Many business owners find themselves confused about the process of hiring virtual staff, especially when aiming to make their first hire. Such confusion breeds imprecise decision-making, which can easily stifle the value of the virtual assistant as well as etch flaws into the foundation of your business’s profitability.
As a SocialMouths’ reader, you know that such outcomes are unacceptable because the most successful online entrepreneurs and small business owners always align optimum value to their business operations. The potential for suboptimal return on investment (ROI) leads many such entrepreneurs and small business owners to do everything yourself, or at least try to. But let’s be honest—you cannot do everything yourself if you want to grow your business.
The answer is to be proactive in your preparation for hiring a virtual staff member so that you’re confident you’re going to get the maximum amount of ROI out of that person’s contributions. Here’s how I approach making smart hiring decisions myself for pinnacle value. This model works so long as you commit to it. Let’s dig in.
What to Have Ready
Have you ever sat down and wrote out in detail exactly what you do every day? Probably not because our workflows and decisions-making parameters are ingrained in our brains. This is efficient and effective for you but gravely inadequate when it comes time to onboard your virtual staff member.
And guess what, much of what is in your head you probably don’t realize because it’s become so second nature to you. That’s why it’s essential to invest quality time writing or typing out exactly what you do, how you do it, and why. If you try to communicate all of this knowledge on the fly during the hiring process with an assistant, you’re almost guaranteed to overlook vital details that will sabotage the profitability of the virtual staff member’s value.
For example, most of us dance from email to WordPress to social media without ever being very cognizant of what processes and systems they’re using to get the work done. The overall picture is neglected. Thus, the nonnegotiable first step in preparing to capitalize on the value of a virtual assistant is to map out your work routine and triggers in acute detail. This roadmap will not only aid you in assessing whether a particular virtual assistant candidate has the skills you need for the tasks at hand, but also streamline the onboarding of the perfect staff member.
Start this workflow definition process by taking note of all the tasks you do on a daily basis. Then describe each task in terms of (1) the time it takes, (2) the systems or technologies involved, (3) any dependencies with other tasks, and (4) what other people [yourself included] may interface with that task. Also, take great pains to define when you need to approve something and when you don’t. Imprecise decision points are common weak links in the successful management of your virtual team members, meaning they undermine their maximum ROI to you and your business.
Here’s a consolidated recap of what you need to do:
In the run up to hiring a virtual assistant, identify all the daily tasks that you are doing and prioritize them. Aim to delegate the repetitive and unimportant tasks first.
Begin tracking the time you are spending on tasks during the day and find where you spend the most unproductive amounts of time. Add these times to your task list.
Compile a detailed document to share with your new assistant and include all the jobs you would like them to perform and instructions on how to do them.
If the virtual assistant will need passwords and logins include them in the document so as to save time.
The Hiring Process
Once you have completed a detailed task roadmap and created a PDF version of it, it’s time to start looking for that new member of staff. Begin by constructing a thorough job description with the credentials and requirements necessary to apply for the role. These details should align with the work described in your roadmap file.
Do not be afraid to be specific in your job description as this will deter candidates who do not meet the criteria. Look for candidates who have a work history consistent with the work you’re recruiting for as well as who have positive ratings and feedback from previous employers. The perfect virtual staff person should not need micromanaged because such micromanaging will drastically cut into the ROI of that staff member.
Ask relevant questions, listen to your gut, and pay close attention to candidate responses. Are they answering your questions and do they come across as the type of person that you would like on your team? Are their questions knowledgeable about the work items being described? Do they have work examples that demonstrate their commitment to proactiveness and a high sense of urgency? Do you get the impression that they’re self-motivated and eager? All of these qualities—both personal characteristics and work experience—shed invaluable insights into the probable profitability of the person’s contributions to your business.
When you make the decision to hire a particular candidate, make sure to set the expectation that they will be subjected to an initiation phase to see if, in fact, they’re up to the standards you require for the role. This trial period is valuable on both sides as it allows you and your assistant to honestly assess the work opportunity to ensure a mutually beneficial fit. When you ensure that your virtual assistant is experiencing maximum ROI for their needs, he or she will be all the more committed to helping you experience the maximum ROI you need from him or her.
Training a Virtual Assistant
Making a good hire isn’t good enough. To reap the most reward from your virtual staff member, you need to be committed to proper training. Many hiring business owners and managers fail to properly train their new staff member and are, for some reason, surprised later when that staff member’s contributions are suboptimal. Avoid undercutting your own ROI expectations by being devoted early and often to providing ample training to your virtual staff.
The trial period is a perfect opportunity to begin this training and see how your new hire reactions to that training. To the extent you can, systemize this training content in online resources that the virtual staff member can easily access at anytime from anywhere. This also lays valuable groundwork for future virtual staff hires because you’ll be able to grow and consistently leverage this knowledge-base of training material to promote consistency of understanding and execution to your standards. Such systems are valuable components into a maximized ROI equation.
Ensure the Personality-Fit
Sometimes a candidate is outstanding on paper and is fully skilled for the tasks at hand. Everything can be perfect, and yet he or she may still not be the right choice for your team due to a personality mismatch either with you and your style directly, or the nature and style of your business. The initial assessment period is also essential in this regard—to evaluate the person’s personality and how well it jibes with yours. Personality mismatches are one of the top causes of reduced profitability from team members. Don’t fall victim to this trap. Be clear and forthright about assessing personality fits.
Go Get ‘Em
Finding the ideal virtual assistant may take more time and effort than you originally anticipated, but the prep work and assessment due diligence is more than worth the investment because it’s precise the investments that yield the most return. Don’t rush the process; don’t risk making a poor decision because you weren’t committed to working hard yourself. Pick the candidate that ticks most of the boxes and feels to have the personality to boot. If you nail the hire and commit to a thorough onboarding process, you’ll start reaping maximum ROI from your virtual assistant before you know it.