While outsourcing makes hiring a virtual assistant much more affordable, a VA still represents a significant investment… Especially if you’re the owner of a small business operating on a shoestring budget. Naturally, then, you’ll want to get the most out of the person you hire by maximizing his or her value to your organization. A few key ways to accomplish this are presented below:
Know where you’re hiring from.
You wouldn’t hire an employee without researching his or her background thoroughly, right? Well, the same logic should apply when you’re hiring a new virtual assistant. (Note that this is especially important if you’re working with a freelance virtual assistant rather than an agency-based one.) Make sure your VA’s credentials are legitimate and take the time to contact the references he or she provides.
Interview your Virtual Assistant as you would any other employee.
Even if your VA’s skills and references are excellent, you should still conduct an interview. Interviewing the VA will help you determine if he or she is the right fit for your company’s culture. Moreover, interviewing a VA is a great way to determine how proficient he or she is in your native language.
Set clear expectations
VAs can do a lot of things well, but they can’t read minds. Your VA’s duties should be clearly defined: He (or she) should know what he’s doing, when, and for who. It’s also important to fill your VA in on both your short term objectives and your long term business goals. Why? The more VAs know about your company values and mission, the more they can fine-tune their services to reflect them. Additionally, having a sense of purpose (as employees do when they understand the mission underlying their efforts) is highly motivating.
Provide basic training
While your VA should come with the skills needed to perform his or her basic duties, you’ll still need to provide some instruction. Train your VAs to use your business’s systems (e.g. payroll systems, spreadsheets) and verse them in your firm’s policies. Remember, each one of your employees is essentially a representative for your business, so policy matters even with outsourced staff.
Encourage your VAs to grow with your company
Just because someone doesn’t work for you on-site, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to offer. As you build a long-term relationship with your VA, consider allowing him to expand beyond his initial duties. Invite him to try tasks that will help him gradually develop new skills and aptitudes… You never know what hidden talents you might uncover.
As a final note, to increase your chances of finding an excellent virtual assistant, we recommend hiring from within an agency. Agencies typically verify the credentials and experience of their VAs (so that you don’t have to). Better still, they can assist you in managing, training, and communicating with your virtual assistant. Many agencies will even provide a similarly-skilled VA to replace your old one, should the need arise.