What made you decide to hire a virtual assistant? As business owners and entrepreneurs, you could’ve considered employing a virtual assistant to free up your time.
Freeing up your time is premised on the widely accepted belief that your time is more valuable and should be focused on money-making endeavors. As such, time-consuming tasks should be outsourced to others who have both the skills and time to complete them more efficiently.
It is the same principle that I follow with my businesses. If someone can do it better and quicker, I might as well hire them to do it. That way, I won’t waste my time doing tasks that aren’t really my specialization and devote my energy to things where I truly excel.
So you’ve hired a virtual assistant. You’re impressed with his resume and skills. You’re now set to delegate tasks and create a seamless work process. But all of a sudden, the virtual assistant vanishes without a trace.
Disappearing virtual assistants are detrimental to your business. After factoring in your virtual assistant in your project timeline, you’ve set the deadline for your deliverables.
Vanishing virtual assistants can devastate your project timeline and set due dates. And it’s an ever-present risk in outsourcing that virtual staff and remote workers vanish without saying a word.
To help you when this scenario happens, here are some tips to avoid disappearing virtual assistants.
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Don’t Ignore The Warning Signs
When you emailed your potential virtual assistant to set up an initial interview, how fast did they respond? Did they show up on time on the day of the interview? Response time is vital in a remote office setting in particular. Your virtual assistant should value the essence of time and promptly answer messages.
The interview stage is an opportunity for you and your virtual assistant to learn more about each other. So it is crucial that during the interview, you ask the appropriate questions to evaluate their culture, attitude, and skills.
Don’t employ based on skills alone. You also need someone with a positive attitude, values hard work, and seeks long-term work. Moreover, you should be able to address these questions before signing up for a virtual assistant:
- Are their rates suitable for your budget?
- Can they work on your schedule?
- Can they work as many hours as you need?
Don’t move forward with the application if there are any red flags and their responses won’t suit your business needs.
Stop searching for a bargain. Bargaining for a virtual assistant may cost you more than you may save in the long run. If your tasks are not properly done, you may need to find someone else and spend more money fixing the issues.
Working with a virtual assistant may be a new idea for you. It is especially true for first-timers who have just started their outsourcing journey. Thus, setting reasonable expectations is essential. Here are some tips you can adapt:
- Allow some time for your virtual assistant to understand how you operate and learn from your working system.
- Unless you hire them full-time, most virtual assistants have more than one client. Therefore, it is unreasonable to expect things to come around quickly as you can with your staff. Your virtual assistant will presumably have laid down their availability time in the terms and conditions.
- Don’t be a ‘last minute’ person. Plan and delegate tasks ahead of time so that your virtual assistant can organize the assignments promptly.
- Don’t expect your thoughts to be read and understood by your virtual assistant. Communicate what you want to accomplish and offer them all information that your virtual assistant may need to execute the job.
- Be realistic in giving a deadline. Try to be in the shoes of your virtual assistant and see if the deadlines and schedules are achievable. Even the best virtual assistants can’t achieve complicated and technical tasks in the blink of an eye.
- In the first two weeks of the onboarding phase, constant communication is the key until such time that your VA can adjust to the assigned tasks.
Virtual assistants are not accessible 24 hours a day. Many virtual assistants do not have a regular working schedule. Most of them work part-time in the evenings or on weekends. Remember to set clear and realistic expectations with your virtual assistants to avoid misunderstandings in tasks delegation and delivery.
Clear Delegation of Tasks
Delegation is an excellent strategy to accomplish things. It’s like you have more hands and more brains working for the same goal. But don’t raise the bar too high.
Not everything that seems convenient is simple to do. Delegation is more than just instructing your virtual assistant to do specific tasks. It also requires your commitment to be present for the duration of the task’s completion.
You may document your processes to improve the performance of your virtual assistant. Think about how you want every job done and establish a deadline. Engage to provide tasks that they can regularly complete so that they can manage their time wisely.
Some prefer delegating tasks and pay in a flexible hourly contract. Others assign their virtual assistant tasks worth 40 hours a week. The bottom line is that delegating tasks should not be full of ambiguity and are clearly stated to avoid confusion and failure to meet expected results.
Give Regular Feedback and Assessment
Most virtual assistants are freelancers serving numerous clients. Although they are not your internal employees, providing frequent feedback through a formal review process is recommended. You can express your concerns and discover early warning signs on underlying work issues.
Here are some helpful tips for organizing your review process:
- Create a virtual staff assessment form.
- Schedule an hour-long, two-time monthly evaluation session for each virtual assistant.
- Ask your virtual assistant to have a self-assessment as a year-end evaluation.
- Compare notes and offer honest criticism during the review meeting.
- Save your evaluation data and meeting notes.
The review procedure is your chance to evaluate your virtual assistant’s performance and address some work issues objectively. If you assess that your virtual assistant complicates your business, maybe it’s time to do some action and backup plans to ease your life.
When Things Fail
Employers or managers may have their reasons for failing in specific areas of managing a virtual assistant. Before jumping into outsourcing, it’s essential to assess your willingness to work with remote workers.
You have to expect some challenges, as mentioned in this article. And your commitment matters.
It’s the commitment between the virtual assistant and the company owner/manager that spells the success of the outsourcing arrangement. On your part as a hiring employer, commit your time to delegate, coach, and assess your virtual assistant regularly. By doing these, you’ll achieve your business goal and won’t have to worry less about disappearing virtual assistants.