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15 Tips for Effectively Managing Your Virtual Employee



The rewards of having technology as an ally have encouraged the emergence of a unique kind of personnel: the virtual employee. From outsourcing IT to personal assistants, these virtual assistants and remote workers are becoming more and more accessible to small businesses and home-based businesses everywhere.

Although a virtual employee can be a stand-alone think tank, supervising him or her to further raise the bar productivity-wise may be quite tricky. Here are fifteen guidelines smart virtual employee managers practice to consistently acquire favorable and optimum results:

  1. Carefully evaluate the project - The more familiar you are with the goals you want to achieve, the easier it is to formulate a plan to reach your goals trouble-free. First, make a list of goals. Then make a list of the corresponding tasks for meeting these goals.


  2. Determine which skill sets the project requires - Make it a point to expertly delegate specific tasks to the most suitable virtual employee. For instance, it is not a good decision to assign mathematical computations to virtual personnel who are much more adept at literary work and vice versa. Successfully pulling off a project requires an intelligent matching of tasks and staff.


  3. Identify the obstacles that may be encountered - Knowing what you want to achieve is one thing, but recognizing the elements that you need to steer clear of is another. Being familiar with these things can save you precious time and money in the long run, as well as preventing your virtual employee's efforts going to waste.


  4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate - Steady contact with your virtual employee is a must to verify what areas need the most supervision. Thus, whatever problems that surface early along the way may be solved immediately without turning into a major dilemma in the future. Aside from having an update with regard to the status of the project, this also optimistically encourages an affirmative relationship between virtual employer and virtual employee.


  5. Make a written agreement of expected duties and responsibilities - All tasks should be recorded in black and white as a reminder of what particular employment obligations should be prioritized. Avoid relying on memory alone, as well as casual verbal arrangements, since these can be overlooked easily.


  6. Put together a sensible timeline - Being a good manager means sticking to a smart timetable. Projects can end up in trouble if the designated tasks are carried out in a hurry. Conversely, problems can happen if the given assignments are taking too long to finish. Try making a daily and weekly to-do list.


  7. Leverage your virtual employee's strengths - Success depends on working with the right employee in the first place. Designating tasks to him or her will be a breeze if you are familiar with what areas your virtual employee is excellent in, as well as where he or she requires improvement.


  8. Start small - Never give your virtual employee a complicated task as an initial assignment. Unexpected stumbling blocks may emerge while the project is carried out, which can be quite difficult for him or her to fully comprehend or easily solve. Smart managers gradually increase the complexity of their virtual employee's workload after continuous comprehensive assessments and methodical training.


  9. Set up a proficient monitoring strategy - Make it a point to keep an eye on the progress of the assignments you delegate to your virtual personnel. However, keeping track of things does not mean constantly giving your staff a call. This may hamper your virtual employee's concentration and overall productivity. Try giving your employee a task, checking on them mid-day, and then checking on them again at the end of the work day.


  10. Use constructive criticism when addressing issues - A manager needs to be an ace of tact: setbacks should be discussed professionally and in a courteous manner. Acting crudely when dealing with project concerns can be counterproductive to the employer-employee relationship, ultimately throwing progress off track. When criticizing employees, be specific. Remember to tell the employee what he or she is doing right.


  11. Consult your lawyer - Safeguard yourself by having a legal representative review your contract. Have your lawyer explain each party's obligations. Formally documenting expectations can save trouble in the long run.


  12. Add a personal touch - Your relationship with a virtual employee may always be digital. Remembering birthdays, saying please and thank you, and asking about family are simple things you can do to enhance the virtual employer-virtual employee relationship.


  13. Practice makes perfect - First time managing a virtual employee? Expect things to be a little bumpy the first one to three weeks. Start with an orientation, assign a specific set of tasks, offer feedback, and repeat. As you come to understand your employee's personality, strengths, and style, your role as manager should get easier.


  14. Be Aware of Cultural Differences - Your VA may reside in another country. Are you prepared to deal with the Chinese New Year, a Filipino "yes", or the Indian circular head nod? Be aware of these cultural nuances when hiring overseas talent. If you are not familiar with these cultural differences, be sure to ask an expert.


  15. Provide Training - Virtual employees may come with strong backgrounds and skill sets, but will need orientation and training on the particulars of your business. Take the time to invest in additional training. Schedule an orientation session. Provide examples. Your employee will not become an expert in one day, especially if the work is complicated or involves a particular niche topic. This is especially true for small businesses, which may not have processes or training in place.


Managing a virtual staff is easier said than done. It can be tricky at first but once you get the hang of it, supervising your virtual employee will become easier. Remember: patience, training, and communication will go a long way in building a successful virtual team. Start following these pointers now and begin your journey to become an effective virtual manager.
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