Delegating tasks to your remote assistant: what, when and how

Posted by Archie on 27/09/17 10:00

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Delegation is nothing short of an art form. Every executive has a unique style, technique and process. Every method can be learnt, practiced and honed. Every executive must master the craft in order to succeed.

However, knowing what, when and how to delegate can be a challenge, especially when hiring a remote assistant for the first time. As such, FYXER has devised a 10-step process that every executive should follow to ensure they delegate effectively.

Step 1: categorise your common tasks.

  • Prior to meeting your Fyxer for the first time, clients should spend a fortnight recording the tasks which they commonly perform. No task left unturned, this list should include the mundane, such as updating your contacts database, to the critical, such as prospective client meetings, and everything in between.
  • An executive should then rate each task in terms of simplicity and time consumption and categorise them into three groups: vital (e.g. business management tasks); important, but simple (e.g. responding to emails and invoicing); and non-critical (e.g. updating contacts and data backup).
  • This will help determine which tasks only you can do, which tasks need to be handed down over time and which tasks can be delegated from the outset.

Step 2: set up operating procedures.

  • As a first port of call, your dedicated Fyxer will meet with you in person to establish a professional relationship and discuss how you like to work.
  • Together, you should then establish basic operating procedures that fit with your needs and schedules.
  • This would include, for example, the favoured means of communication (email, phone, instant messenger) and devising regular catch-ups (e.g. Monday morning briefing).
  • You should then look to establish a shared management system (we recommend using services like Trello or Asana) to enable you to update one another about tasks.

Step 3: get that in-tray off your desk.

  • For those who haven’t seen a remote assistant in action before, de-cluttering your in-tray should be one of the first steps you take. This includes those thoughts that have been sitting in the back of your head, those half-finished to-do lists and those sporadically scribbled post-it notes.
  • We always ask our new clients: “what are the things you have pushed to the back of your mind for the last three months?” Without fail, there is always a bill needing to be paid or an outstanding invoice.

Step 4: pick off the low-hanging fruit.

Executives should then prepare a list of rudimentary tasks that their assistant can perform immediately. These could include:

  • Managing emails – a time-consuming task with no monetary gain, handing over control of your emails will allow you to be a proactive executive, rather than a reactive one.
  • Handling contacts – updating your address book and keeping your contacts database up to date.
  • Invoicing and accounts – keeping on top of your incomings and outgoings, including expense management.
  • Managing your work calendar – from scheduling meetings to organising your personal to-do list.
  • Travel – ensuring a smooth itinerary on a business trip or simply booking train tickets and hotel rooms.
  • Social tasks – writing thank you letters and responding to invitations.

Step 5: reflection.

  • Executives should reflect on the completion of these lower-value tasks over the first two-four weeks of working with their assistant.
  • Executives should consider what worked well and what elements of the process they would like to alter.
  • Give regular and constructive feedback – treating your assistant as a professional and encouraging them to ask you questions when unsure will pave the way for more advanced tasks.

Step 6: build on progress.

  • Do not swamp your assistant – although basic to a degree, try not to dump all the low-hanging fruit in one go. Allow your assistant to build up confidence step-by-step.
  • Be clear and consistent when delegating tasks – especially when setting deadlines and explaining the desired end product.
  • Give your assistant the authority to make decisions on your behalf – this faith and responsibility translates into confidence.
  • Do not micro-manage – Fyxers, for example, are experienced and knowledgeable assistants. Continually looking over their shoulder is likely to have a negative effect on productivity and trust.

Step 7: develop bespoke training and harness strengths.

  • Handing down more advanced tasks will inevitably require bespoke training. Executives should therefore set aside time for a call or skype in order to teach their assistant exactly how they would like a more complex task to be completed.
  • When setting an advanced task for the first time, be sure to communicate regularly to ensure your assistant is confident in its application.
  • Over the first month, analyse the skills and strengths of your assistant and look to harness their creativity by setting tasks that best draw out their talent.

Step 8: expand your assistant’s remit.

Once an assistant has proven their worth by addressing initial ad-hoc tasks, you should widen your train of thought and consider how an assistant can help you further, both inside and outside of your working life. You should:

  • Look back at your common task list and consider delegating some of the more advanced tasks.
  • Work together with your assistant to scope out what tasks they feel confident performing, so that your assistant can begin to make a long-term impact on your life.
  • Ultimately look to hand down every task that does not fall into the ‘Vital’ section.

Step 9: making the difference.

Fyxers offer a wide-range of skills and what tasks to delegate will all depend on the requirements and nature of your business. However, after proving themselves adept at low-value tasks, an executive should look to hand down tasks that will transform their working lives.  These could include:

  • Content writing – whether blogs, social media posts or articles, Fyxers can become your own personal wordsmiths.
  • SEO marketing – bolstering your company’s online presence is often time-consuming and requires much dedication, needing constant monitoring and management; ideally-suited for delegation.
  • IT and design – from logos and brochures to site maintenance and online copy.
  • Market research – from studying your competitors to monitoring flows in your industry, your Fxyer can provide reports and analysis to help your business grow.
  • Proofreading and document preparation – once an assistant understands your business, they can prepare documents in advance and give a fresh perspective on your work before you disseminate it further afield.

Step 10: behavioural change.

  • As your assistant becomes more in tune with your life, you should begin to rethink your working practices, whereby it becomes second nature to delegate certain tasks.
  • The more you invest in your assistant, the more you get out – if you commit, then even complex, time-consuming tasks can be a thing of the past.
  • Adapting your behaviour will enable your virtual assistant to fulfil their potential, which will in turn help your business fulfil its potential.

Effective delegation defines executive success. Freeing up an executive’s time enables them to focus on the core elements of their role and drive their company forward. It allows executives to make the best use of their resources and maximise efficiency. It is the very essence of FYXER’s existence.

Topics: Virtual Assistants, Executive Assistants, PA, Personal Assistant, Remote Working, Work, Co-work, remote assistant, communication, FYXER, delegation