Successfully Managing Virtual Assistants

Here are a couple of tips when working with (human) virtual assistants, particularly when dealing with the world of AI:

Clearly define tasks: Working remotely needs a different way of thinking. Provide a clear and detailed description of the task, including objectives, deadlines, and any specific instructions or guidelines. This helps reduce the chances of misunderstandings. When you give instructions, make sure they are very precise and clear and there is no room for ‘interpretation’ of your instructions that are not in alignment with what you need.

Prioritize tasks: Determine the order of tasks based on their urgency and importance and ensure your Elf understands.

Delegate responsibility, not just tasks: Instead of micromanaging every step, empower your virtual assistant to take ownership of the tasks. Provide them with the necessary authority to make decisions and find solutions independently. They might just surprise you with what they come up with! I did this with the AI book trailer. While I could have created it myself, I simply gave a copy of the book to my Elf and told her to create to her heart’s content. She provided me a wonderful AI-generated video of the morphing images that I could then turn into the trailer.

Provide necessary resources: Ensure that your Elf has access to all the tools, software, and information required to complete the tasks efficiently. This may include providing login credentials, so you might also want to investigate setting up separate accounts for your Elf (I have helped waaaay too many people get back access to their programs etc after an outsourcer has moved on, is not contactable and (with no malicious intent) taken the login details with them).

Establish communication channels: Set up clear communication channels with your virtual assistant – email, messaging apps, video meetings, various project management tools. Regularly check in and be available to answer any questions or provide clarifications. Personally, my Elves check in with me once per day via email just to keep me in the loop – this is the bare minimum.

Provide feedback and guidance: “Scheduled and structured feedback loops” is a phrase that most who have worked with me, particularly on the AI-Enabled Leader Peer Programs, have heard over and over and over… Regularly provide feedback to your Elf on their performance. Acknowledge their successes and offer constructive criticism when necessary – and make sure it is in real time – don’t wait until a later date. This helps them improve and align their work with your expectations.

Consider their expertise: Take advantage of your virtual assistant’s specialized skills or knowledge in certain areas. Think about this before you even take on your Elf in the first place – what is it that you really need?

Set realistic deadlines: Be mindful of the time required to complete tasks and set realistic deadlines. Avoid overwhelming your virtual assistant with an excessive workload or tight timelines. This promotes better work quality and prevents burnout.

Appreciate and reward: So often the only time Elves get feedback is when they do something wrong. Please ensure you recognize the efforts and contributions of your Elf.



Ms (Leigh) Bella St John’s career to date is that of achievement strategist, executive coach, professional speaker, and a leading authority on finding innovative solutions, ‘abundance thinking’, virtual communication, and remote leadership.