Why did you hire a virtual assistant? You needed help, right? You felt it was time to start building a team so that you could focus on the big picture of growing your business. You are in the midst of chaos, you’re becoming more and more disorganized. You are not a software guru.
You needed help.
But now...you’re in a fight with your VA. Every time she offers advice, a suggestion, an idea, you say no. You push back. You fight everything she’s trying to do for you.
You bring a virtual assistant on board to make things easy for you. To lighten your ever-growing load. And your VA is going to know how to do that for you in the best and most efficient way possible. Isn’t that what you wanted?
It’s so important that you are open to everything she’s trying to do for you. If you only ever use Notepad to take notes, or you put all of your notes into an email, she may suggest something better. If you put your entire to do list in an email and she says, let’s transition this to a spreadsheet, let her do it. She says, this way I can see the tasks clearly, one per line, and I can leave notes where you can see what the status is. And we can share this doc and you can continue to add to it. It’s a living document and it’ll make sure things aren’t getting lost in emails.
Your virtual assistant is offering you a good idea. It may be uncomfortable for you because you’ve never used a spreadsheet before, but you have to open yourself up to that. You cannot just keep doing what you’re doing because that’s the way you’ve always done it. That’s not a reason to do ANYTHING.
Just because it’s something you’ve always done doesn’t make it right or good. It just means that maybe you’re a little lazy or you’re horribly resistant to change. If you’re going to run your own business, you cannot be resistant to change. The world is changing around you. You have to kind of go along with it and grow with it.
I’m not saying that all VA ideas are going to be perfect or great, but give them a chance and maybe when you’re comfortable with a spreadsheet, you can work up to project tracking software like Asana or Basecamp or something else that will keep you even more organized. Especially if you’re adding more team members.
Quit pushing back. Quit fighting everything she’s trying to do for you. Otherwise, there’s no relationship, and you should let her go so she can help someone else.
You must think I’m nuts. Because I’m writing a blog about firing your virtual assistant. That goes against every sales and marketing text book out there.
Why would I - a virtual assistant - want to put that nugget of information into your head?
Because it’s important. Because it’s a fact of business when dealing with virtual assistants. Sometimes things just don’t work out and you need to know when it’s time to let someone go, even if that someone is me. (I hope it’s not me!)
In every Employer/VA relationship, there is a beautiful honeymoon that undoubtedly takes place. You, the employer, are desperate for help. The VA tells you all the wonderful things she can and will do for you. Life is going to be better just as soon as you send over the first payment.
Happiness! Joy! Relief!
Unfortunately, sometimes that happiness is short-lived. The honeymoon ends much too quickly. But you think that it’s just because it has only been a few weeks. Your VA is still learning your business. She’ll get better. She’s really busy and you know this. That’s why she’s not returning your message. You just haven’t trained her enough.
And in a matter of weeks, you tell yourself it’s you, and you need to do more, and things will change if only you…
No. Stop that thinking right now.
You get so desperate for help that you’re willing to keep moving down the wrong path with the wrong person. This doesn’t help you or your business in the long run. Deep down in your gut, you know this isn’t working out, but you just don’t want to go through this whole hiring process all over again. So you keep sticking to this person who is not helping you achieve your goals.
Okay, that’s a tough question. I won’t make you answer it, but think about it. What I want to show you are three red flags that will immediately tell you your VA and you are not going to work out.
NOTE: I’m not saying the VA you chose is bad, or that you’re awful to work with. The Employer/VA relationship is completely different than one you’d have at an office. Because you’re both miles apart (and it could be countries apart), the relationship has to be one of trust, understanding, and care. You’ll work more closely with your VA than anyone. She will be an amazing support system for you. She will know just as much about your business as you do.
That means the relationship has to be just perfect to work.
So let’s talk about those red flags that will help you know it’s time to break up before you invest too much time and effort into a VA.
She promised turn-around times - but doesn’t deliver
I think this one is a complete deal-breaker in any business. During the honeymoon, if you ask your VA to write blogs, and she tells you she will write and post one per week every Tuesday at 10am….and you see the blogs being posted once on Wednesday, then a week goes by with nothing…. RED FLAG.
An experienced VA is going to know how long things take to do (generally) and what her schedule is like so that she can accommodate your timetable properly. Failing to adhere to the delivery and turnaround times for work is a huge problem. Perhaps the VA just doesn’t have good time organizational skills. Perhaps she’s tried to take on more work than she’s able. Whatever the case, you cannot have a VA who turns in work to you “whenever.” That’s unacceptable.
She does not respond to your messages in a timely fashion
If you’re asking her a question Monday morning and she doesn’t respond until Wednesday… RED FLAG. Now, for me personally, if I’m receiving emails and phone calls outside of business hours, yes, I probably will not respond until I’m officially in the office again. Because we all have to have the boundaries of work hours and personal hours in order to maintain our happiness. (You don’t want your customers calling you at home on a Saturday night at 10pm, do you?)
But during business hours, your VA should respond within a reasonable amount of time. Even if it’s just to say - hey, I got your message but I’m on the phone. I’ll respond as soon as I’m off.
Acknowledgement is key to a great Employer/VA relationship.
She told you she could do what you asked - but she can’t
The worst offense between any two people is a lie. When you ask a quality VA if she is able to do a task, she should tell you the truth. If you were to ask me if I can design a website for you, I’m going to flat out say NO. I am not a web designer. Can I use platforms like Wix or Weebly or other drag and drop sites? Sure. But anything coding - that’s right out.
If you have key tasks that need to be done by someone who has experience, you need to make sure they have that experience. Plenty of people (not just virtual) will say they are able to do something just to make themselves look better in the interview process. But, when it comes time to shine, they can’t perform. And you don’t need someone reading through help files and “For Dummies” pages in order to solve your problems.
Of course, the best remedy even prior to having those red flags flying is to take your time before you hire. Feel free to check out our previous posts on the whole hiring process.
Everything is going great with your business. Productivity is up. You’ve got new customers every day. Your team is amazing. It’s time to celebrate!
But what do you do when some or your team is virtual?
What happens when you have an office where a local team works, but you also have other team members dotted around the country (or world)? In today’s digital age, this is extremely commonplace. How can you, as a business owner, include your virtual assistants, virtual web developers, virtual content writers and more in your in-house celebrations?
One of the hardest things that virtual workers have to deal with is the isolation that sometimes happens when they’re working for people who have in-house teams. While it’s great to be able to work from home, virtual workers are always left out of company celebrations because they’re not there physically.
They see and hear the aftermath of festivities. Photos of an after-hours event with smiles and games. Chatter at the next meeting with inside jokes about what happened at a party.
These things hurt the morale of your virtual workers.
And when morale is low, productivity drops. Mistakes rise.
There are a couple things you can do to ensure the whole team in included in events, meetings and celebrations.
BUY LUNCH FOR EVERYONE
Let’s say you have a quarterly in-office meeting. You gather in the conference room, turn on the Polycom and video connection. You buy lunch for everyone in the office. And what do your virtual workers see? They see an employer who bought lunch for the people there, but didn’t think about the whole team. And it’s very difficult to watch a group of people gathered together, enjoying a thoughtful token of appreciation, while they sit there not feeling appreciated.
It seems like such a small thing. A boxed lunch. But it’s tells your virtual worker that he wasn’t important enough to do the same for. But you can do the same!
Prior to the meeting, why not send a gift card to each virtual worker to a sub shop so that they can pick up lunch and eat together with the team. Or have something ordered and delivered to their home office. Something that makes them feel included, even if they can’t be in-office.
HAVE AN ONLINE CELEBRATION
Maybe once or twice a year you and the in-house crew go out for drinks, or mini golf, or bowling or any other after office hours event. It’s team building, right? But why aren’t you including the rest of your team? If they contribute to the business, they need to be included in the celebration.
How do you include virtual workers in an office party?
It’s simple. Have an online party. You can play video games together online. You can even create a digital scavenger hunt, grouping some virtual and some in-house people together. Cell phones and FaceTime make it easy to connect anywhere, and they can be physically and electronically hunting down locations, images, objects, etc.
When we hire virtual workers, we really need to think outside of the (office) box and remember that they are integral parts of the team that deserve the same thanks and recognition that in-house workers get. Take the time to remember and reward your whole team, not just those who can walk into a physical office.
Are you looking for out-of-the-box ideas for company events that will include your whole team? Contact me and let me put together a party your team will never forget.
It is hard to hire virtual workers. And I say that as a virtual worker, and as someone who hires virtual workers. You’re going to go through a painstaking process of finding the best worker. You need to know that you’re picking the best person for the success of your business.
However, it’s absolutely critical that you know who is really doing the work for your business.
When you start your search for a virtual worker, you may find yourself looking at various websites of people that tell you all the great things he is going to do for you. And when you go through the interview, you’ll talk to the person whose photo may be on that website, and you’ll have discussions about what he can do and will do.
And you end the conversation feeling good. And you hire this person. But who did you hire?
It’s possible that you hired just one person - the one on the site. But, it’s also very possible that that person is just a face to talk to, and your work is going to be outsourced to someone in another state or country. This is a problem.
You didn’t interview the outsource. You didn’t know the outsource existed. You thought you were hiring a specific person with specific skills. Now you don’t know what it is you’re getting for a worker.
This happens more often than you think in business, especially nowadays when a lot of hiring is done via emails, websites and contract houses. I remember once, when I worked for a major corporation, we were hiring a programmer. A contract house had found someone, and several team members had done a phone interview with him. All was well and he was hired. Unfortunately, the person on the phone was not the person that showed up at our office. The person that showed up could not speak any English. That was a problem!
So, how do you know who will be doing your work? You have to ask. Truly, you need to find out who it is, and then request an interview with that person. It is important that you’re comfortable with that person. I have had several clients ask to speak to my team members - I’m perfectly okay with that. If that team member is doing the bulk of the work, that client needs to be in direct contact (and vice versa).
The virtual work environment needs to be open and honest so that you receive exceptional results every time.
If you’re thinking about hiring a virtual assistant, please contact us here at Your Gal Friday and we’ll talk about the best solutions for your business.
Honesty is a crazy thing. We all expect each other to be honest, but only to the point where the truth doesn’t hurt. Back in college I took a course in Photography. (Yes, besides being an English major, I’m also an Art minor. Please stifle the chuckling.) Each week we received an assignment, went forth and snapped photos, and spent time in the dark room developing them. (Remember film cameras?) At the end, our photos would be pinned to a large wall in class and we would begin “critique mode.”
Only it never was critiquing. It was a group of people saying things like “Well, I like it but maybe, if you thought it might work, you could…” or “It’s nice.” These were unhelpful. I would be frustrated having to listen to my classmates skirt around the truth. Where was the honesty in it? It would be nice to think that all my photos were gems, but they weren’t.
One day I was fed up and after class I took my photos, went to the professor and said, “Please give me your real opinion.” Without even pausing, he told me that the photos were dull and unimaginative. They weren’t good. And I thanked him for his honesty. I was happy. Why? Because, for the first time I got constructive criticism. I was doing things wrong, and no one else had mind enough to be honest with me. If you can’t tell me what I’m doing wrong, how will I ever learn to do it right?
When we do something wrong, we need to be told that we’ve done wrong. If we do something incorrect for our clients, we should expect them to tell us we messed up. Employer-Employee honesty is critical in having a successful relationship and getting the job done right. It doesn’t feel good when someone points out your errors. But it feels even worse when you find yourself in a bad business relationship because no one’s willing to be honest and talk.
25+ years of business experience. 12+ years of virtual experience.