boss is because they’re bad at giving you timelines. They’re bad at helping you prioritize your work. And so this is where it’s really important for you as you give your virtual assistants more work, to be super clear on the time and date that you want that work done.

Be specific all the way down to the time zone, because it’s more than likely that if you took my advice of hiring somebody from the Philippines, you’re going to be working out of a different time zone than that. So making sure that you’re super clear on this will save both of you guys, some headaches.

Taking that example of scheduling 300 Pinterest posts in Tailwind. The first task I gave 24 hours for my VA to try out the first five. From there, I gave her immediate feedback within 24 hours of how she did with those first five. And then I had her do the next 10 and the next. 12 hours. From there, I gave her feedback again and then gave her the task of the remainder of the post, the 285 or so remaining and I gave her until the end of the week.

So in other words, I built up my deadlines as I was building her confidence in the task. This sense of momentum as your virtual assistants are working through tasks for you will allow them to feel like they are (a) doing a good job and (b) meeting your expectations.

When it comes to asking for return work, I like to ask my virtual assistants for 9:00 AM my time. And the reason why is because it gives enough time for me to start my day so that when I’m ready to look at their work, I’m ready to pick it up right where they left off and have little lag time so that when I’m in off hours, they’re actually working and keeping my projects growing.

Tip 5: Treat your VAs with respect. Check in with them on a regular basis – show you care.

 The fifth tip when it comes to managing and training, your virtual assistants effectively is to make sure that you treat your virtual assistants with respect. Make sure that you show them that you care and that you are constantly checking in with them. Virtual assistants are people too. And the bottom line is they have feelings and they want to do good work for you as long as you position them in a way to do that. Good work for you. And so as such, you’ll want to make sure that you are regularly checking in with your virtual assistant. Loyalty pays in a measurable waysin fact, I have a team member that’s been with me for five plus years and the way that he started out with just for a couple hours every single week, but over time, I had more and more responsibilities to give him. And he actually had a ton of other clients on outbreak that he was giving way more time to.

But when I offered him the full time position to be our virtual assistant, he took it in a heartbeat. The reason why he said was because we gave him consistent work, had engaging and interesting work for him to do, and also were just really nice and easy to work with. So by setting clear expectations in place with your virtual assistants, you can hire some of the best virtual assistants in the marketplace.

There are a ton of ways that you can show a virtual assistant that you care. You can give unexpected bonuses for really good work. You can suggest that they take a day off after they’ve worked overtime for you one week, or you can even just send a cordial holiday message when there are major holidays that come up. Whatever it is, just by taking the extra step in terms of showing that you actually are thinking of them and caring about them can go a long way in the long term retention of your virtual assistant team.

Tell me the comments and idea you might have to help show your virtual assistants that you care, or tell me something you’ve already done in the past that was received super positively.

Tip 6: Make it easy for them to write a daily recap.

The sixth tip when it comes to training and managing your virtual assistants really effectively is to make sure that you make it easy for them to log their daily progress.

This can be as simple as creating a three column spreadsheet that has date, hours worked and a summary of the work. People sometimes mistrust not being able to necessarily see what their VA is doing all the time. And so what this spreadsheet does is it keeps a log of accountability for the virtual assistant to help you understand how they’re pacing.

For my virtual assistants, it might look something like June 2nd, two hours worked, 10 articles queued in WordPress and SEO research completed for five new articles. This allows you to keep a running log of how your virtual assistants are pacing. And also for you to have an understanding of how your workflows are working out with them.

A ton of freelance management sites also have screen trackers for time logs, such as Upwork. In my opinion, I find this to be a nuisance because I would personally hate it if my boss was watching my screen every 15 minutes. And so instead, what I like to do is I hire two or three VA’s onto a team, and then I have them do similar tasks.

And from there I can see which VA’s are better for different tasks and then specialize them in what they’re good at. By giving my virtual assistants the breathing room to try a bunch of different things out and see what they’re good at, I’m able to position them to be most effective for my particular projects while also allowing them to do the work that they do best.

Tip 7: Maintain your SOPs every quarter or after every major sprint.

The seventh tip when it comes to managing and training your virtual assistants, is to maintain your SOP every quarter or after every major sprint. What you’re going to want to do is you’re going to want to take a step back and look at how effective your instructions are after some time has gone on. And the reason why is because SOP has changed over time, things improve over time. Fully in your business. And so you want to make sure that everything is up to date. The easiest way to do this is to build a master document that details every single task that has ever been given to a virtual assistant.

Then from there just insert a table of contents so that it matches the major headers of tasks so that you are your new virtual assistance, if you ever have to bring somebody onto the team can quickly go to the instructions that are relevant to that. The SOP master document is so, so important for your business to run effectively.

It effectively removes you from all of these processes that you’re outlining for your virtual assistant. The reason why people love McDonald’s is because they know that when they go get a big Mac, they’re going to get a consistent quality, big Mac when they order that big Mac. And so the same thing goes with your SOP.

If your SOP is super straightforward and down to the T in terms of accuracy, then you know that you will consistently get the same level of output, regardless of which virtual assistant you task onto that particular task.

At least four times a year, at the end of every quarter, I asked my virtual assistants to leave comments and feedback for this master SOP document. This makes it so that I can take in their feedback and also improve our processes together. So that they are as helpful as possible in terms of a set of instructions for not only my current VA’s, but also my future. VA’s. This is how you evolve and grow your virtual assistant team over time. By having clear processes outlined, it becomes way easier to onboard new VA.

Big takeaways

There are two things that I want you to remember from this article.

  1. The first one is that whether or not your virtual assistants are successful nine times out of 10 it’s on you. Not them.
  2. The second thing to remember is be easy to work with, fair, but stern with your expectations. People like to work for leaders that are clear in their communication and also empathetic and knowledgeable in what they’re doing. And so it’s no different when it comes to managing your virtual assistants, and that you want to make sure that expectations are clear and that accountability is clearly in place at all steps, regardless of what the task is, you’re giving your virtual assistant. Always ask yourself, am I setting up my virtual assistants up for success and how could I set them up for success even more?

If you liked this article, be sure to check out my YouTube channel to get new videos every single week. I’ll help take you from zero to self-starter as you grow your business, get more customers, and hone your business acumen. Also, feel free to share this with anybody that you think might benefit from learning how to manage and train their virtual assistants.

That’s it for this time though. In my next article, I’ll go over seven reasons as to why you need to hire a virtual assistant to grow your business.

Get new videos

2X/week sent to your inbox!