In this age where computers and the Internet are now ubiquitous elements of modern existence, virtual assistants (VAs) have also become essential players in any business structure. Small and medium enterprises as well as corporate executives are now employing virtual staff not just to save on costs, but to help them achieve their business goals, create and spread their products and services to the online market, and get the simple things done and done well. Simply put, virtual assistants are now valuable manpower and they could help change the fortune of any business endeavor for the better.
But it is not just a matter of hiring virtual assistants to make things a tad easier. Getting the right person to work for you can be quite hard. Finding good virtual assistants can be tougher since they are usually located thousands of miles away and might be enjoying the sun while you are all bunked up in your bed. There are several suggestions you may find online. You can always ask friends and loved ones who work with virtual employees for their recommendations. Or you can go online forums and seek wise recommendations and referrals. Whatever you do though, it is quite tough to seek a virtual contractor who is both skilful and reliable.
But say you have found someone who exhibits the characteristics and traits of an ideal virtual assistant, the question then becomes, “how do you get the most out of your VA?”
But before you answer that, you also need to understand that virtual assistants are human beings, who can also get tired and overwhelmed with office work if you decide to push them well beyond their limits. If you want to get the best out of your virtual assistant without whipping them like a work horse, here are some expert tips from some of those who handle and maintain effective and prosperous relationships with their respective virtual assistants.
Communicate and communicate well. The best way to start a good relationship and keep it that way is to have open communication. The same applies to virtual assistants. Communication does not only entail you providing instructions through email or Skype and them submitting their daily performance report at the end of the day. Communication should also include you and them talking about issues you face, discussing work-related problems, and brainstorming for business solutions among others. You would be surprise how a simple chitchat can make things easier at work. You will gain a peek to their lives and they will also have an idea about yours. That said, there are certain boundaries and it is good, if not best, if these communication boundaries are observed.
Know what to outsource and who to outsource. You might have the best virtual assistant in the planet but even the top VA can’t deliver an excellent performance if you do not know what to delegate effectively. Right from the start, you should know what part of your business you need help with and not throw every job to your virtual assistant. So before you scour the internet in search for the perfect digital business helper, you need to delve into your enterprise and see what work requires more human personnel and what aspects of your enterprise you can and want to handle yourself. By knowing what job to outsource, you are helping your virtual assistant understand the specifics of his or her role, making him or her more effective and efficient with their assignments.
Let your virtual assistant know your business goals. You can start by creating a written or visual overview of your enterprise and explain to them how you intend to address and achieve your corporate targets. By taking the time to explain your business, you are making them understand where you are coming from and where you are planning to go. You would just be surprised if your virtual assistant can come up with ideas and suggestions that can significantly help you reach your goals and realize your dreams.
Set a schedule for project management, whether daily or weekly. You are the head of the business and therefore, it is one of your biggest responsibilities to know what is going on with your crew and their projects and tasks. You can use online tools to make sure you have everything plotted in your calendar. Or if you can’t, you can hire a virtual assistant to perform the scheduling tasks for you.
Think of your virtual assistant as a collaborator. You might be thinking that you know best when it comes to your business. However, there are some people who may have better ideas and approaches that might give your business a boost. Ask your virtual staff for their insight and you just might find yourself a diamond in the rough. Don’t be a heartless task master. Be someone your subordinates can relate with and at the same time respect. Treat your virtual assistant as invaluable, irreplaceable part of the team and you will be thankful that you did.
Do’s and Don’ts When Hiring Virtual Assistants
Operating a business or managing a huge project can be an exhausting task. And in many instances, many entrepreneurs in this modern age succeeded in their fields because they have a staff of virtual employees working at their beck and call. So, if you are a business owner or an online entrepreneur, you might find yourself toying with the idea of getting a virtual assistant yourself. That said, it is best that you understand that there are certain do’s and don’ts that apply to such arrangement. Here are some of the things you might need to ponder on before you get yourself a virtual assistant.
DO think of them as human beings. General virtual assistants are people. They breathe, they feel, and they do tend to exhausted and tired if they are overwhelmed with office work. If you are hiring one, you should also understand that they are capable of getting stressed and frustrated and angry. As one business executive puts it, “I make sure my VA gets the rest she deserves because I don’t want her to go online with a grumpy mind set.” Grumpy employees, as many employers concur, deliver poor performance and bad productivity.
If you need specific expertise, DO hire a specific VA for the job. Most employers get virtual assistants to handle things that an executive secretary would normally handle – handling phone calls and emails, scheduling and confirming appointments, interviews, and business meetings, managing the boss’ itinerary plans and even buying stuff for the wife and kids.
However, if you are require a certain skill set for a specific job you want to outsource, you might want to get a VA who is qualified to perform the task. If you want to outsource a job that involves crunching numbers and payrolls, it is only logical to outsource it to someone who has good accounting and bookkeeping skills. You should never expect a general VA to perform certain tasks that requires a particular talent. It is just wrong to do so.
DO accept that you are not the only one who can do things better. It is quite natural for many entrepreneurs and business owners to have this slight air of superiority when it comes to running their businesses. It is hard for business owners to let go of their responsibilities and leave it to other people’s hands and often times, many tend to check up on their subordinates to see whether they are doing a good job or not. However, constantly doing so often leads to friction between employer and employee and there is no doubt that such issues can adversely affect productivity and performance.
There are times when you have to let your subordinates do what they are tasked to do and trust in their abilities and skills. If you really want them to get the job done, you therefore need to communicate their responsibilities and make them understand their role. Aside from that, you also need to keep your communications line open so you can relay your pointers and that they can file in their suggestions and recommendations.
DO provide feedback to your virtual employee. Feedbacks are great constructive tools if they are used well. Thus, you do not just relay both your satisfaction and disappointment for your VA’s work, but you are providing an avenue where you can share more insight to your virtual assistant so that he or she can improve. Feedback also provides opportunities for both parties to ask questions and give answers, resolve any existing issues to reduce instances of rework and back logs.
Do not be offer cheap pay rates. Many business operators and entrepreneurs opted to work with a team of virtual employees to save costs on office space, equipment, and maintenance fees. That being said, saving on costs does not mean you have to pay your employees with peanuts. While it is true that virtual assistants may be affordable compared to hiring personal assistants and office secretaries, it is highly recommendable that you offer salary rates that are worth a person’s expertise and services.
Do not resort to micromanagement. Aside from saving funds and resources, another reason why many employers opt to hire virtual assistants is to free up significant portions of their times. This huge allotment allows entrepreneurs and executives to channel their efforts to other pressing matters, projects, and other immediately important priorities instead of toying with non-core functions that require too much time and expertise.
Do not think of your virtual assistant as your own personal work horse. Your virtual assistant may help you a lot with your business and perhaps even become a valuable individual in improving the fortune of your enterprise. But it is wrong to expect your virtual assistant to take charge and manage everything for you. Your virtual assistant is with you for a good reason – to help you with your work. Just because she is very good in handling telephone communications does not mean you can task her to phone a client and discuss a potential deal while talking in German.
Do not hold out your knowledge. There will be times when your virtual assistant will require more than just instructions. Although most virtual assistants take the initiative and start their own research when they do not know something, you can greatly help by providing your own insight and explaining how you want things done. There may be some instances when you have to give out some knowledge if you really want your virtual assistant to fully understand what you want them to do.
Do not alienate your virtual assistant. Communication, as emphasized time and again, is important. Hand out your instructions, check in from time to time, and have a good conversation with your virtual assistant every now and then will make your employee feel less alienated and more involved. Such practice encourages positive relationship between you, the employer, and your virtual assistant. A positively charged working environment, even as unique as the one shared by an employer and his virtual contractor, leads to positive results and better productivity rate.
Virtual assistants have proven to be essential assets to their employers. Forging a functional and effective relationship with your virtual assistant is not that hard, even if you are separated by several time zones and thousands of miles. But in order to really get the most out of your VAs, you need to master the art of delegation, as well as the science and art of communication.
Delegating work to someone who is basically living on the other side of the planet can be daunting. However, when you have done your job well, screened your VA candidates, pick the best among the bunch, and believe that they have the skills to perform an excellent job, then perhaps the next best thing is to trust your virtual assistant.
Open communication, consistent feedback, and proper instructions are all part of the equation. But when you really sit down and look at the bigger picture, all you need to do to have a good professional relationship with your is to do things as common sense dictates. If you do that, you could almost never go wrong.