Virtual assistants are qualified individuals providing administrative, technical or creative assistance from a home office, and generally work on contract. They are not fully-fledged employees, and often have more than one assignment on hand.
Every so often we hear of Virtual Assistants being changed and new ones recruited. Many companies have a track record of VAs being replaced every few months. The nature of work being such, this is not a smart business move. While it is acceptable to use some VAs periodically for specific assignments, changing the set of regular VAs can spell doom. They must be treated as an indispensable part of the team and they too must be able to figure out the needs of a project and contribute accordingly to enhance the performance of the company. They also have their own set of grievances, and allegations which make them leave assignments and look for newer ones. It really seems to be a case of open distrust, but with communication channels open, and an exchange of ideas and expectations from each other, both VAs and companies can find an amicable solution and establish a long term working relationship.
Some factors to consider include:
- Looking for the right Virtual Assistant– Businesses need to hire the right VA with the appropriate expertise needed for handling their business. It is not correct to hire the first one they find and then expect them to perform from day one. A solution is advertising for VAs and short listing three to five of the ones seeming most suitable. It is only after a candid interview will it be possible to pick the best one. Asking for references and tracking their past performance will also give valuable insights in to the potential and capability of the virtual assistant.
- Specific targets and expectations- If you do not know yourself what exactly your end goal is, and only have an idea about what you want, there is no way that the VA will be able to deliver. It is important to have clear cut targets and goals and these can then be converted into expectations from the VA. It may mean starting on a small project and going through it in detail with the VA so that the next one can be handled in the same manner. Being able to communicate and giving the VA time to understand your personality, your code of ethics and your style of doing business, all help in getting the best out of them, and making sure that the one hired is the one that stays.
- Showing appreciation- VAs are as human as full time employees, and a bit of appreciation goes a long way in helping them do better. Having a VA on tenterhooks whether he or she is doing things right, the fear of being fired, or being hauled up for mistakes, does not let them put in their best effort. On the other hand, letting them know when a job is well done, that you care and have a long term perspective for keeping them, will bring out the best and help them provide results that you would like to see.
Eventually VAs are like any other member of the team, needing time to settle in and understand the requirements of the task at hand. Giving them the right inputs and constant encouragement at every step will ensure that there is no need to look beyond the one you have, to hire another one.