Ask anyone what the hardest part of their job is, and they always say the same thing: “Managing staff!”
So it’s no surprise that managing your virtual staff poses some extra challenges along the way. Since your Virtual Assistant is, well, virtual, (or perhaps “remote” is a better term, as they are just not present in your office), it’s important to take extra steps to ensure they:
- Understand what’s expected of them
- Know how you want things to be done
- Communicate openly with you about the challenges they face
While your virtual team might be great at bookkeeping, copywriting or graphic design, without leadership, your team could very well fall apart!
So what are some of the things that you can do when managing your PA that can help to ensure that they are engaged employees? Read on to find out!
Be a leader as well as a boss
Showing leadership to your VA is vital for your VA to understand what their role is and how they can contribute to the organisation. This means:
- Communicating your vision and educating on the direction of the organisation
- Inspiring your staff
- Motivating your staff
This is a key factor in ensuring your VA works towards the same goals as the organisation, and it’s your job to ensure this happens.
I recently met a client that said once they train their staff, they can just let them work, and they will check in once a month to see how its going.
Talk about a recipe for failure!
Like any other staffing decision, your Virtual Assistants need to be engaged and aligned to your business objectives, or else the outsourcing exercise will fail.
Treat them as you treat your Australian-based staff
This seems self-explanatory, but treating your staff equally will allow staff to treat each other equally. No-one likes being thought of as the “other.” When using virtual staff, that means not treating your VAs as “extras” who somehow aren’t involved in the success of your business.
Team meetings should include the virtual team, so they too can feel part of the company.
Birthday celebrations in Melbourne are matched with birthday celebrations offshore, when it’s anyone’s birthday. The same applies to time-off for public holidays, salary increases, bonuses etc. This ensures the team will work as a cohesive unit.
Treat your virtual staff equally, as part of your local team, and they will repay you with hard work and dedication in spades.
Establish rules for communication
It can be really hard to get work done when your staff are always walking into your office asking a variety of questions. I have worked with a rule that when my door is closed, I want peace and quiet, but when my door is open, feel free to come in.
So when I need to focus, I close the door and get my work done.
The same applies to your VAs – set a rule for communication that helps both of you maximise productivity, and know that there will always be a time each day for communication.
If you are not available to your VA for long periods of time, like days that become weeks, productivity will drop off.
Praise them and listen to feedback
We all need to be praised from time to time, and this is even more important to virtual staff who are remote.
They need the praise to know they are appreciated and that their work product is of value to the company, especially as they are not in the office.
So praise them, talk to them, and don’t be shy to reward them.
One of my clients recently advised his virtual assistant to go out for dinner with her husband and submit the receipt for reimbursement. It did not cost much, but it was a thanks for hard work, and much appreciated.
Filipino staff are not often asked for their opinion, so when they give feedback, take it on board.
Show them that their feedback is valued, and if it’s worthwhile, take the necessary steps to action the feedback. But if you can’t action the feedback, explain to them why not, and make them feel included. A little bit of communication can go a long way.
Set realistic goals and clear expectations
Instead of swamping them with the entire workload, take it slowly and ease your new staff into their workload.
Be realistic, and always tell them what’s expected of them. I like to I always ask them how long they think a task will take them. If they say 2 hours, I hold them to that time frame, as they set it themselves. But I never give them a task, without asking: “How long will this take you?”
They are empowered by the timeframe they set!
Need virtual staff? Start with the Melbourne Virtual Staffing experts
Make no mistake, managing a virtual team takes a different skill-set than managing your local staff. Take some of these simple suggestions on board for a more effective virtual team – and a more effective on-site team too!
If you think you’d be a great manager to virtual staff and want to discuss how you would like to take advantage of virtual staff in your business, feel free to call me on 0402 116 606.