Most freelancers from overseas will do great work for you. However, there always will be a bad apple among them from time to time. Read our advice from real experiences, how to handle virtual assistants with bad business ethics.
What bad stuff can happen
I had a personal assistant from India over several years. He knew a lot of personal information about me and we worked together very closely, more like friends than having an employer-employee relationship.
That was a mistake.
After some time he knew that he could ask for whatever he wanted and I was almost forced to go along with it. Because he knew how much I needed him for personal stuff which I outsourced, he started over charging me and asking unrealistic demands.
When I met my limits, I had to fire him. And we weren’t on very good terms after that.
A virtual assistant can stop working for you without any further notice. The only notice you will receive if you hire a worker via oDesk is a note that the contractor has left your team.
Don’t be surprise if that happens. It happened for me when I outsourced a very simple picture research task for a very modest amount of money. Probably after getting hired, this female freelancer decided that the job wasn’t worth awhile and she simply cut ties with me.
That can happen and it shouldn’t surprise you. Just be prepared to repeat the interview process again.
Miss commitment- over committing and not delivering at all
I had two cases where this happened.
In the first case I was looking for a virtual assistant that could speak and write English. I found a lady from the US who applied to me and went through a very thorough interviewing process.
I was thrilled because I found someone who I could use as a personal assistant with German language knowledge at a very, very competitive price. I didn’t care at that point that she didn’t have any oDesk history.
The emails we exchanged prior to working were also very long, so I knew she was committed. When I started working with her, I suddenly never heard of her again.
No matter how much I wrote her, she wouldn’t reply.
The second case where this happened was when I worked together with a personal assistant from the Philippines. She was doing a great job for me and we had a great working experience over almost a year.
After difference of opinions – I cannot even call it a fight – she stopped responding to my emails.
That’s when I learned the hard way that you have to treat many virtual workers from the Philippines extra carefully.
Another case of very bad business ethics is when a provider outsources the work you give to him further to other freelancers who you don’t even know without telling you.
Luckily this hasn’t happen to me or I didn’t find out about it. This is a real danger and you have to make sure that your private information or sensible data cannot land in false hands.
How to prevent bad experiences with your VA
Preparation is the key to avoid having a bad experience. Before hiring a virtual assistant, do your homework. Pre-screen each candidate very thoroughly, check their previous feedback.
That would tell you a lot about their attitude towards work. Then start out by giving them a very small test task. If for any reason your worker does not follow through, you haven’t lost much time. You can use the same test task over and over again.
If you are working with a virtual assistant for some time now, challenge him from time to time. Give him a piece of work that is a little bit harder. This will teach you a lot how your virtual assistant works under pressure.
Always and regularly check his work diary. Make use of the work diary that is provided by oDesk. Also let your virtual assistant know that you are regularly checking his work diary. This will keep him on his toes and focused on his work.
Ask for daily email updates. Insist that your virtual assistant lets you know about the progress of his work daily. Even if he does not have any work from you or does not do any work insist that he writes to you that what work he has done and what work he hasn’t done and for which reasons.
This will keep you in the mind of the virtual assistant all times and hopefully prevent him to develop any bad business ethics.
If your virtual assistant starts seriously slacking of anyways, give him a warning. Sternly let your virtual assistant know how you would react if they misused your trust. Inform them clearly and un-misunderstandably how you would react and which steps you would take if this virtual assistant would continue exhibiting bad business ethics.
Use the carrot and the stick strategy. As much as you must be stern and assertive towards your virtual assistant, you must show your kind side too. If your virtual assistant does great work from time to time, give him an additional bonus for his work.
When you do this, let him know exactly why they received the bonus. Be specific about what sort of work was excellent and what sort of attitude you are looking forwarded to in the future.
How to react if your VA shows bad business ethics
Give him one final warning!
If your virtual co-worker continues to screw you over, have him stop all work. Inform him that he needs to explain himself to you. Count up all the errors you have found in his attitude and ask for a clear explanation for each and every one of them.
Let them know that this explanation may very well decide about the future of this virtual assistant.
Why shouldn’t you fire the virtual assistant right away?
He is human too and can do some mistakes and if you have invested much time into working with him, then it is worth your while to try to get back on track. If this doesn’t work out, fire him and cut your losses.
If you do fire him there are some things that you quickly must do.
- If you have shared any important files with him via Dropbox, then remove any shared files from him.
- Change any shared passwords which you may have shared with him.
- After ending the assignment of the freelancer who repeatedly showed bad business ethics towards you, take the time to write honest feedback on oDesk. Be honest and don’t exaggerate. Clearly write down what was good and what was bad and why you ended the assignment.
- And if the virtual assistant has damaged you and your business with his bad business ethics, investigate how you can get a refund or complaint against the outsourcing company over which you have hired him.