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The Ultimate Guide To Delegation For You And Your Virtual Assistant

Barnaby

Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

8 minute read

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As a small business owner, you know that success or failure comes down to hard work and smart decisions. If you need to boost productivity and take control of time management, hiring a virtual assistant (VA) is one of the best decisions you can make.

However, while many people see the potential of a VA, they lack the delegation skills to make a meaningful impact on their bottom line.

This article can change all of that by giving you the delegation tips, information, and best practices you need to make your business more efficient while freeing up your time and reducing stress.

Know what you do best

A huge part of impactful delegation is understanding which tasks you should give your virtual assistant. That process starts with a thorough evaluation of the duties you perform day-to-day. In particular, you should know which tasks you do best in terms of both bringing value to your business and making an impact on revenues.

Of course, these aren’t the only duties that you might want to set aside for yourself. Everyone has particular work tasks that they really enjoy. In an ideal world, you can keep some of these jobs for yourself because they can help bring you energy and happiness during your day. Remember, it’s not only employee engagement that you should worry about; you also need to keep yourself engaged.

In short, keep the tasks that you:

  • Excel at
  • Are passionate about
  • Bring unique value to (in terms of revenue, expertise, and so on).

Everything else, you should offload to a virtual assistant so you can bring more time and energy to take your business to the next level.

See: Why Focusing On Your Unique Ability Is Crucial For Business Success

Focus on recurring, regular tasks

Delegation is all about boosting time management and productivity. While it’s perfectly reasonable to offload ad-hoc jobs, delegating recurring and regular tasks is an efficient way to make the most of a virtual assistant.

There are a couple of good reasons for this.

  1. Delegating recurring tasks minimizes training or explanation time.
  2. If your virtual assistant performs regular tasks, they will become more efficient through practice.
  3. Regular tasks can be scheduled and delivered consistently without the need for intervention.

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Provide clear instructions

We all know the feeling of being given tasks with unclear or ambiguous instructions. You end up just staring at them, trying to decipher their meaning. Sometimes, you can figure it out, while other times, you need to get into a back-and-forth over email to get to the bottom of what you're expected to do. When you finally have clarity, you’ve lost a lot of time.

It’s essential to remember these situations when you assign tasks to your virtual team. Providing clear instructions helps virtual workers do what you need them to do within a reasonable timeline.

Here are some tips to clearly communicate your expectations every time.

  • Make sure that you understand the task so that you can explain it effectively.
  • Pull together any documents, templates, and logins that are required for the task.
  • Establish clear and measurable goals for the task.

From there, when you are communicating with your virtual assistant, follow these tips:

  • Use clear, concise language to describe what needs to be done.
  • Break the task down into manageable chunks.
  • If the task involves several different steps, make sure your VA understands which deliverables are a priority.
  • Where possible, provide examples of the outcome you want.

See: How To Document Tasks And Processes For Your Virtual Assistant

Provide support and guidance

Providing clear instructions is vital, but even the most detailed handover document might not cover every scenario.

Patience and openness to communication are critical during the early days of a partnership with your virtual assistant. Being available to answer their questions and provide support when necessary should be among your top priorities when you begin working together.

Just like any new starter to a role, it might take a little time for them to get used to your work. But as we all know, thankfully this phase doesn't last long.

  • Consider investing in training and onboarding for your assistants and help them understand your workflows and processes.
  • Schedule regular check-ins so you can answer questions, provide feedback, and discuss the progress of your tasks.

Avoiding micromanagement

As business owners, we're used to being in charge of everything. When we've built our businesses from the ground up, it's only natural to find it tough to let go of tasks we're used to doing.

The reality is, only you can do things exactly the way you do. It might be tempting to keep checking in, asking for updates, and making changes, but consider the bigger picture. You brought on a virtual assistant to save you time and help your business grow. Investing any time in tasks that aren't the best use of your energy will only hinder your progress toward your goals.

Not only that, but micromanagement can erode trust and cause morale and job satisfaction to fall sharply.

  • Focus on outcomes rather than processes.
  • Trust that your virtual assistant has the ability to do a great job.
  • Set clear boundaries for your assistant, including which scenarios they can use their judgment and which situations where they should escalate problems to you.
  • Take advantage of communication platforms, shared documents, and project management software to achieve better collaboration.

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Remember your ‘why’

The most successful delegators are those who keep the big picture in mind. In other words, remembering why you want to hire a virtual assistant in the first place.

While the specifics change from person to person, most entrepreneurs or small business owners hire VAs for a number of different reasons, including:

Reduced stress: It’s easy to lose yourself when you run a business. With so much to do and so many responsibilities, your work-life balance can easily fall out of balance, and the pressures and stresses pile up.

Offloading tasks can help you avoid burnout and mental health issues that result from work, which affect over 90% of entrepreneurs.

More time and energy to grow your business: Delegation helps you outsource a wide range of tasks. It allows entrepreneurs to become conscious of time management and rotate time savings into value-driven and ROI-focused duties.

This process can have a tremendous impact on your business because you’ll have the time and energy to pursue growth strategies and better outreach. Successful entrepreneurs recognize that they have limited time and energy and that using them wisely makes a huge difference.

A more balanced home life: In the frantic and pressure-filled world of entrepreneurship, it’s all too easy to forget what truly matters.

Hiring virtual assistants means that business owners have more time to spend with their families. Whether it's attending school events, sharing meals together, or simply having some quality downtime, having the support of virtual assistants empowers business owners to strike a better balance between work and personal life.

Virtual assistants v full-time employees: Another thing that you need to remember is why you’re hiring a virtual employee over a full-time worker. There are many considerable advantages here, including:

  • Hiring a VA doesn’t involve the time and resource commitment of hiring full-time employees, which includes posting job ads, scheduling interviews, waiting for notice periods to expire, and so on.
  • A virtual assistant gives you the flexibility to add capacity as and when you need it. Rather than having fixed costs that you need to pay even during downtimes, hiring a VA means you can take a much more dynamic approach to support, only paying for the work that you need.
  • Finally, using a virtual assistant service gives you access to a broader base of skills. Instead of hiring a full-time generalist, you can pick and choose between specialists with different experiences and skill sets. These specialists make your business more responsive to the market and add extra dimensions to your services.

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What's the bottom line?

Hiring a virtual assistant offers endless business benefits, such as access to specialized skills, round-the-clock support, and the flexibility to scale quickly and efficiently by adding resources just in time.

However, the productivity and time management benefits go further and include freeing up your time to focus on strategic growth initiatives like business development, deeper client relationships, and new marketing strategies.

Unlocking the advantages of virtual assistants comes down to one vital skill—delegation. Knowing which tasks you should delegate and how you should offload them is crucial. What’s more, awareness of how to provide support and guidance is key to fostering a successful working relationship.

If you want to take back control of your time and get more done each day, speak to our expert team to get started with a virtual assistant. We’ll set you up with a dedicated professional based on the skills and experience you need.

Or try us out for free today!

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About the author

Barnaby
Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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