Being able to employ someone brings a kind of joy: it frees you up to do other things, and it is exciting to see the idea become a reality. However, not all hiring experiences will be the same. For this reason, we have created this simple guide to making communications with virtual assistants easier. It is based on our experiences and practical advice for communicating without face to face meetings.
Whether you’re hiring a virtual assistant on Upwork or elsewhere, this article will get you started.
We’ll start with these three points:
- Clearer communication techniques and tools. When words just don’t convey the full meaning of what you need done.
- Resolving conflicts with assistants. Maintaining professionalism in emails around stressful situations.
- Cancelling orders politely. Sometimes it is best to part in peace when the work isn’t being done right.
If you’re looking for places to post a job and hire a freelance virtual assistant, writer or programmer — try Upwork.com.
Use PDF guides
To create a PDF, simply go to Save As in your Word document, then select in the drop down “PDF” format.
Your virtual assistant will benefit from having the instructions laid out clearly in a PDF download file.
Create a Video Walkthrough
Written instructions may result in misunderstanding when communicating a project and its requirements. A simple screen recorder can do a lot to explain how to do a set of complex tasks. As the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words “.
A video walk through is worthwhile because although it may take you 1 hour to make short, clear and easy to understand – it will save hours of frustration and lost time to misunderstanding, confusion and emails back and forth about project requirements.
Highlighting with Snipping Tool
We use the snipping tool on a fairly regular basis. It’s in Windows 7 as standard software – go to start bar, type in “snipping tool” and drag a shortcut to your desktop bar. It has a highlight feature that makes it easy to show your virtual assistant what needs done.
Back to Basics: MS Paint
We also use MS paint to make quick tutorials. The box tool and the line tool are excellent ways to outline steps or items on the screencap. Pick a bright color, like red, and guide your virtual assistant using lines, boxes, and numbers.
Simpler instructions are always better than zig zagging lines, dozens of numbered boxes and confusing, large keys.
Asking for Corrections Politely
When emailing your VA for a correction, be as polite and positive as you can be. If you can’t be polite, use your simplest language to convey 1) the correct actions required of the assistant 2) you are professional and willing to work with them. Lastly, be sure to remain calm and patient – you don’t know their circumstances and difficulties; some of my assistants have been ill and needed extra time to meet a deadline. Others speak a different language, or have other difficulties.
- Hiring a virtual assistant that doesn’t speak English fluently is an unpleasant experience for both the project owner and the contractor.
- Hiring a higher priced virtual assistant might result in a better quality relationship, if the contractor is highly motivated to win your praise.
Hiring Virtual Assistant Pros and Cons
- More time to devote to other projects and family.
- Less strain and stress due to multitasking.
- Potential to grow a site or project much faster and with better quality, given the right contractor.
- Automation of a complex online business.
- Increased cost.
- Miscommunication due to language or understanding problems.
- Some management still required.
Politely Cancel the Order
Some contractors just can’t complete the job as required. This can be frustrating to the point of angering you – but we still don’t know their circumstances and difficulties.
- “I’m sorry, I would like to discontinue work on this project with you. Please cancel this order.”
- “Please forgive me, I am going to try another assistant for this task. Regards,”
- “Thank you for your assistance. However, at this time I believe it would be best for me to discontinue our arrangement. Professional regards,”
Remember you don’t have to hire a virtual assistant. You can do the work yourself if you can’t find a responsible and skillful person.
Dealing with Frustration
Some virtual assistance can drive us up a wall. “Why don’t they read the instructions? Wasn’t I clear with them?”
Regardless of their failure to meet expectations of the job, we should still maintain our professionalism and calm. Consider instead another task that can be attended to or jot down a list of ways to improve communication.
Again, perhaps the marketplace you chose has too few English speakers who are capable? Seek a more reputable environment for hiring English speaking assistants.
By leaving frustration, we can instead focus on removing obstacles and the causes of frustration through understanding.
If you are too frustrated, even fuming, it’s time to go do something to put yourself at ease. When you’re calm, you will be able to act more positively and productively.
A simple way to show a contractor gratitude for a job well done is to say “Thank you” and use polite phrases like “Please” and “Forgive me”. This and being flexible with your contractor will enable you to have smooth and friendly transactions. While tipping an additional amount can be beneficial to your contractor, it can be even more heartwarming to relate to one another in non-work related conversation.
While hiring virtual assistance is a benefit to the website owner, if ill-prepared – it can be troublesome and frustrating for both parties. We hope this guide benefits you –your endeavors and your virtual assistants.
The two have to work together by communicating clearly. By being prepared with clear instructions – whether they be video walkthroughs or PDF downloads – and a calm heart, you will be able to face the diverse challenges in contracting out your projects on the web.
- How to find freelancers for your business on Upwork. http://foundersguide.com/how-to-find-freelancers-for-your-business-in-upwork/
- Outsourcing: Hiring Freelancers in Upwork for your Business. http://wplift.com/how-to-work-with-freelancers
- Freelancer Tips for Using Upwork for Hourly Jobs. http://sixfigurewritingsecrets.com/freelancer-tips-for-using-upwork-for-hourly-jobs/
Comment starter: What words of advice could you share with someone who has never hired via services like Upwork.com or Fiverr?