Key Performance Indicators or KPI’s are often used to assess how organizations are progressing towards meeting key goals. You can use KPI’s for your business as well as your employees. If you aren’t making the progress you need, or you hit a plateau, mid-course corrections can be applied to change the outcome.
In business, you start by laying out your specific goals. For example, you might look at reaching a specific revenue goal. Next, you would detail the strategies you would need to employ to meet your goal. A strategy might include increasing the number of cold calls or email contacts on a weekly basis. Then, you create the key performance indicators to measure your performance against these goals.
A KPI Strategy For Virtual Assistants – An Overview
The same strategy can be applied to virtual assistants and those they assist.
By breaking down specific goals into manageable strategies, you can assess performance. Let’s say you are a real estate agent trying to increase your sales volume. Your strategy might be to increase your brand awareness in order to get more listings by increasing your marketing. Your implementation might be to have your virtual assistant work on specific areas of marketing that are measurable. An example might be something like increasing your Facebook followers by 10% each month for the next 6 months.
Creating these specific strategies to meet your goal can create a metric in which you can judge performance for your virtual assistant.
KPI’s also allow you to examine the impact of the work that’s being done. Let’s say, in this example, your virtual assistant successfully implements the strategies you designed, but you fail to gain more listings after the six-month period. In this case, you might conclude that your virtual assistant did what you asked, but that the strategy is flawed, and you need to revise your plan.
Once you establish your KPI's, put them in writing. That way both of you have a document that spells out expectations that you can use to evaluate performance. When people have written goals, they were 33% more successful in achieving them, according to a study by psychologist Gail Matthew.
Establishing measurable goals helps you determine whether your virtual assistant is reliable. Managing people remotely can be a challenge for many managers. When employees work with you in your office, it can be a little easier to judge their work ethic, their work output, and their overall performance. When someone is working remotely, you need to establish clear goals to measure their performance and reliability as well.
Assessing Long-Term Viability
Working with the right virtual assistant is key to the relationship. KPI’s give you a way to evaluate their future potential. When you find they can meet your goals, consider whether you should expand or increase their goals, and whether they are the right person to work with you long-term.
You need to decide what is important to you. For example, is it important for your virtual assistant to maintain specific working hours, or are you OK with a flexible schedule as long as your goals are met, and tasks are completed on time?
Depending on the working relationship, you may expect to receive a daily report on progress or work delivered. In other cases, it may be a weekly or monthly report. One of your KPI’s may be to define the reporting structure and timeline. When someone is working remotely, communication can suffer without clearly defined expectations.
How To Set S.M.A.R.T Goals
Creating vague goals or failing to define the specific actions that need to be taken to achieve the goal can make performance evaluation difficult. The best strategy is to set S.M.A.R.T goals.
When drafting your goals, answer these five questions:
What do I want to accomplish?
Why is this goal important?
Who is involved?
Where is it located?
Which resources or limits are involved?
Your goal might be to significantly increase your social media presences or search position in order to gain more listings.
Now focus on the action steps you need to take to complete your goal. Asking your virtual assistant to increase your social media presence is vague. Defining their goal as 2 social media posts a week that get 10 engagements or shares is specific.
It’s critical that your goals include clear ways to measure performance. Employer and Employee relationships sometimes get off track because each has a different perspective on their performance. When goals are defined and can be measured, it takes the uncertainty out of the equation. Whether your virtual assistant did enough to increase your social presence is open to interpretation. Whether they completed those two posts a week that netted at least 10 engagements is measurable and concrete.
While your overall goal may be bigger picture in nature, the goals for your virtual assistant need to be defined in a way you can judge performance by “Completed” or “Not Completed.”
You must be realistic in the goals you set for your virtual assistant. Asking for 10 engaging Facebook posts every day is not being realistic. Creating goals that can’t be met do nothing but discourage your team.
The more you can make your goals relevant to the person doing the work, and taking advantage of their skill set, the more engaged they will be in meeting your goals.
Each goal needs to have a defined timeline. Whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly, or annually, you need to pick the time frame in which you expect the work to be completed and for reporting. For longer-term goals, consider setting milestones to mark progress along the way and make sure everyone is staying on task. If there is a problem meeting goals, you are always better off finding out sooner rather than later.
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting is an effective way to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to expectations. It provides clarity and focus. It gives you a way to measure performance and achieve your goals.
Once you have set your goals, established your KPI’s, and built in your timelines, it is also important to schedule regular reviews to assess effectiveness. On an annual plan, for example, you might want to review work against KPI’s on a quarterly basis. For a monthly goal, you might need to assess weekly.
Again, keep in mind that your virtual assistant might complete every task you have given them, but it still might not reach your overall goal. In that case, you need to determine if you assigned the right tasks and if the quality of the work is an issue.
Written goals are a road map for your virtual assistant to measure their efforts and helps them to see how they contribute to the larger success. It helps guide and motivate.
Getting a list of what you are expected to do and being able to check them off when done feels good. It can be motivating and inspirational. It creates a sense of accomplishment. As humans, we’re taught at an early age to keep score. This provides a way of showing whether you’re winning.
There’s a psychological component to all of this. When we experience success, our brains release dopamine. Dopamine can create the sense of pleasure, and aids in learning and motivation. It can be addicting (in a good way!). When the dopamine hits our system, we’re wired to want to repeat the actions that resulted in that feeling. In scientific circles, it’s called self-directed learning.
In short, the more you succeed, the more you want to succeed. The more times you succeed, the longer your brain retains the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Over time, even meeting small, measurable goals can help wire your brain for success.
Achieving goals and tasks help virtual assistants (and all the rest of us) stay motivated.
The flip side of all this is that failing to provide clear KPI’s can be demotivating. Imagine getting a set of goals like these:
Generic goals or goals that lack specificity
Goals that have no way of measuring progress or completion
Goals that are out of your control
Goals that cannot realistically be achieved
Goals that don’t have timelines or deadlines
How would anybody be able to assess whether the job was getting done? In addition, it would be impossible to assess efficiency and effectiveness.
You also want to make sure your virtual assistant understands how the parts of the job they are doing fit into that bigger picture. Some tasks may seem unimportant until you have a clear understanding of how they can add up.
It’s why S.M.A.R.T. goals are so important.
Let’s circle back to our example. If you are asking your VA to create more engaging social posts, it helps to make sure they understand that creating more engaging social posts can lead to increased brand awareness. Increased brand awareness can lead to more sales leads. More sales leads can lead to more conversions. More conversions can help the business meet its revenue goals.
It may seem intuitive to you but may not be to someone that is not physically in your business every day. Connecting actions to the bigger vision help keep people focused on smaller tasks when they understand how everything fits together.
Celebrate Your Successes
When your sales and marketing teams make a huge sale, you celebrate! When you meet long-term production goals, you celebrate! Since virtual assistants work remotely, it can be easy to forget that they are real people as well. Don’t forget to celebrate their successes. Even if they are working as paid contractors and you expect them to do what you ask them to do, a little praise and thank you can go a long way towards providing motivation.
When something your virtual assistant does plays a role in landing a new client, completing a major company milestone, or hitting a personal goal, let them share in the success.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, you need to have a virtual assistant that can clearly meet your goals and do the job you need. By setting S.M.A.R.T goals, having clearly defined metrics, and establishing a baseline for how you want your VA to work, you will have a tangible basis to evaluate performance and determine whether you have the right person doing the right job.