How to avoid pain in working with Virtual Assistants.
As a part of a focus this week in helping church leaders kick start the new year . . . I’m focusing on hiring Virtual Assistant(s) within the church context.
You are about to cross over into a whole new way of looking at the work you do. There are going to be some positives about working with remote help . . . but like working with anyone there is bound to be disappointment and pain.
As an example . . . here are things I’ve experienced with VAs that have kept me cautious about this approach to administration:
- I was working with lone provider VA on the other side of the world . . . she was new to the business . . . and hadn’t seem to figure out some basic customer service expectations. There wasn’t a language barrier . . .but I think I missed a cultural barrier. When tasks goals went missing she just disappeared. I didn’t hear from her for weeks. I ended up having to take the tasks back onto my list. Eventually we reconnected and picked up again . . . but I’ve been cautious of this provider.
- I was working with a VA within the States . . . she was working part time doing VA work for people. Things in there home life kinda fell apart . . . again the VA went AWOL. She left tasks uncompleted and I still haven’t heard from her over a year later.
- I got a leader friend of mine sold on using a VA for a bunch of his admin work. It seemed to be going well. But then the provider had increasing internet issues on their end of the equation. They missed a few Skype check in calls. Tasks started to dropped. I felt stupid for advocating Virtual Assistants . . . felt like I lost some chips with a trusted colleague . . . not to mention the fact that it created more hassle for him.
I can understand how some people feel about the risk of trying something new like this. In fact . . . I felt the same weirdness at the beginning but in spite of the problems I’ve run into I have found the benefits outweigh the risks.
Systems > Talent
Think about how you can over define your tasks as a series of clearly laid out steps. Break it down into a system . . . think templates and flow charts and “if this . . than that” sort of statements. If things don’t work out with a particular VA . . .you can take those instructions and systems and move them to another provider.
Go face to face.
Don’t let all the communication ride on email or text messages. Book regular check in Skype calls. Pay them for that time . . . and talk through the projects. Let them in on what your organization goals are. Relate to them as people . . . not as a cog.
Be clear on deadlines.
How much time do you want someone to spend on the task? When is it due? Make sure it’s über clear what you are thinking on timelines. Set “progress check-ins” so you can track how things are moving along.
Use all the collaboration software and systems available to you. Your VA can make recommendations on this front. But you need a common virtual work space that you can check on the work at any given moment. Don’t fear the technology . . . leverage it.
Walk before you run
Try small tasks first. Then as you get comfortable try more complex and important tasks. Test the VA out with tasks that aren’t mission critical to start. Then move closer to what you want them to do long term.
. . . have fun!
Do you enjoy your interactions with your VA? Don’t shy away from worrying about a positive relational connection. Notice your emotional response to interacting with them . . .if you are bored or not enjoying the interaction . . . that might be a sign to find another provider.
This month I’m giving away 15 hours of free Remote Assistant work from The Office Escape. To qualify to win you need to be signed up for my weekly email updates. [Click here for more information on this month’s give aways!] Also the email subscribers are getting a special bonus this weekend that shows them where to find a great VA to start working with today!