The use of virtual assistants (VA) is on the rise as more and more business owners are recognizing the value of hiring virtual assistants to help their brand grow and scale. Virtual assistants provide many benefits, including being more cost-effective than hiring a full-time, in-house employee.
They can also effectively increase businesses' productivity because they are best suited for the most tedious day-to-day tasks that tend to put a large dent in productivity. Are you ready to hire a virtual assistant to grow your business? Here is what you need to know about how to hire and manage multiple virtual assistants.
How You Can Hire Virtual Assistants
As a business owner, it can be tempting to dive in and surround yourself with an army of virtual assistants to help you with many tasks. Jumping in without taking the time to plan and hire a VA, you will find yourself worse off than before. Let's take a look at tips for successfully hiring virtual assistants.
One at a Time
Even though you plan on having multiple virtual assistants, it is important to only hire one at a time. Begin by hiring a virtual assistant for the tasks that you need help with most urgently. Completely train and find a groove with the first assistant before you hire a second. Make sure your second VA is settled in before you hire a third, and so forth. If you hire multiple virtual assistants simultaneously, it will be almost impossible to dedicate enough training time towards each. This can cause many frustrations for both you and your assistants, which means there is a good chance that these professional relationships will not work out.
Prioritize Vertical Skills
Virtual assistants with vertical skills possess specialized skills that are all in the same field. For instance, let's say you are looking for an assistant for handling customer support. It will be easier training someone who already has experience in the customer service industry than a website developer.
Take Tenure Into Consideration
When hiring a virtual assistant, it is advisable to consider how long candidates have stayed with previous companies. You want low turn-over as re-training is costly. A habit of short stays with prior employers indicates a potential issue with the virtual assistant. Either the VA does not like committing for long periods of time, or they have been let go due for not being reliable.
Conduct Situational Interviews
During interviews, do not ask candidates just to rattle off their qualifications and experiences. Ask situational questions, such as how they will work through different scenarios they may encounter during their job. The answers of these questions will allow you to pick out behavior patterns, whether good or bad. Example questions include:
- Describe a time that you and your employer had a misunderstanding. How did you handle it and prevent future misunderstandings?
- There are times in which urgent turnarounds are unavoidable. What is your take on this, and how will you approach these situations?
- How do you handle challenges in the workplace?
Clearly Communicate Expectations, Duties, and Pay
Before hiring a virtual assistant, whether it be your first or third, be sure to communicate expectations clearly. Ensure the candidate understands what is expected in the role, including various duties...the good and the bad. It would be best if you also discussed the hourly rates and the payment schedule.
When it comes to payment, there is always concern on both sides. Virtual assistants worry they will complete the work without getting paid. On the other hand, business owners worry they will pay, and then the virtual assistant will disappear without fulfilling the agreement. It is not advisable to pay for work ahead of time.
Instead, you can send an agreement as to the payment terms and pay weekly, to begin with. Once trust has been established, you can move the payment distribution to your desired schedule of bi-weekly or monthly. Make sure both of you are happy with the arrangement before finalizing the hiring process.
Tips for How to Managing Multiple Virtual Assistants
These tips will help you successfully manage your virtual assistant.
Comprehensive Training Program
Apart from making a good hire, training is the most important aspect of managing virtual assistants. It is unrealistic to think your VAs will be able to hit the ground running as soon as they are hired.
Take the time to help them learn the ins-and-outs of how your business operates—more than likely; you will have to walk them through each new task. As time goes on, they will become more and more independent. Even once your VAs are settled in, continue to provide valuable, updated resources they can refer to at any time.
When working with remote virtual assistants, it can be easy to forget that the person on the other end is a human being. Communicate with each VA as if you are all in the same office together.
A good rule of thumb is to have a video team meeting at least once a week. Some business owners may even hold meetings once a day to make sure everyone is on the same page. Hold meetings on a regular schedule, at the same time each day, so that it becomes a habit. Attendance at meetings should be mandatory.
Besides holding video meetings, make sure you are accessible through email or even text messages and phone calls to address any issues that will inevitably crop up.
Play to the strength of your virtual assistants by delegating tasks by role. For instance, if one of your VA's is more experienced in social media management, you should assign tasks to them that deal with social media marketing. It is advantageous to make sure each assistant is working within their wheelhouse. Keep in mind that you can teach virtual assistants new skills. However, it does not make sense to teach a virtual assistant a new skill that one of your other VAs already possesses.
Offer Growth Opportunities
There is value in a job that offers growth opportunities. Do your best to allow virtual assistants to grow and develop their skills. They are much more likely to stay with your company for a longer period of time if they feel they are getting an experience with value.
Utilize Project Management Tools
The ability for measuring and tracking your virtual assistants' productivity is the ultimate way of measuring success. You will need to adapt your metrics for the role of each VA. For instance, if a VA's responsibility is managing an email marketing campaign, you will want to measure the number of opens and conversions per email campaign. The metrics would be different for a VA who is responsible for customer support. Tracking and analyzing metrics can help you identify what is working and what needs improvement.
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