The majority of business sectors, specifically the small and mid-sized enterprises (also called SMBs) are experiencing immense pressure following the ongoing fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. These businesses are preoccupied with devising new ways on how to pivot their business. Some of these strategies entail taking risks by deviating from the norm and enduring specific sacrifices if it means sustaining the business and maintaining the connections established with long-time customers.
Fortunately, the presence of the internet’s power and vast capability, a good number of the most common dilemmas shared by businesses during the pandemic can now be met with easier and more feasible solutions. Some of these solutions include investing in a virtual assistant to handle various types of tasks that are essential in enabling a smoother transition in a business’s daily operations. From managing schedules and organizing meetings to more advanced tasks such as digital marketing, SEO, and web development, virtual assistants can take a significant amount of workload off the plate of most business owners.
However, as prolific as they may seem, some virtual assistants fail to meet their employer’s demands and expectations due to some unavoidable factors. These factors include lack of work experience or knowledge on a particular software or task, disagreements on the rates or compensation, and the amount of time that a virtual assistant can dedicate for the job.
That said, for businesses both new and old in the virtual assistant industry, here are five mistakes to avoid when collaborating with a virtual assistant:
1. SETTING UNCLEAR OBJECTIVES FOR HIRING A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
Hiring a virtual assistant is easy — yes — but knowing what tasks to delegate is the hard part.
When hiring a virtual assistant, it is important for the employer to know why they need to hire a virtual assistant in the first place. Define which tasks, responsibilities or projects need outsourcing and specify why it needs to be assigned to a remote workforce. Is it due to the lack of in-house staff? Or is it because finding an experienced professional to do the job on such short notice is more possible with a virtual assistant? Without providing concise reasoning on why employing virtual assistants is a viable option for the business, employers will only waste a significant amount of time for both the company and the applicants.
Conduct an audit on all the crucial areas that make up for the stability and continuous growth of the business. Sift through all the big and small difficulties often encountered by the company and take note of problem areas that require immediate solutions or improvement. Determine the priorities from the less important to the most critical tasks. From there, it will be easier to draft a list of responsibilities and undertakings that will be assigned to a virtual assistant.
2. ASSUMING THAT VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS ARE AKIN TO MACHINES
Yes, the more experienced a virtual assistant is, the more flexible and reliable they are when it comes to handling a variety of projects and tasks. On the other hand, business owners should not misinterpret the term “virtual workforce” as a synonym for mechanically operated or AI-powered staff. Virtual assistants are humans too. Like in-house employees, they also have limitations on the amount of work demand that they can take on a daily basis. As such, it would not be fair for employers to dump every single task they can think of to a virtual assistant.
Remember to always compartmentalize and set clear goals for each task. This will enable the virtual assistant to work smoothly and understand what the business expects from them.
3. UNDERCOMPENSATING EXPERIENCED VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS OR DEMANDING TOO MUCH FROM ENTRY-LEVEL REMOTE STAFF
Always look for the virtual assistant with the right skill set to handle different tasks. If the business is on a tight budget, opt for virtual assistants with less experience or non-specialized skills.
There is nothing wrong with hiring virtual assistants with entry-level skills. The good thing about hiring VAs with little work experience in the industry is there is so much that a company can teach them in terms of the skills and knowledge related to the job or project assigned to them. With proper guidance, the business can even serve as the stepping stone for beginner VAs to bloom into efficient and indispensable resources for the company’s continued success.
Some employers make the common mistake of bombarding entry-level virtual assistants with highly advanced tasks, even without first providing them with the necessary training. Some hire virtual assistants with more experience but struggle to reach an agreement if the compensation offered does not amount to the level of expertise possessed by the VA.
The said mistakes are typical especially for small businesses that want to save a significant amount of money for other key areas of sustaining the company. The desire to stay on-budget especially amid a global health crisis is understandable. However, it should not be used as a reason to undercompensate experienced virtual assistants or demand excessive work from Tier 1 level VAs. When virtual assistants are overworked and underpaid, it often leads to poor performance and disputes between the company and the VA.
It is also for this particular reason that businesses need to weigh their options carefully and hire virtual assistants only when there is a dire need for it. Enumerate and define all the responsibilities that need outsourcing. Determine the appropriate pay grade for the tasks and try to find a middle ground that will benefit both the business and the VA.
4. FAILING TO PROVIDE THE REQUIRED TRAINING SESSIONS FOR VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS
Perhaps this point cannot be stressed enough, but virtual assistants are highly instrumental especially when working in a dynamic workspace.
But, every once in a while, new and additional skills are needed to make virtual assistants more efficient and dependable in fulfilling the tasks assigned to them. Some employers tend to overlook the importance of giving their virtual assistants the chance to develop and expand the knowledge that they currently have.
Schedule a periodic training session for virtual assistants. Providing the necessary training not only helps remote staff learn new things, but it also allows them to stay loyal, motivated, comfortable to work.
5. LACKING COMMUNICATION WITH THE BUSINESS’S REMOTE MANPOWER
Last but definitely not the least of the five usual mistakes in hiring virtual assistants, is the lack of communication between the employer and the outsourced employee.
Since VAs are working remotely, employers should exert more effort in reaching out to them and ensuring that any form of miscommunication is immediately cleared out.
The better and more consistent the communication employers and virtual assistants have, the more favorable the results. After all, communication is the bridge for better understanding.
Employers can easily conduct regular and well-moderated virtual meetings through different online video conferencing platforms and applications such as Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts to name a few. Keeping open communication will enable employers to tackle updates, review outputs, and establish a more positive work relationship with the remote team.
MORE UNDERSTANDING, LESS MISTAKES
The virtual assistant industry offers a variety of skills that can address the different areas essential in strengthening different businesses. One of the key approaches in avoiding a fallout between employers and virtual assistants is first knowing what mistakes must be avoided. By knowing what mistakes to avoid and how to resolve it, businesses can make the most out of the skills and expertise that their remote workforce has to offer.