15 Key Issues in Managing Virtual Assistants and How To Address Them

Jun 8, 2022

addressing key issues in managing virtual assistants

As they navigate the ins and outs of outsourcing, it’s not uncommon for some business owners to encounter issues in managing virtual assistants.

While there are resources like the Leverage community where people share best practices founded on their experiences, some common concerns can still arise from unique circumstances.

Read along to find out common issues encountered when managing virtual assistants, and how to address them effectively.

Key Issues in Managing Virtual Assistants

The following concerns may come up for different reasons, but proper action can easily help avoid bigger problems in the future.

1. Poor Communication

Poor communication, especially about task details, can often lead to deadlines being pushed back, or even failure to meet the desired output.

Sometimes, lack of communication may be the root cause of the problem. There may be different reasons as to why this happens between you and your virtual assistant, but it’s not impossible to work around this issue.

Start out by laying out how open communication lines are. During regular check-ins or training sessions, provide examples of how your virtual assistant can approach you for most anything work-related.

Setting clear boundaries on what can and cannot be discussed or how your instant messaging tool should be used can help your virtual assistant become more comfortable with bringing work concerns to your attention.

Short daily and weekly calls can also help build rapport and a habit of asking questions between yourself and your virtual assistant.

2. Low Productivity

A common concern among entrepreneurs who outsource to virtual assistants is addressing their expectations of their VA’s productivity.

Communication is central to finding out the root cause of an apparent lack or stagnation of productivity.

Managing virtual assistants requires trust, but also transparency, in implementing accountability. Whenever you start having doubts about your virtual assistant’s productivity, open up a conversation about it.

Gently remind them that deadlines aren’t being met and ask if expectations need to be reconsidered. Find time to collaborate on finding out causes and addressing them as best as possible.

Inquire if they’re having problems with certain tasks, if they need more time, or if it’s another issue affecting their productivity.

Help them reprioritize their tasks so that the important ones are never left behind. Ask them about the kind of support they want to have in moving forward with the solution you’ve come up with together.

Helping your virtual assistant bounce back from a lull in productivity doesn’t only reward your business with met deadlines, but also a highly motivated contributor to your team.

You can also employ timekeeping or time-tracking apps at work. Timedly is a time-tracking tool that comes for free when you hire virtual assistants from Virtudesk.

This can help continuously manage expectations and ensure accountability by recognizing breaks, and idle time, and getting timed screenshots of your virtual assistant’s virtual workspace.

3. Building Relationships

Great rapport can start even early on in the interview phase. However, deepening a relationship after hiring a virtual assistant can sometimes come as a challenge.

Having a great relationship with your virtual assistants presents multiple benefits throughout the growth of your business. 

They can be empowered to take on bigger responsibilities, gain foresight on possible issues, and most importantly proactively find the best ways to grow your business.

A trusty virtual assistant is a great asset to your company, and a great relationship is fundamental in finding them. Let them know when they’ve done a great job, and also ask them questions on matters they probably know more about.

Build rapport with your virtual assistant by checking in on their personal well-being during regular meetings. Find out their interests or share yours.

Having conversations on topics outside of work is a great way to know more about each other and build a friendly and professional relationship between yourself and your virtual assistant.

Managing virtual assistants include building a solid relationship with them as the foundation of great collaborations and work dynamic.

Doing so also contributes to building a positive working environment for you and the rest of your company.

4. Cultural Differences

Working with global talent comes with the added challenge of learning about each other’s cultures. This includes social cues and boundaries, communication nuances, and recognizing and addressing conflict.

This is a natural part of outsourcing and global hiring. Awareness is a key component of addressing cultural differences between you and your virtual assistants.

Take some time to learn more about your virtual assistant’s culture and introduce yours in return. Talk about national holidays, and personal traditions, and share some personal stories here and there.

Team-building activities are also a great way to identify and address cultural differences. Let them facilitate some activities and participate in the fun to know more about each other.

On a more professional level, you can let your virtual assistant facilitate some meetings so you can better observe how they receive suggestions and process information from other people.

If you have the time and resources, visit your virtual assistant’s country to really have an immersive experience in their culture.

Knowing more about your virtual assistant’s culture helps in building a solid relationship with them. This results in better work dynamics, and also introduces positive practices and traditions into your company culture.

key issues in managing virtual assistants

Common Concerns to Address in Managing Virtual Assistants

Here are more specific concerns you may find yourself also seeking answers to.

5. What Tasks Or Projects Did They Complete?

Finding out what your virtual assistant has accomplished in a day may seem like some form of micromanagement, but it isn’t.

Incorporating end-of-day and start-of-day reports can actually help them gauge their daily capacity and address areas of concern and improvement.

Avoid asking your virtual assistant every now and then about their tasks by having them share their to-do list at the beginning of their shift, and their daily accomplishment report before they clock out.

6. How Much Time Did They Spend On Each Task Or Project?

Want to know how much time your virtual assistant spends on their tasks? Try using a time-tracking tool like Timedly, or a project management tool like ClickUp, which has a time-keeping feature for tasks.

7. What Are They Still Working On?

Project management tools like ClickUp and Asana are useful in monitoring simultaneous tasks for all your employees.

With progress status features, you can easily check the status of ongoing projects and see what your virtual assistant is working on.

8. Did They Run Into Any Problems Or Challenges?

Checking in with your virtual assistants lets you find out if they encountered problems in accomplishing their tasks.

Moving forward, you can help them eliminate the causes of these problems or find alternative ways to accomplish tasks for them and your other staff members.

9. Do They Have Any Feedback, Questions, Or Ideas For You?

This matter can easily be addressed during daily and weekly meetings. You can also have your virtual assistant manage a feedback loop for questions and suggestions coming from everyone on your staff.

10. Do They See Work That Can Instead Be Automated?

Given the nature of their work, virtual assistants can be relied on for being tech-savvy. They can help you find workflows that can benefit from automation.

They can also help you optimize processes and increase productivity by maximizing your CRMs.

Just ask them if they’ve already seen areas of observation, or specifically delegate this project to them.

11. What Is Their Biggest Obstacle In Accomplishing Their Tasks On Time?

When addressing lulls in productivity or chronic tardiness of output, remember to find out the root cause.

This helps you and your virtual assistant find better ways to work on tasks, which will benefit not only the two of you but also the rest of your team and your future hires.

12. Which Tasks Are They Finding To Be The Most Challenging?

When gauging your virtual assistant’s scope of expertise, it’s always important to know which tasks present the biggest challenge for them.

This can help you figure out supplementary training material they might need, or if you need to hire more virtual assistants.

Take this opportunity to see which tasks they find easiest and if they see an opportunity to optimize the process or expand it into a bigger project.

13. Will The Time Difference Affect Their Productivity?

The timezone difference can be a massive issue for some virtual assistants. This makes it important to ask this question during the interview phase.

Feel free to check in on your virtual assistant’s time availability again in the future, especially when daylight savings begin or end. You may want to consider giving them a flexible schedule, so they can be happier, healthier, and more productive in their role.

14. How Do I Hold My Virtual Assistant Accountable?

End-of-day reports, time-keeping, project management platforms, and open communication all contribute to a culture of accountability in a company.

The same works for outsourcing tasks to virtual assistants. This is also not an issue for seasoned virtual assistants who will proactively present systems that enforce accountability in their work.

With Virtudesk, you also have Account Managers who will help you manage your work dynamic with your virtual assistants, and time-tracking software that helps in keeping them accountable for their output and the security of your data.

15. How Do I Address Low Expertise Or Skills With My Virtual Assistant?

Continuous training is key in making sure your virtual assistants can keep up with the growing demands of your business.

As you grow as an entrepreneur, so should your virtual assistant as a key contributor to your business. Take the time to find out gaps in their skill, and find supplementary training to address that.

Virtudesk virtual assistants have access to a specialized learning resource and continuous training sessions from the company, allowing them to gain new skills as they work for your business.

Outsourcing to Virtudesk Virtual Assistants

Outsourcing to virtual assistants comes with a long list of benefits including cost-effectiveness. 

Choosing Virtudesk virtual assistants means getting even more benefits like a streamlined billing process, access to Account Managers, virtual assistant replacements, and more.

You can join the Leverage community and ask for the opinions of other entrepreneurs who outsource to virtual assistants.

If you’d like to start outsourcing tasks to virtual assistants from Virtudesk, feel free to fill out this form so one of our Consultants can get in touch with you.

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