Everyone who uses VAs on somewhat consistent basis has been burned at some point, and I am no different. In fact, a few years ago I had hired a VA to work on SEO. Initially her work was good but at some point it became spotty, and eventually, downright bad. As it turned out, she had “outsourced” her job to her 9-year-old son. Apparently she thought kindergarten was enough of an education to tackle the job. While this story might seem shocking, it is not unique, and after you have been burned once or twice, it can be easy to fall into a trap of micromanaging.
While staying closely on the top of your VA’s work might seem necessary, in the end of a day you just want to ensure that you are getting what you pay for, it is quickly become bad for both your working relationship and your overall bottom line.
Do you think you aren’t guilty of micromanaging? Ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you often find yourself frustrated because your VA didn’t do exactly what you told them?
- Do you spend a lot of time making corrections and cleaning up your VAs deliverables?
- Do you notice that nothing that your VA does is good enough?
- Do you need to know exactly where your VA is and what they’re working on?
- Do you need frequent and detailed updates?
- Does it always take your VA longer to do the task then it should or would’ve been if you’d done it yourself.?
- Do you spend a lot of time reconciling timesheets and deliverables?
- Do you prefer to be cc’d on all emails?
- Do you think that getting a VA was a bad idea?
If you answered “Yes” to 3 or more questions in this list, chances are you are micro-managing your VA. If you said “Yes” more than 5 times, then I need to tell you that you, my friend, are a micro-manager without a doubt and you will lose some really great employees if you don’t stop. Alas, while this is great advice, it is not easy for many of us to instantly stop micromanaging. So just take it easy and start letting go one piece at the time.
Micromanagement is broadly frowned upon – it can stifle the creativity of your employees, ruin their productivity, and build tension. In fact, in most instances it completely defeats the purpose of having a VA in the first place. The good news is that you can learn to stay on top of their work while still remaining a happy, self-proclaimed control freak without continuing down the path of being a micromanager.
Here are some better ways to keep track of your VA’s quality of work without micromanaging:
- That is where content outsourcing comes in.Establish some metrics or Key Performance Indicators and check them on an ongoing basis.
- Spot check their work instead of checking it all. That works for many industries where cost of error is far higher than in your case.
- Checking them non stop just to keep them on their toes? Give your VA a surprise audit. This approach achieves the same result while taking up much less of your time.
- Have one VA check another VA, but only if they are from different companies/regions.
- Use built-in tools such as Workview on Elance or screen capture on oDesk
If you have to consider a single rule it should be that your VA should be a valued member of your team and they should be treated that way. If you really can’t trust them to get the work done without spending the time micromanaging them, they aren’t worth keeping around.
What are your thoughts on micromanaging a VA? How do you stay on top of your VA without micromanaging? Please share your thoughts in the comments below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.