Your Filipino virtual assistant is like the rest of us—an imperfect human being. If you expect this person to be a superstar from day one, you’ve set your sights a bit high, and you’ll no doubt be disappointed.
But that doesn’t mean that in time your VA can’t completely astound you with off-the-charts good work.
Imagine the luxury of having a competent, hard-working, ambitious, trustworthy and dependable VA attending to the day-to-day tasks of your business, allowing you to concentrate on other things and work less.
Here are few examples of experiences I’ve had with VAs that illustrate the great things they’ve done and can do for you:
Your VA will learn new skills and make tremendous strides
One of the most satisfying parts of being a business owner is seeing your employees embrace the challenge of tackling new assignments and coming through with great success. A rock-star VA is someone who will progress consistently to the point where you can count on the worker to accomplish just about anything you ask.
To illustrate this point, let me tell you about a VA who a few years back demonstrated an incredible knack for increasing his knowledge and abilities as I needed him to complete various tasks. This VA had a few skills, but through hard work and a willingness to learn, he developed a strong competency for a number of programs and tools.
Knowing this man had some graphics skills, I initially hired him to work on a car insurance website. The going was slow. He didn’t like to send daily updates. It was hard for me at first, but I was patient. One day he sent me an amazing update. He had been working the whole time; he just wasn’t telling me because he wasn’t sending daily updates (which was very frustrating). The site was completed, and he did a pretty good job.
From there I worked closely with him and taught him WordPress so he could do some work on my Jonasblog site. When we started, he knew nothing about WordPress, but after some guidance, he quickly became proficient. Now, he’s an expert and can easily create plug-ins and responsive themes.
The progress didn’t stop there, but neither did the difficulties. Next, I had him work on building a tool which pulled data from a Microsoft website. It took him FOREVER!!! There was a period of months where he avoided talking to me about it. I was so frustrated because I thought it was a pretty simple thing I had asked him to do. It turned out that it was impossible to do what I had asked him to with the tools I had given him. This is where he became a rock-star for me. I had asked for a web-based tool (which was impossible). A few months later, he came to me with a Windows program he had written that worked exactly as I wanted. He went and learned a new programming language (C#) so he could complete the task I was pushing him on! ROCK-STAR!!!
We then moved on to things he had no idea how to do. But by simply providing some direction on where and how to do these things, he met the tasks head on and thrived. He learned the codeigniter framework, built the initial version of OnlineJobs.ph, learned Linux and server administration, and learned GitHub, which helps our programmers work better together.
This VA also made amazing progress in his ability to speak and write in English. When I first hired him, it was difficult to have telephone conversations. As time when on, his English improved significantly. This week he told me “It’s really hilarious because I know my English sucks but you still published it on your blog. Hehe.” Today, communicating with him is easy.
Your Filipino virtual assistants are bound to frustrate you with mistakes. As you diligently work with them, however, and assist them in overcoming shortcomings and setbacks, and as you help them progress through assignments and master new skills, they can become the rock-star VAs you’ve always hoped to have. This is what happened in the above example, and it can happen with you and your VAs, too.
Your VA will do something better than you thought it could be done
A few years ago, I gave one of my Filipino workers a marketing task. I gave this person very specific instructions and carefully laid out the project in the way I thought it would best be accomplished. I explained how often to do the project, how to write it and what websites to use as resources. Then I cut him loose to go to work.
At first, I would receive daily updates from this person on how the project was coming along. After six months, however, the updates stopped. I was concerned. Often, someone in my shoes would become frustrated at the lack of communication and follow-through and would want to fire the employee. I decided not to let him go but instead was able to connect with him and find out why he had seemingly disappeared. His explanation was actually typical of the attitudes and the mindset that Filipinos have. The reason why he had stopped updating me was that he had found a better way to accomplish the project, but he was afraid that if he told me that, I would be upset at him for doing the work differently than I had told him and that I would fire him.
Fortunately, I was patient with him to find out what was keeping him from providing updates. I was then amazed when I saw that he had taken the initiative to do his own research and figure out if he made some adjustments to the steps he was taking and methods he was using, he could accomplish the task more effectively. I was thrilled, and to reward him for taking the project far above my expectations, I gave him a $100 bonus. He continued to do tremendous work.
A key component of training someone to be a rock star VA is being patient with them. I was patient in this particular example, and it paid off for both of us.
Your VA will be proactive
Initially, your VA might be passive and need some hand-holding and a lot of direction. But as your worker becomes a rock-star, they’ll start to go above and beyond their regular call of duty without even being asked.
Once, I discovered that one of my workers had taken it upon himself to create a fan page for onlinejobs.ph. The page had more than 1,000 “likes.” I hadn’t asked this worker, or anyone else, to create this page, yet he recognized the value and potential it had for the business. He turned his proactive efforts into a resounding success. Today the page has over 100,000 likes.
I had been working closely with this VA and had taught him many things. Once he had proven able to produce excellent work, I allowed him to take the lead on different projects. Because of his progress and my trust in him, he was able to think outside the box and create this fan page. I thanked this worker for thinking beyond the normal scope of his duties. For his work, I sent him a $50 bonus.
Your VA can come up with solutions to problems
As a business owner, you should always be available to help your Filipino VA with any questions or concerns they have. This is one of the keys to creating rock-star workers. Don’t let it bother you when your worker is struggling with an issue, and always give assistance when needed.
But it’s even better when your VA can find his or her own answers. This is exactly what rock-star VAs will do.
On another occasion, I asked the VA from the first example to create an account for someone in one of our sites. I forgot to provide him with all the information he needed to create this account; I only gave him the person’s name. My VA sent a quick email (while I was asleep), explaining that he needed this person’s email address in order to complete the account creation. Just a few minutes later, he sent another email saying that he had Googled the person’s name and found the email address on his own.
What an example of not waiting around for me to come to the rescue! This worker had the presence of mind to take care of the situation on his own, and he did so quickly and efficiently. He, too, got a $50 bonus for doing this.
Meredith Bell, a behavior change expert, agrees that employees who learn how to solve problems on their own become tremendous assets to their employers. She said when employers show support for their employees, these workers feel empowered and gain more appreciation for their bosses.
She points out, “As you guide others to figure things out for themselves through the questions you ask, their self-confidence will grow. They’ll see themselves as capable and effective, and their trust and respect for you will deepen.”
Your VA can produce consistent high-quality work
I have one worker in particular who has stood out as a tremendous asset to my business. He is a definite rock-star. What has made him so good? From the beginning, he was simply diligent. That’s all he started with: no skills, no knowledge. He was simply responsive to my emails and was very detail oriented, which are two things I look for in a VA. As we began working together, I taught him many new concepts and skills, such as how to build websites and how to do marketing for them. He took the things I taught him and added to them. He then started doing projects without being told. Today, he comes up with innovative ideas to enhance the projects I assign him. He thinks things through logically, creatively and thoroughly. His work is always top-notch. He is fantastic. He demonstrates consistent work. To show my appreciation, I gave him a well-deserved pay raise from $450 a month to $750 a month.
How can your VA be like those in these examples?
Perfection is not achievable, but there are proven and feasible methods to developing rock-star VAs. As you implement the following practices and habits with your VA, he or she will be capable of exemplary work.
Teach and Train
On onlinejobs.ph, you’ll find plenty of candidates who are smart and willing to work hard. You’ll find people with positive attitudes and the ability to learn new skills. Unfortunately, most Filipinos lack the experience in many fields in which U.S. workers have years of experience.
The good news is, with proper, consistent training, you can teach your VA just about anything.
Training begins the first day you hire a Filipino VA, but it doesn’t end there. You’ll teach and train your VA on a skill and then move on to the next skill once the VA has mastered the first. In time, you’ll have a well-rounded VA that can handle virtually any task you assign.
Don’t hold back on the details
Remember, these people are new to your business; they’re not experts like you. Especially at the beginning, VAs will need you to be explicitly clear about how to complete tasks.
When assigning a project, it’s crucial to provide as many details as possible. Avoid being vague or general in your instruction. Instead, give your VA step-by-step guidance and give them all the information they need to successfully accomplish whatever it is you are asking them to do.
When you are detailed, your VA will approach their assignments with confidence excitement. If you fail to do these things, the opposite will occur: you may lose your VA altogether.
This is the No. 1 factor in helping someone become a rock-star.
Employers often think ,“How do I know I can trust them?” This is the wrong way of thinking about Filipino workers. The correct question is, “How do I get them to trust me?”
When VAs don’t trust you, they’re scared to go above and beyond what you ask for fear that you won’t like it. They don’t want to tell you when there’s a problem for fear of you being upset with them. They won’t suggest ideas to you out of worry that you won’t like the ideas and will think they’re stupid.
When VAs trust you, they believe they are capable of successfully completing any assignment you give them. When they trust you, VAs won’t become frustrated with difficult tasks or roadblocks.
You can foster a climate of trust by doing some of the following:
- Give praise. Filipinos flourish on being praised. Always find something positive to tell them about what they did. If everything is wrong, tell them “Thank you for working hard on this.”
- Don’t blame them. Often, employers look at how a project went wrong and blame the worker for everything. They never look at themselves and the possibility that they didn’t do what was necessary for their Filipino worker to succeed. When something goes wrong, the first place to look is at yourself.
- Don’t just talk a big game—play a big game. In other words, walk the talk. Raw-raw speeches can inspire and motivate, but these will wane in effectiveness if you don’t back up what you preach and show you’re a great leader through your actions. And by actions, I mean help them. Do some research yourself on what you’re asking them to do. Find something to help them learn.
- Be Patient. Sometimes things just take longer than you expect.
- Take an active part and interest in their development and success. If your VA is successful, you will be successful in your business. Give them work that you know will build their skills and allow them to thrive.
- Help them succeed. Filipinos thrive on success. Help them succeed at a task, and their confidence will grow. Help them succeed at a task and their trust in you will grow. Repeat this over and over and soon you’ll have created a rock-star worker.
Compliment and give constructive feedback, as appropriate
You’ll be amazed at how performance will improve when you shower your VA with praise for hard work and accomplishments. Show appreciation for the good things they do. Of course, you don’t have to go overboard and be gushy just for the sake of being nice, but compliments go a long ways in the Filipino culture.