10 rules of hiring a Virtual Assistant
Avoid discussing politics or personal finances
Politics and personal finance are very sensitive topics. It is advisable not to discuss national politics with your virtual assistant. Different people have different views and different ideologies. Discussing politics creates division and might impair your relationship with your virtual assistant. National politics can create a hostile working environment for your virtual assistant and this might lead to poor performance. If you feel any of your conversations with your virtual assistant are going to end up with political talk, try to change the subject to other general topics such as weather. Personal finance is also something you should avoid discussing with your virtual assistant. Personal finance can be defined as how a person manages the money they have or the money they make. Personal finance involves a lot of different factors such as family setup, priorities, people want different things in life and life is unpredictable. Your virtual assistant may have commitments that may not allow them to have a fancy lifestyle. Personal finance has no one size fits all approach hence your virtual assistant may be offended by any recommendations or comments you may make or may be stressed out especially if things are not going their way financially. You should keep the work environment between you and your virtual assistant strictly professional and your conversations should mainly be about work and other non-sensitive topics.
Refrain from personal loans
It is not advisable to lend money to your virtual assistant as this may complicate the work relationship between you and your virtual assistant. This may make it awkward between you and your virtual assistant. Lending money to your virtual assistant may affect communication between you and your virtual assistant as they may not be able to speak up or suggest any ideas because they owe you money. This may put pressure on the virtual assistant as they might need help on a specific task but because they can’t talk about it, they just suck it up and this will affect their performance. If the virtual assistant fails to pay back the money, this may ruin the relationship between you and your virtual assistant and this will affect the business more. Your decisions may also be biased as you might try to recover your money by giving your virtual assistant more work to do, putting pressure on your virtual assistant. It is advisable to let an external institution deal with any finance related matters so that the relationship between you and your virtual assistant does not become complicated. The relationship between you and your virtual assistant should strictly be professional.
Your Virtual Assistant is a “real person”
A virtual assistant is a human like you or any other person and hence should be treated as one. They should be treated like any of your normal staff. The only difference with a virtual assistant is they are working remotely but they are an employee just like the ones that work with you in person. As such, your virtual assistant may fall sick or have an emergency they might need to take care of. It is advisable that you give your virtual assistant reasonable leave of absence in the event that they may request permission not to show up to work because of unforeseen circumstances. Giving your virtual assistant leave of absence creates worker loyalty because the employee feels valued so they increase their dedication to their job. If you don’t allow them time off to deal with their personal issues, they may sabotage your businesses and this will affect your business. This will go a long way in ensuring your virtual assistant feels like a part of the ministry as they are treated like other staff who are on the ground. It is also important to include your virtual assistant in any team building activities or counselling sessions you may offer other employees. This will make your virtual assistant feel valued and part of the your ministry.
Training your Virtual Assistant is essential
Taking up a virtual assistant is like taking up a new employee to work for you. The new employee needs to be welcomed to your ministry and trained on the policies and procedures of the organization. Since the virtual assistant will be working remotely it is important that they are fully onboarded and trained so that they understand your business processes such as any special software you use or how to answer calls or respond to emails according to your specifications. Training your new virtual assistant will allow you to see any weaknesses they might have and how you can overcome them so that they do not affect your business. Communication is of paramount importance during this stage and you should provide the adequate training materials for your virtual assistant such as any scripts, slides, handbooks or handouts concerning their work. During training and onboarding, you should lay out your expectations in terms of work to the virtual assistant. This allows uniformity of work between your virtual assistant and staff on the ground. Equipped with all the information, the virtual assistant will be confident in doing their work and there will be reduced errors.
Manage your expectations
A virtual assistant is a human and humans can only do so much. A virtual assistant is a person working remotely and is not a robot doing tasks through artificial intelligence. As such is only able to do work a single person can do. You should delegate a reasonable amount of work to your virtual assistant so that they do not become inundated. When taking up your virtual assistant you should agree on the job description that is the reason the position exists, its objective, what work they’ll be doing and responsibilities; and the degree of supervision needed. Giving your virtual assistant too much work may overwhelm them and this may lead to unnecessary mistakes or a decrease in performance. Burnout, which is work-related stress that results from too much work, may affect your virtual assistant’s health and they may be exhausted all the time. Your virtual assistant may feel disappointed in themselves as sometimes they might not be able to give their best because they have a lot of things to do. Some people are perfectionists and are very precise about the quality of their work. This frustrates them and will decrease their performance. This in turn affects your business as your clients may view you as unprofessional or you do not know what you are doing.
It is important that your Virtual Assistant has the necessary tools
You should provide your virtual assistant with all the materials necessary for them to create their duties effectively. This may include any special hardware, software, handouts, handbooks or manuals that are relevant in the work your virtual assistant does. These will help your virtual assistant do their work effectively as they have all the information and material required to do their duties. If your work requires your virtual assistant to bring their own technology (BYOT), ensure that they know what is required for them to discharge their duties effectively. Having the necessary hardware, software, and training increases productivity and reduces wastage. It also makes it easier for your virtual assistant to do their job. When your virtual assistant doesn’t have the right tools, and they are forced to do their job with what they have, it may cost your company its reputation as they may not perform up to the level expected of your business. Your reputation may be ruined because your virtual assistant may do substandard work which is not expected of your business by your clients
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communication is the means by which employees exchange information and ideas. Communicating effectively in the workplace is a critical aspect of getting any job done, whether it occurs in-person or virtually. Communicating well with your virtual assistant means that you and your virtual assistant are on the same page in terms of duties they are supported to do. You should build a personal relationship with your virtual assistant so that they don’t feel alienated from the rest of the people. It is advisable to create a feeling of open communication between you and your virtual assistant such that if there is anything your virtual assistant may need or they feel might need to be changed they won’t hesitate to contact you. When communicating with your virtual assistant you should keep the message direct and simple so that the virtual assistant knows and understands what is expected from them. There are different ways to communicate with your virtual assistant. This can be through emails, video conferencing software such as ZOOM or project management software where you can communicate the tasks your virtual assistant is supposed to do. Lastly, provide feedback about the work your virtual assistant is doing. This will help your virtual assistant know the areas they are doing well and which areas need improvement. Providing feedback can work as motivation for your virtual assistant.
Leverage cloud app for easy access and sharing of files
Cloud apps come from the word cloud computing which is computing services from applications, servers, networking, processing to storage of data over the internet which is referred to as the cloud. As technology is evolving, many businesses are moving their processes to the cloud. Cloud apps have many benefits as compared to local apps. With cloud apps it will be easier for your virtual assistant to access and share files related to your business. This is better compared to having to send files to your virtual assistant as per request via email. Using cloud apps helps your business save a lot because there is no need for any hardware for servers or storage purposes. Using cloud apps means you don’t have to incur any costs related to IT issues because the cloud service providers are the ones that maintain the cloud apps to ensure they are up and running. You only have to pay a fee to use their cloud services. Cloud apps have improved data security and the apps are updated automatically to the latest through the cloud service providers. Cloud apps mean your virtual assistant can access any information or services your business may have subscribed to, wherever they are. All these benefits allow you to focus your resources to other areas of your business, including making your virtual assistant’s job easier.
Personal and proprietary information
Your virtual assistant will come across personal and proprietary information while doing their work. Personal and proprietary information relates to information that is not known to the public. This information may be trade secrets, finances, manner of operation, technology used and subscribers to name a few. Having your virtual assistant know that such information is private will go a long way in your relationship with your client. Leaking of such information may get you sued and this will damage the reputation of your business. Leaking confidential and proprietary information may be seen as theft of intellectual property and may attract fines or imprisonment. Therefore, it is your duty to explain to your virtual assistant about confidential and proprietary information and the dangers of leaking such information to them and to your business. To prevent the leaking of proprietary information, you should carry out a security check on all official and unofficial accounts of your employees, at least once a month and keep a regular check on the outflow of confidential information from the company. Information control and management procedures should be put in place to reduce the risk of any information leakages. There are cases where your virtual assistant might accidentally leak information. In cases like those, thorough investigations should be done to establish what really happened and if indeed it was an accident, then the virtual assistant can be given the benefit of the doubt.
Review often and redirect as needed.
It is important to review your virtual assistant’s duties often and to redirect them to other areas as needed to improve their knowledge of other areas of your ministry. Reviewing helps your virtual assistant know how they are performing and if there is need for any improvement in any areas of their work. Employee performance is measured via performance appraisals, which allows them to recognize their own strengths and flaws. Employees will attempt to overcome their flaws and strengthen their strengths as a result of this, which aids in their personal development. As a result, their performance will improve, and they will gain new abilities and experience. Reviewing your virtual assistant’s performance helps you in developing future training policies. Reviews also help your virtual assistant to be accountable for their work. Redirecting your virtual assistant has the benefit of encouraging self-development, it gives employees a break from arduous job duties and helps you identify where your virtual assistant works best. Redirecting your virtual assistant may help you discover hidden talent your virtual assistant might have that you or they might not know of. However, redirecting may lead to a loss in specialized skills as your virtual assistant may not be in a role long enough to master any skills of that particular area. It may also decrease productivity as you might redirect your virtual assistant to an area they might not be very productive in.