By: Louisa Tew and Kerry Nelson
Hiring a virtual assistant to help you move forward and grow your business is going to be one of the best decisions that you will have to make. It has already changed so many lives, and we’ve heard many say that they’re not going back to the way things were prior to the VA.
However, signing a contract is only the start. There is still some work and preparation to be done on your end not just in the beginning, but throughout the duration of your engagement with them. And one of the first things that you should do is to set expectations with your newly-hired VA.
Now, this might seem a simple and straightforward task, but you’ll be surprised at how it is often overlooked. According to a survey conducted by Gallup, only half of the employees interviewed knew what’s expected of them in their jobs. These unclear expectations end up greatly affecting productivity and efficiency at work, and overall success of the staff members as well.
Setting clear guidelines may even be more difficult if you’re working with someone who is located hours away from you, or in another country and timezone. But these challenges make your efforts to communicate with positivity and clarity even more vital if the relationship is going to be a successful, productive one well into the future.
So, here are a few strategies to ensure that you and your new VA are on the same page as soon as they are hired.
Before you begin expansion, you need to set up a system whenever new employees join the team. Set a standard of excellence for your company from the outset in the way you manage onboarding and induction.
We suggest developing a checklist of things you need to do before your worker’s first day. This includes not just processes, but important files, access log-in information and important software to install. Keep adding to this list as time passes and your business grows.
Additionally, continuously develop resources such as Company Culture documents, welcome videos, checklists and templates to keep this process evolving.
It’s not enough to just label your new worker a ‘virtual assistant’ and expect them to know what the job entails. You have provide a detailed description too.
Basic information like hours, pay rate and leave entitlement and a clear overview of tasks must be covered. You should also explicitly state who they will be reporting to, who will report to them and to whom will they go to should they need resources. They also need to know what is expected in terms of company culture, and what results they need to produce while employed.
Keep in mind that as your business scales and new needs pop up, your VA is not a magic fairy that is an expert in everything. So, if you’d like them to do additional tasks, discuss with them and provide the necessary training if they agree.
All the steps involved in routine tasks must be recorded in detailed instruction manuals. The instructions must be short and clear for every step. You can also include screenshots or screen recordings for added accuracy.
Once you have all these laid out, train your VA to do these on their own for more effective delegation and autonomy.
Establishing strong lines of communication lays down the foundation for a great working relationship. Have ongoing chats on Skype or Slack, send emails every day, and grant access to all platforms needed to do the job.
Creating an inclusive, warm workplace environment is a great start to building a great working relationship with your VA. Make them feel that they are really part of the team, even if they may be miles away. Physically speak to them daily, not just through chats or emails. Acknowledge and reward excellence at work so they get more motivated to do even better.
Let them hear your voice and talk to them, try to get to know who they are. Remember them during their birthdays, and maybe send photos and anecdotes if you go on holidays.
Problems come up even if your VA is working from home. So, remember to be understanding, especially if your VA is not located in a first-world country. For instance, in some parts of Asia, the Internet speed is still not as fast as those in the top tier. The Philippines is a country that is hit with hundreds of typhoons in a year, so power outages are not uncommon.
Make sure to come up with a plan should these emergency situations arise. Some VAs will take the initiative and put in extra hours so they can finish any projects that were put on hold.
Additionally, keep in mind that no one should work when they are sick or they are caring for loved ones in life-threatening situations.
If you want to set your VA up for success, and contribute to ongoing growth as well, then getting off on the right foot by setting clear and reasonable expectations is the way to go. This often overlooked task can save you a lot of heartaches and frustrations, effort, and time that could have been spent in other more productive ways.