How to Delegate to Your Virtual Assistant
The number one issue I encounter when talking with those in ministry isn't what you think it is.
Every pastor who reaches out to us recognizes they need some form of administrative help. They also recognize that Ministry Assistant Services can save their church a TON of money and time. But without fail THE biggest issue that many pastors don't know where to even start with delegating tasks. They aren't sure what should be delegated or how to delegate those tasks efficiently and effectively.
In this post what I want to do is outline how to delegate tasks, what tasks to delegate and provide a basic strategy to make sure the delegation process is smooth.
The Problem is the Start
Let me start by saying something really important: hiring a VA will take a LARGE burden off your shoulders, but it DOES require some strategy--and that takes some effort.
In other words, the complexity of delegating comes right at the very start which is why many people simply don't do it. It requires training, feedback, patience and thoughtfulness.
Many leaders are not prepared to do this and so when something is not quite right, many throw their hands up and say, "This whole VA thing isn't going to work."
I use a VA (which I should since I run a VA company), and so I have a lot of experience in this area. The reality is that no matter HOW excellent your VA (and I have AMAZING ones that work for me), they are not mind-readers. I still have to clearly communicate what needs to be done until they learn my patterns and specific needs. There is an inevitable learning curve.
There are several ways to overcome this initial learning curve but they do require time and strategy on the leader's part. Thankfully, there are some great strategies involved that can really help you make the transition to using a VA easier.
What Should I Delegate?
I used to ask clients what their specific needs were when they scheduled a call with me.
Many were not entirely sure.
I get that. When someone directly asks you "How can I help? What can I take off your plate?" that can be overwhelming. Where to start?
I used to list some of our services that we provide and that sometimes jumpstarts the brainstorming session.
But I have found that really there are three questions that really get to the heart of all delegation. These questions are not unique to me but I have used them and most pastors have found it incredibly helpful to think through their needs this way. I'll share them now with you.
1) Tasks You Hate
You know the tasks--the ones that suck your soul out of you weekly. These are often the tasks we know NEED to be done but we procrastinate on them. Over time, these unfulfilled tasks can wreak havoc on our mental wellbeing (and get you in hot water with people) We all have these tasks...and 99% of these tasks can be outsourced to a VA.
2) Tasks You Can't Do
Whether it's because you don't have enough time or enough know-how, there are certain tasks that you simply can't do. Many of these tasks can be outsourced to a VA as well. I continually preach to our employees to develop RANGE in their skill set. This gives them a variety of skills and competencies that allow them to quickly diagnosis and figure out solutions--even to tasks they have never done before.
3) Tasks You Shouldn't Do
This is by far the hardest one for many pastors to think about. We ALL know those tasks that you are saddled with weekly that you simply shouldn't be doing. Yet it is SO easy to justify our continued (wasted) effort on these tasks: "It'll take too long for me to teach someone else how to do it."
"It doesn't take me THAT long to do it." "I don't want to waste money on a task that I could do." "People will think I am lazy for giving this task to someone else." "I don't HATE doing this task--I just wish I didn't have to."
Let me get as real as possible: there are tasks that are simply NOT your responsibility and are costing you FAR MORE than you think. The reality is that when you are doing tasks you shouldn't be doing, you are losing time, energy, and focus--all of which are limited quantities. You will be a more productive leader when you get rid of those tasks you shouldn't be doing.
More tasks does not equal great productivity.
More tasks in your wheelhouse equals great productivity. And that's what hiring a VA can do--get you into your wheelhouse.
How Should I Delegate?
Now that we've explored WHAT you should delegate, we need to develop a basic strategy of HOW you should delegate tasks.
I have found Michael Hyatt INCREDIBLY helpful here. In his book Free to Focus, he talks about "5 Levels of Delegation." Determining your level of delegation also determines your how. To summarize the five levels:
Level one: you want the person to do exactly what you've ask them to do--nothing more or less.
Level two: you want the person to examine or research and topic and report back to you--nothing more.
Level three: you give the person more room to operate and problem solve, but you reserve the final decision for yourself.
Level four: you want the person to evaluate the options, make the decision on their own, execute it and then give you an update afterward.
Level five: you hand over the entire project or task to someone else and exit the decision making process entirely.
99.9% of the time, our VAs operate in the first three levels. Realistically, this is Ministry Assistant Services' sweet spot. We like the first three levels like a pig likes mud. While we CAN operate in the fourth and fifth level, we have found that this is difficult to do when working with institutions. It is much easier to perform levels four and five if you are hiring our VAs to personally assist YOU.
So here are some "best practices" when delegating tasks.
First, communicate and then communicate...and then communicate. We can't read minds. Be crystal clear in what you want done and your preferences.
Second, it is helpful (though not necessary) if you either type out the step-by-step instructions for reference or record a one time training video. This lessens the learning curve on our end and will ensure you get what you want right away.
Third, use bullet points in communicating. We LOVE bullet points and it will help you see the progression of your own thinking.
Fourth, if relevant, give us samples of what you like. This helps us make sure we deliver a similar level of quality and will allow us to see your expectations.
As you can see, the first few weeks of delegating tasks can take a bit of time. However, simple math will tell you that if it takes you two hours to train and delegate tasks that eat up ONLY 30 minutes a week, you will break even in a month and net an extra DAY a year.
Now consider the fact that you are probably dealing with HOURS of tasks weekly that eat up your time. Delegation will save you a lot of time, stress and frustration. It is worth the initial work. So, are you ready to take the leap and hire a VA? Schedule a free 20 minute consultation with me and let's talk about your objectives. You can get started quickly and start feeling the relief of having a team working for you.