I like to think that working with a virtual assistant is a little like a relationship, you only get something out of it when you really put in effort.
Here are some quick things that you should never do if you want to derive the benefits a Virtual Assistant has to offer.
Don’t underestimate their skills and capabilities
Many Virtual Assistants will bring a considerable range of skills to your engagement. An easy trap to fall into is to pigeon-hole your VA’s into specific areas and only utilize them for that specific role. You will be amazed at how adaptable some VA’s can be – for example, my primary HR professional just happens to be a whiz at Canva! So when she is not out finding us the best VA’s available, she is creating wonderful images with Canva that our team uses on social media posts.
Tip: Talk to your VA’s and get a broad understanding of their skills (and what they enjoy doing). Put that range of skills to good use!
Don’t be stingy on training
I have heard from a number of clients that they refuse to invest in training for their VA’s because they are unlikely to get a return on that investment. Others go as far by saying that they expect the VA’s to pay for their own training needs as they are only a contractor to their business. I understand the rationale behind this but still believe it as incredibly short-sighted. Investing by training your VA’s will only increase their loyalty and productivity for you. By focusing on training your staff, you are creating a working environment of continuous improvement which will not only make your company a place people want to work, it will see higher quality outputs from your team.
Tip: Invest in training and build your team for the long term.
Micro-management is a negative management technique that rarely delivers the outcomes intended. Micro-management sends the following messages to your employees;
– I don’t trust you
– I don’t believe you
– I know better than you
– Your skills are not good enough
– I don’t understand your capabilities
While micro-managers in a physical environment can potentially get away with controlling behaviours, the absence of face to face time in the virtual world can actually compound the impacts of negative managerial techniques. Typical responses from a VA when micro-managed are;
– Seeking excessive approvals for every step of the process
– Becoming paralysed and inactive due to fear of disappointing you
– Frustration leading to VA walkout
– Making simple errors due to stress and anxiety
Tip: Trust your VA’s. Task them, agree onto deadlines and then step back and let the VA deliver. Assess work performed upon completion and make quality improvement part of a continuous improvement process.
Don’t treat your virtual assistant like a robot
It is easy to disassociate the text you read on Skype from the fact that there is a person typing at the other end. This can lead to engagement that is often cold, clinical and one way. Treating your VA like a robot is a sure fire way to ensure that you receive no value add from the relationship. Remember, people who work for you will often be facing challenges, obstacles, and frustrations that as a leader, you can help them resolve. Forming a more personal connection and treating your VA as a person is a great way to build loyalty, improve your working environment and the quality of the outputs you receive.
Tip: Get to know your VA. Learn about their family and what motivates them outside of work. Don’t be afraid to build personal connections with people.
Don’t pay late!
Let’s face it, your virtual assistant is primarily working for you for the pay cheque. This doesn’t mean they are not committed but we have to be honest about the primary driver for your VA. Just because a VA is working for you, does not mean that they are sharing the risks that running a business entails. Those risks are yours and yours alone. It is important that your VA’s are paid on time, every time.
Tip: Make sure you keep enough payroll aside to pay your virtual assistant in case of emergency. Your payroll funds should never be used other than for payroll to your staff.