How to be a great boss to a Virtual Assistant

by Productivity

Are you in need of a Virtual Assistant but don't know where to start?
Have you hired one in the past and it didn't work for you?

Don't miss out on a great relationship and opportunity to grow your business. Here's how to be a great boss for a Virtual Assistant.

One of the services I provide is to help entrepreneurs get prepared for hiring a Virtual Assistant. We determine the tasks that can be outsourced, the type of assistant that's needed, if location matters, how to delegate tasks and even what to expect if choosing to outsource in the Philippines.

One of the common issues is that business owners don't hire in the ‘sweet spot'. They either hire before they are ready and then don't have enough work for them or wait too long and then don't have time to train them.

I've worked with and interviewed three VAs for this article, including my own, to give you the top mistakes employers make in outsourcing virtually.

Most common mistakes.

Giving a deadline without consulting the VA. Sometimes the task is more complicated than the client realizes and when the VA can't get it done, ends up disappointing the client.

Not knowing what tasks to delegate or how a VA can help them. Before ever hiring an assistant, start documenting all the tasks you are doing that can be delegated. This way, when you bring them on board, you have a list. It also helps you determine what type of VA you need. If you think a General VA will work, but later discover what you really need is a Technical VA, you've wasted a lot of time in the interview and hiring process and frustrated the VA with tasks that don't match their skillset.

Biggest VA Pet Peeves.

People who assign tasks with very vague instructions, and then disappear and ignore clarification questions. You have to be willing to engage with your VA if you want the best work from them. It takes time for them to get to know you and be able to anticipate your needs and the way you like to do things. You have to be willing to put in the time up front to get them there.

When a client asks how long something is going to take, it's difficult to estimate appropriately if the task has never been completed. If we give the wrong timeline, it's annoying for both parties. This was stated by all three VAs.

What helps a VA be more efficient?

Clear and detailed instructions from the beginning of a task. Virtual Assistants don't know your business like you do. At first, it's better to assume they know nothing and tell them everything.

Communication through a regular meeting and availability at least some of the time for chat or IM if in a different time zone. Clear expectations about the things I am doing well and what I need to work on.

Most common misunderstanding about VAs.

That they only have one client, you, and because they work from home, they are willing to work all hours of the day and the weekends. If you are someone who expects things to be done within the hour or even a few hours, the money-savings in hiring overseas isn't going to work for you. Marcey – In my world, I don't consider anything urgent because I'm not saving a life, therefore having someone overseas is fine for me.

That VAs are available at any time of day with very flexible working hours. Some employers send email or chats at wee hours in the morning and say it is urgent. It's not a good feeling to wake up to that.

That he/she can do everything for the business that the employer does. As business processes and solutions change or more sophisticated technologies are incorporated, employers sometimes forget that learning takes time.

Favorite VA/client interactions.

For one client, everything I have done for her (a lot of which I was able to suggest and do once I got to know her and her business better) has helped her to be much more organized and stay on top of everything that used to get away from her. As a result, her business has grown, and she feels secure knowing she's got me in her corner. That's a good feeling.

Satisfying the client to help their business prosper and their appreciation and expression that you are more than enough.

I like my employer/employee relationship. My boss appreciates me for a job well done and tells me when I am doing crappy work. I like it that she sends me a chat or heart in Asana when she especially likes something I do. It feels like getting a star in kindergarten 🙂

Special thank you to Rea Mae Donato, Amber McCracken and Junnaliza Arreglado for their honesty and help to make business owners better bosses.

Are you ready for a virtual assistant? Contact me and let’s get outsourcing so you can work in your line of genius!

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jim west

Principal and Managing Director, GFF Architects