Most businessmen are no longer strangers to the concept of delegating a portion of their workloads to virtual assistants.
Even professionals in private practice, such as doctors, accountants, and academicians sometimes enlist the help of VA’s.
But nobody is perfect and sometimes the relations between you and your virtual assistant may not work as well as expected.
The most important aspects to having a chance at a great working relationship with a virtual assistant is defining what type of help you need and carefully choosing the most suitable candidate.
But once you have hired a VA, what would help ensure a smooth and mutually beneficial working relationship with him or her?
Since you are collaborating online, you cannot easily smooth relations with a drink or two after work, or with a token gift.
1. Respect and prompt payment go a long way
While it is true that you are the boss in the relationship, taking a superior air never gives positive results; it might cause your VA to let you have the reins, so you lose the opportunity to get valuable feedback.
Give your virtual assistant the respect you would give to a partner, for he or she is one.
And should your VA not live up to your expectations, it is better to just end the relationship on good terms.
Remember the saying about not burning bridges. And while you are at it, pay him or her on time.
The task you delegate to your VA might be small to you, but it is how they make a living.
2. Be generous with praise
I have yet to meet a person who does not appreciate praise for a job well done.
And sincere praise does not even cost much – just a little bit of extra effort on your part. But the rewards can be huge – it can encourage your VA to go the extra mile to ensure his or her work meets or exceeds your requirements.
However, you must also be watchful of errors, not necessarily to censure but to correct or redirect as soon as possible.
Remember that you only interact online.
3. Virtual assistants do not possess psychic abilities
One of the most basic things an assistant expects you to provide is a clear set of instructions; he or she needs this to have a chance at ‘getting things right.’
Make a list of the things you want done and be as specific as possible regarding quality, quantity and submission requirements.
Make sure your VA knows when you need to be in contact with him or her, when they should be available for work, and how much work you expect them to do in a given period of time.
An ‘assistant’ generally requires guidance from a more senior person – in this case from you!
4. Never underestimate the value of good communication
Good communication is essential to the success of any relationship; perhaps more so in the case of people who collaborate only online.
To complicate matters, some words may have different meanings in different countries supposedly speaking the same language; this is true of English, French, Spanish, etc.
More than just providing clear instructions, you will need to ensure that your VA understands them.
Ask for periodic updates so you can clarify directions when necessary.
5. Trust but verify
All relationships need a measure of trust to work; the quote from Ronald Reagan “trust but verify” comes to mind.
Depending upon the amount of work you delegate, setting up a time tracking software to monitor your VA’s activity may be beneficial; it should be able to ensure you do not get charged more hours than your VA actually worked.
It would also that your VA is really spending time doing work for you rather than chatting away on Facebook on your dime!
6. Set goals rather than giving minute instructions
While you need to provide clear instructions, avoid the temptation to overdo it. You need to make sure goals are clear especially with regard to work quality, amount of work to complete, and required submission date or time.
Micromanaging results in two major negatives: you spend too much of your precious time instructing a person you hired to free you up for more important work, and you also prevent the VA from using his own initiative to get work done.
7. Allow your virtual assistant to help you
You hired your VA because he or she possesses skills that can help you get your work done.
If you spend too much time looking over your VA’s shoulder, you not only waste your valuable time, you also waste the VA’s potential.
A VA treated like a dumb assistant, will be content in the role – and it is you, the client, who loses out.
Ultra close monitoring may only be justified at the start, when you and your VA are still trying to get a measure of how each other works.
After the adjustment period, you should trust the VA enough to allow him or her to work independently.
8. Find a workload and schedule that works for both of you
Because you collaborate with a VA online, you may be on different time zones. Make sure that your VA understands and agrees with your requirements not only about working hours, but the amount of hours you require him or her to work per day, week or month.
Otherwise you may end up getting late submissions or poor quality work.