Virtual assistant with laptop

DO’s and DON’Ts to Achieve and Retain the Best Virtual Assistants

7/11/ 2022   |   USource Team  |   Freelancers

Keep them once you’ve got them! Virtual assistants can and do leave bad managers. Here’s the lowdown on the DOs and DON’Ts so that your freelancers are loyal to you.

DO: Make a plan
All virtual assistants love goals and deadlines. It makes expectations and timelines organized. Give them something specific or something regular, or have them assess the job and tell you when they can complete it– and stick to that.

Some clients make a game plan and calendar but neglect the budget. Not good. You only get what you pay for. Pay nicely and you get great work. Pay peanuts and you get… not much.

DON’T: Micromanage
Don’t micromanage
Most adults have experienced going to an office, and there’s no one worse than a superior who breathes down your neck constantly.

Create a regular meeting time: ten minutes every day, one hour every week– take your pick, as needed for the task. Let your virtual assistants do their job. You hired them because they’re skilled and talented, didn’t you? Let them use their skills and talent then!

Freelancers usually prefer autonomy. They became freelancers because THEY CAN work without supervision and spoon-feeding. They’d submit, they’d take your feedback and edit. Sit back and do something else. This is why you outsource: you multiply your time!

DO: Create a positive environment
Create positive environment
Establish good workplace communication. Let your virtual assistant know you’re reachable and they can approach you with their questions, ideas, and concerns. Schedule one-on-one meetings to connect with them more.

Consistent exchange of feedback helps improve their performance and builds trust in the process. Observe the challenges your virtual assistant faces daily, then talk to them about it and develop a collaborative plan to address the issue.

DON’T: Tolerate work discrimination
No discrimination
55% have experienced discrimination at their current company, while 80% experienced discrimination while working remotely.

Any virtual assistant, or employee on that matter, wants fair treatment despite differences. The best way to eliminate workplace discrimination is to be strict on company policies on toxic cultures.

Communicating online has its disadvantages, i.e. too much freedom to speak your mind to the point where it hurts others. Implement rules on language and sensitivity to create a healthy remote work culture.

DO: Acknowledge your freelancers
Acknowledge your freelancers
Yes, your payment turns into food, but I mean little canapes of appreciation and a regular dose of no-pressure. Feedback is essential. Let your virtual assistants know they’re doing good. You don’t have to sing their praises every week, but a reminder now and then, that they’re essential, is good for their souls.

Often, virtual assistants have more than one job– the job with the appreciative client is their favorite.

DON’T: Limit their role
Don’t limit roles
The RSA’s (the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts) What Drives US video reveals a stunning but always-been-there fact: humans are not motivated by money.

What keeps us moving and engaged in all the things we love to do are: a sense of autonomy, the challenge of mastery, and purpose.

Autonomy is already taken care of–freelancers are self-directed, and that’s why many of us love freelancing. And doing the things we do and getting prompts, challenges, and leads from our clients make us better. That’s mastery.

As for the contribution/purpose part, that’s on you.

Sure, your freelancers are individuals who should and would certainly cultivate something themselves. But even as you plan and outline and map out every move and every eventuality in your startup, create an SOP that’s not so much ‘standard’ as dynamic, practices that fuel creativity in your freelancers. Let them contribute. Let them build alongside you.

DO: Support their mental well-being
Care for your employees
91% of employees believe that a company should advocate for mental health. A good virtual manager checks up on employees’ well-being, especially remote employees who are isolated from the team.

Your virtual assistant may not be complaining about burnout or anxiety, but checking up on them is a good way to show that you care as you want to work with them for the long haul.

Benefits of Retaining your Virtual Assistant

Outsourcing tasks to virtual assistants is indeed helpful in keeping your business agile. Thus, you want to keep them working for you instead of hiring and training freelancers again.

Here are some benefits of retaining your virtual assistants.

Save time and effort

A virtual assistant that has worked with your team for a considerable amount of time already knows your goals and expectations. They are now aware of your standards, so you don’t need to double- or triple-check their work.

Unlike hiring and training new freelancers, you don’t have to explain everything to your existing virtual assistants as they’re already used to how your team does things.

Increase productivity

When you retain virtual assistants, they eventually become more productive– they are more familiar with your business operations and your team, which allows them to finish tasks more quickly.

Other concrete examples are:

  • When they get clear instructions, they work with little to no supervision needed
  • The quality of their work is aligned with your standards
  • Communication gets better as you establish good working relationships
  • They are adept with the tools your team use
  • They are knowledgeable about your business, so you feel secure assigning additional tasks to them

Maintain business agility

Anytime a virtual assistant or any employee leaves the company, business is affected. First, your hiring team will have to start over to find the ideal assistant, and second, you’ll have to onboard or train the new employee.

Retaining your virtual assistants saves you from this dilemma. You can rely on them to keep the business going as they already know what tasks to do and how to do them.

Your business won’t be disrupted by hiring processes and learning curves.

Virtual assistants may be freelancers at the start and you expect them to leave you anytime soon, but if you manage them well, they might just be the asset your business needed all this time.

Remember that a good virtual manager attracts virtual assistants– and great work management retains them.