This technique can be applied to an in-house team of VA's or to a working relationship with a client - we've used it in Virtual Miss Friday for both on different occasions and it's gone really smoothly, every time.
Well, this is it folks, my last post before I take a bit of a breather to have my baby. She's due on the 18th of July but being a big girl (predicted to be around 5 kilos) they say it could happen any time now. I'll keep you posted on Facebook as to when she appears and see you back here on the blog in early August :-)
In the meantime, I'd like to leave you with some advice I gave to one of my members via a coaching call, who wanted to expand her team with new VA's but was finding the process of handing over and showing them the ropes a bit time consuming - if this is you now or in the future, then I have an excellent process for you that's both easy and fast!
Preparation Is VitalFor speeding up handovers - make sure you have an intranet (like a website instructions manual, Google sites is great for this) that's really well stocked and detailed with step-by-step videos and/or written instructions that can be easily followed by someone who has never done the task before, so investing in one really detailed "fool proof" instruction will pay back several times over in the long term, rather than a half-hearted one.
Even the most highly skilled virtual assistants can't read minds and shouldn't make assumptions, so you have to be clear on how you want things done, especially if you're very particular.
The Handing Over ProcessOnce your intranet is prepared you'll be ready to start your new virtual assistant by doing a handover so they know what they need to do on a schedule task-wise, and where to find the instructions on how to do it.
#1 - The Task List CalendarA great way to do this is to start a Google Calendar and add on to it daily, weekly, monthly and adhoc tasks (this works best for me with client work, and I have a task list in my project management space for in-house VA's), so when they get started they can look at the day on the calendar and see what needs to be done. The key here is to add a link on each entry to the direct corresponding instruction inside the intranet so the VA can simply open the calendar, look at the entries and click the link to go directly to how to do them inside the intranet.
#2 - The Handover DocumentThe idea is that the new VA sets to work on starting the schedule of tasks on the calendar, and processes as much as they can for that day.
Then explain to them that anything they can't do or aren't sure of, or have a question on, they must document each day at the end of the day on (for example) a Google doc that has a date in the title, with as much info as possible - links, questions, hurdles etc... and send that over to you at the end of the day.
This restricts your time and theirs to having one place each day where they ask questions, otherwise you could be caught up on Skype conversations, random questions and comments, and answering those throughout the day can really put a crimp on your productivity, so we want to avoid that where possible.
Once the doc is ready each day, they can notify you and the ball is in your court.
#3 - You RespondYou'll then (either last thing before you leave your computer or first thing in the morning) go over the Handover Document before they start the next day's work and this is where you'll address their questions, add new intranet instructions where applicable, or update them and provide any further information to allow the Virtual Assistant to go through and complete the outstanding items from the day before.
Once you've provided them with everything they need, you'll notify them that it's ready for processing, and they'll process those first, then start on the next day's schedule.
Eventually those daily handover docs will fade away into less and less questions until the handover is complete.
Time-Sensitive ResponsesObviously it's a good idea to have criteria in place about what's considered critical/urgent and what's not - if there's something required that is urgent, it's best you give them the option to contact you, but this should be restricted only to things that must be attended to immediately.
If your VA needs to ask about something that involves getting back to a client, but it's not critical, make sure you have a procedure in place to ensure they contact the client to inform them that they're asking a colleague and will respond ASAP. Create a pre-defined email reply like the one below:
Thanks so much for your question, I'm happy to help you with this!
I just need to double check with a colleague and I'll get back to you as soon as possible, in the meantime if there's anything else I can help with, please don't hesitate to ask."
The Benefits Of This MethodThat way for every team member currently partaking in a handover process, you'll only have to go in and do one set of checks each day. This is a big time saver and it allows for your intranet to be continuously updated with accurate information while keeping everything neatly together for a clean handover.
Also ask them to note any tasks they've done for the first time on the handover doc so you can do a check just to make sure your instructions were sufficient enough for them to carry out the task fully.
That's it! I'll be doing a bit of handing over myself now in preparation for my new arrival - I hope you find this helpful and it makes taking in a new VA a little less daunting :-)