Yolanda A. Facio | Featured Contributor
The fastest way to lose money, when working with outside help, is to give your outside help the wrong things to work on.
If you want to make sure that your outside help, virtual assistant, marketing consultant, or even web designer is providing consistently
productive help, you need to work on three things: specificity, focus, and clarity.
Here’s what I mean:
Before you can hand off a task to anyone, whether it is a virtual assistant working part-time for you or an employee who works full-time, you must first break down the task into its component parts.
“Write a blog post each week and submit for review”, is a task instruction that will keep your help busy on more than you had in mind. If provided this task, I would spend time researching topics, I’d look at old posts to get ideas about what kinds of posts the client/employer might want, I’d look for pictures to accompany the post, then I’d sketch out a blog post and begin trying to figure out how long it should be, what tone it should take, what type of format the client/employer generally uses.
Those are just the first things that come to mind.
I would likely spend more time trying to figure out what the client/employer was looking for than actually writing the content.
A more robust task instruction would include answers to all those questions so that the person completing the task has everything they need to simply write a post. Why pay them to figure out the rest of the task?
When task instructions lack specificity, you pay more for the assistant or employee to get the work done. Specificity means more efficient work and higher productivity.
Because we are overwhelmed as business owners, we have a tendency to miss things. When we are pulled in multiple directions, we assume that to get it all done, we must multitask.
Multitasking is basically working impaired. Research indicates that when trying to do two tasks, we cannot switch between them efficiently, much gets lost, it’s as if we are working drunk.
The loss of focus means that when we get to a place where we really need help, we fail to make that help effective. A virtual assistant with an incomplete picture of what needs to be accomplished, or incomplete instructions, means we are paying for that assistant to figure things out. It’s a poor use of time. Even if the person is an employee and has a pretty good picture of the business, they will still have questions and blank spots related to what is expected of them; the cost adds up.
If you want real help, valuable and productive help, you need to get focused. Especially when it comes to setting instructions, tasks, and expectations.
Knowing what needs to be done and how it needs to be done are only two parts of the puzzle. Knowing how to provide direction in a clear and effective way is equally important.
Everyone needs clear direction. Even the simplest of tasks requires clear instruction. The reason is simple… lost time and energy.
Every time your assistant or employee goes down the rabbit hole of information in an effort to figure things out, you lose time.
It can be easily avoided by taking the time to go through instructions carefully, and to make sure that questions can be asked openly. When you close down access to asking questions because you are busy, your help can’t do their job effectively or efficiently. It’s one more way time is wasted and expenses rise.
It’s Not The Help
All of the complaints you may have had in the past about using a virtual assistant, or hiring a full-time admin person, may not be because of the hired help.
If you have failed to provide specificity, focus, and clarity while getting them up to speed on their tasks, you’ve likely been the contributor in their failure to get things done like you might want them done.
Outside help can’t read your mind. For this reason, you should start compiling instructions for tasks you’d like to outsource long before you hire. Spending time collecting data, while you are still doing the tasks, makes it easier to explain to your assistant. Remember to jot down specifics, even things like font type and size if necessary.
If you’ve been shy about getting help or you feel like you’ve had a bad experience in the past, it’s time to give it another go. When you follow the rules of specificity, focus, and clarity, you’ll have better experiences and that translates into less overwhelm and getting more done!
Yolanda A. Facio is an Entrepreneur, Consultant, and Writer who helps small business owners run their businesses better so that they can get more done, make more money, and have more life. A seasoned business owner, Yolanda has spent 20+ years starting, building, and operating successful businesses; she has in-the-trenches experience that she shares through her work as a consultant and writer. Author of two bestselling Kindle books, when she’s not blogging at Balance Driven Entrepreneur, Yolanda divides her time between her clients, businesses, writing, and her two furry girls.