Setting clear expectations for your newly appointed Virtual Assistant is of vital importance and should be seen as part of the upfront onboarding process. Establishing your expectations from the get-go will not only support your VA in quickly getting up to speed on the key performance essentials of their new position, it will pave the way for their being efficient and productive down the line and will support their positive engagement with the team.

First make your expectations clear for yourself

It is impossible to build a set of clear expectations with your VA if you haven’t first determined what you need and defined these expectations for yourself.  Here is a simple, five-pronged approach when thinking through your expectations:

  1. What is my objective or end goal?
  2. What steps are there to completing the job?
  3. What is the required timing – and is this realistic?
  4. What does my measure of “good” look like?
  5. Are there any examples I can refer to?

How to set goals and expectations with your VA

Once you are clear you can set expectations for tasks and goals with your VA. Here are 3 helpful hints when establishing what you require:

  • Provide context: Explain why certain expectations are in place. When your VA understands the rationale behind your expectations, they are more likely to engage wholeheartedly with the task at hand.
  • Be specific: Being specific, ideally using clear written communication, helps to avoid misunderstandings by plainly outlining the desired outcome of a task as well as the series of steps needed to complete it. Your expectations become particularly specific when they are connected to metrics such as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The metrics used must be clearly defined and measurable.
  • Be realistic: It is important for you to understand the time it takes to do each task to set realistic expectations when considering resources and your VA’s capabilities. Overburdening your Virtual Assistant can lead to mistakes, time wasted, demoralisation, a drop in productivity and burnout.

Setting an effective task list

Creating a structured task list provides a blow-by-blow road map to effectively getting things done. This entails listing all the tasks that your VA is responsible to complete.

  • Some tasks on the list will be routine and repetitive.
  • Other tasks will be once-off initiatives.
  • Larger jobs and projects will require first breaking down the task into “sub tasks” or the elements that make up the whole. In this case, a series of deadlines for each sub task can be set toward completing the overall task.

It is important to work together with your VA to prioritise the tasks on their to-do list according to the importance and urgency ascribed to them. Once tasks or projects are underway you can monitor and adjust the task list as necessary.

The importance of regular feedback and reviews

Frequently checking in with your team and providing feedback is an ongoing aspect of practical expectation setting. This will allow your VA to course correct in a timely manner without having to re-do large chunks of work. And it will give you a chance to regularly acknowledge work well done. Regular reviews provide an opportunity for you to hold your VA accountable for their results as measured against your set expectations. Reviews also provide you with a platform for recognition – to help your VA to understand the difference they make to the business.

Tools for delegating and tracking project progress

Project management tools are specially designed to assist an individual or team in organising and managing their projects and tasks effectively. They are the modern-day conduit to efficient project management and task delegation when using the services of a remote Virtual Assistant. A sound project management system will also contain a task tracker that will keep reminding your VA what they must do and by when. It should also have a reporting system. Reports allow you to consistently monitor and communicate a task or project’s scope, timing, budget and progress at any time to anyone who needs to know.

Setting expectations upfront allows your team to be clear on what you expect from them – and what they can expect from you. It serves to reduce speculation and misunderstandings while focusing your team as it clarifies why, how and when you want work to be done. By establishing clear goals and deliverables on the day your Virtual Assistant steps into their role, you will lay the foundation for a happy and productive relationship that has a positive knock-on effect on the growth and success of your business.