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The reality is, without the right systems in place, replacing your Virtual Assistant unexpectedly could spell disaster for your business. All that onboarding, skills training, and even customer relationships could vanish overnight and you’d be left drowning in unassigned work without a lifeline – AHH!! What a total nightmare that would be!
Luckily, there are strategic ways that you can fill your ranks to prevent such a dumpster fire scenario. Nothing a little can’t fix! You can start out by centralizing information, streamlining tasks, and establishing clear standards… then hiring a new Virtual Assistant can actually go seamlessly without any major service disruptions.
In this blog post, we’ll unpack some of the key steps you can take, so that losing your VA doesn’t feel like you’re losing out on your hard-earned reputation or productivity.
Read on to learn how to replace your Virtual Assistant (who may or may not have quit) and hire a new VA without disrupting your business and client operations!
Standardize Systems & Documentation
- The greatest protection against VA turnover is by building airtight systems and documentation. Have a centralized hub (Easily done via ClickUp workspace!) that stores vital workflows and other process breakdowns.
- Make sure your business has clear, detailed instructions for all regular duties like scheduling, data entry, reimbursements, etc.
- Store SOPs, templates and guides in a centralized location with team access. Keep it organized and detailed enough that any new VA can get up to speed quickly.
- Take time-consuming, repetitive duties and automate them. Streamlining processes means less daily work for your VA to do, freeing up time for higher impact projects.
- And of course, automation stays in place no matter who is filling the virtual assistant role!
Creating Psychological Safety For Your Team Workspace
As businesses embrace the culture of more reasonably distributed teams -whether they are new or a core member- cultural differences can still unintentionally create barriers. So, how do you create a safe space for your team to thrive in? And more importantly, how can you help them show up as their best and feel fulfilled in their role?
One important part of leading a global team is fostering psychological safety – the belief that one will not be punished for admitting mistakes. This level of trust is especially critical for remote workers in cultures where “losing face” carries great stigma.
Key ways to build psychological safety include:
- Proactively assure new hires that questions and mistakes won’t result in termination. Reassure them you hired them because you believe in their potential. Celebrate questions as a way to continuously improve. This shifts blame-based cultures to a growth mindset.
Something I love about my new hires is the quality of questions they ask. Jeremy, my administrative assistant and SOP guy — does this a lot and it has made us tighten our processes even more.
Questions are just another way for me to see how eager they are to take an active part in my vision and improve work satisfaction.
Provide clear documentation of processes through onboarding, training and SOPs. Emphasize learning the “why” behind workflows, not just completing tasks.
On that note, consider having different media available for your SOPs to help ease your new hire – some might learn better through a video walkthrough, others prefer a written document with screenshots, or maybe an audio clip would do.
Thoughtfully discuss ideas to increase understanding. Show curiosity in different perspectives. Never dismiss questions as “dumb.”
What’s obvious to you, might not be for someone who’s never been running your biz from behind-the-scenes.
Praise effort and progress openly and enthusiastically. Results are important, but at the end of the day your team is composed of human beings with very real emotions and experiences – make room for deficits and use it to grow together. This reassures workers imperfection is okay during the learning process.
Create accommodations where necessary. The more supported your team feels, the more invested they’ll be in the success of your business and taking care of your customers.
An example of an accommodation we have is, if a team member feels like something could be an email, we do not force them into a team huddle.
Why? Because some of them are very introverted and prefer written communication vs Zoom. And for me, that’s totally fine!
Have open discussions to understand cultural norms from employees’ backgrounds that may impact work style. I’ve worked with Filipinos a lot, and they’re really phenomenal team members, but I noticed that they have this latent anxiety of being rejected or fired.
Sometimes they’ll agree to work that’s not within their scope just because that’s been prevalent in their work culture.
This confused me at first, but it really changed my team dynamics for the better when I was more receptive of our cultural differences and sought to be clear with my intentions + expectations.
With proactive communication and cultural awareness, remote leaders can foster the trust needed to unleash creativity, innovation and exceptional work from a global team.
Psychological safety is key to maximizing productivity in distributed workplaces, not only does this make you a more efficient leader, but it benefits everyone in your organization.
Maintaining Momentum through Standups
One of the most effective ways for remote leaders to stay connected with distributed teams is through regular standup meetings. In times of transition, like replacing a key virtual assistant, daily check-ins keep work on track and boost morale.
- Quick standups, often just 5 minutes via messaging or voice, allow teams to report progress, flag roadblocks and get instant help from leaders. This maintains visibility into moving pieces. It also reassures workers they have support.
- Actively solicit feedback on struggles and acknowledge contributions daily. Addressing issues promptly avoids productivity declines.
- Shift the tone from criticizing failures to celebrating wins — 0% tolerance for shaming. Daily touchpoints provide an opportunity to recognize progress and new skills being developed. This positive reinforcement builds confidence.
- Short daily standups don’t require extensive preparation. Think of it as a highlight of what needs to get done, by who, by when, how it can be done better, and what help/resources is required to fulfill that.
- As always, be intentional in all you do… even when calling for a quick team huddle. Consistency and predictability increase feelings of stability during transitions.
Can You Replace Your Virtual Assistant Without Disrupting Business Operations?
Losing your virtual assistant can be disruptive, but with the right preparations any business can weather the transition with minimal impact.
Detailed Standard Operating Procedures and Empathetic Leadership are keys to navigating the core of your business. By establishing a company hub to store centralized information about the SOPs, automating routine tasks, openly communicating with the team, and improving psychological safety in the work space, you’ll be able to continue providing excellent service while efficiently conducting the turnover process.
So even if life happens, you can still replace invaluable team members and keep progressing smoothly with the help of these practices. It will surely strengthen resilience against unexpected changes.
Subscribe to my YT Channel for more videos covering advanced techniques for project management, team collaboration, productivity hacks and the latest must-know apps to keep your business in optimal shape!
Episode 162 – Transcript + Timestamps
How to Replace Your Virtual Assistant Without Disrupting Business Operations
[00:00:00] Yvonne Heimann: So your virtual assistant quit, or maybe you are just not happy with your current VA anymore. Things change, things move around. Life happens. You’ve tried everything to support them and get them back to align with your goals and it just didn’t work. Things happen. Today, I’m going to show you how you can manage a virtual assistant handoff and how clients of mine were able to shift complete teams, in no time.
[00:00:29] Life happens. Your virtual assistant might have decided they are going a different route. They are focusing on a different niche. They don’t want to do VA anymore. Whatever it is, life happens.
Onboarding Challenges With Work Handoff
[00:00:43] So let’s talk about how you can easily manage a handoff where a team member leaves the team and you now suddenly potentially overnight have to replace that team member, handoff [00:01:00] processes, or even potentially have to completely replace teams.
[00:01:05] A complete team of multiple people. Now the struggle with this is that you often enough, don’t just hand off one process at a time where it’s like, especially with content creation, there is the YouTube creation, there is the graphic design, there is the freebies. There is podcast recording, there is social media.
[00:01:24] There’s so many different processes that are all happening at the same time, that handing these off can be quite overwhelming. And usually when you do a plant handoff, you go one piece at a time and one process, okay, we start you with the graphic design, go do the thumbnails. And then we move into handing off the podcast.
[00:01:45] And sometimes that’s simply not possible where you’re like, Oh my God. How am I going to do all of this? I’m bringing in a complete new team. Somebody is taking off our mobile, multiple processes. We don’t have time for this. Life is crazy. Business just tripled. Let’s take a [00:02:00] breath. I’m going to show you exactly how we made it happen with multiple team members, multiple processes, handing them off in no time.
Working With Your Team Through Structured Guidance
[00:02:09] Number one, you got to have your shit together. You need your standard operating procedures. You need to have your processes in place. You need to have your task templates in place. You need to have your automations in place and you need to have your resources ready, AKA your company hub where everything is now.
[00:02:24] That’s a lot. Yes. If you’re a smaller business and you’re literally just replacing one virtual assistant. It’s fine. You just need to have your SOPs and processes ready. If you have automations running, make sure you update the assignee from your old virtual assistant to your new virtual assistant. Again, I have so many videos on the channel that help you set all of this up in ClickUp and have this ready.
[00:02:50] We are not going to dive deeper into this today. Where this comes in and where the most struggles is happening is not the resources. [00:03:00] My clients have their resources ready. I have my resources ready where the struggle comes in is the personal aspect and the human aspect of handing all of this off, you are suddenly dealing with a new virtual assistant that hasn’t worked with you yet, that wants to serve you, that wants to give you the best.
[00:03:21] And they might be feeling first of all, like they need to get it right for the first time. In this process of handing off your processes, make sure your new team members feel like they don’t have to get it right for the first time. They will try. If you hired right, and if you did what I told you to do when hiring.
[00:03:45] We have a video about that, then your team member will want to work with you and will want to be perfect in the beginning, give them time and peace to know it doesn’t have to be [00:04:00] perfect. I’m pretty sure you are not a heart surgeons. Things happen. It’s fine. It makes us all personable. Also, there is no such thing as being perfect.
[00:04:09] So really assure them and give them the confidence. That they’re at the right place, working with the right people and everything will be fine and turning into a well oiled machine, have those communication, praise them, let them know when they’re doing well. And when they’re coming with questions, don’t be like, that’s a dumb question or that’s a dumb idea. No, reiterate on it, work with them.
Fostering Peace And Comfort In Asking Questions
[00:04:33] Number two is make them also feel like they can ask you questions. There is often, especially in the niche of virtual assistants, where we are hiring overseas. They might just feel like they gonna get fired if they ask simply, because they don’t have the same upbringing. They don’t have the same background. They don’t have the same personality as we have.
[00:04:57] So you as a leader, it is [00:05:00] your responsibility to create that psychological safety of them, knowing just because something didn’t work as expected, they’re not going to get fired over it. Not only that, it creates a level of peace, a level of peace for you and a level of peace for members.
[00:05:18] They’re not coming in and oh my God, am I going to get fired today? What is happening? But it also gives you as the leader, the peace of knowing it’s all going to be fine. With junior team members and especially new hires, you might also be running into imposter syndrome where they’re like, I’m new in this position,
[00:05:34] I don’t know how, what, where the process is. So giving them the standard operating procedures and reiterating that they are in the right position and you are there to help them. You are not there to do their job. You are not there to micromanage them. You are there to support them and step into this awesomeness that you see in them and why you hired [00:06:00] them.
[00:06:00] And don’t forget in some cultures, admitting, not knowing can be seen as shameful and losing face. So this perceived risk of losing your job and imposter syndrome might actually be quadruple and five times than what you are experiencing as a leader. Make sure you are there to support them and give them that piece of you are here to learn, and I’m here to support you, let’s get this done together.
[00:06:31] With that cultural difference, they might also be over focusing on the result, meaning I just need to get this done rather than really learning the process, how the process works, and and what goes into it, and maybe even updating and making your process better. It’s just, I need to get this done this way.
[00:06:51] It’s rigid and not fluid, which actually can hurt you. So again, really make sure you were speaking to that [00:07:00] personality and give them the assurance that if something goes out, you’re not just going to fire them. To dive deeper a little bit into this different countries, different perceptions, I work a lot with Filipinos and their culture.
[00:07:15] Now, one of the things that I had to learn is they’re not getting fired. There is this cultural thing over there where, when you work for a Filipino company, they just don’t give you work. They just don’t give you work and expect you to just quit at some point because you feel unworthy to deliver for the company.
[00:07:37] Again, this is in my words. This is how this story stuck in my head. But yeah, it’s like you are not getting fired. You’re going to quit at some point because you can’t provide any value because you are not getting any work. So don’t assume that you are overflowing people and you’re giving them too much.
[00:07:54] So you are not doing anything. Have that open dialogue, have that open [00:08:00] discussion and step into it with empathy and an open mind to understand potential cultural differences that you have no idea about and having those conversations and learning about their culture will also really build that trust where now you have a team member that’s going to stuck around that is in it for the passion for your business.
[00:08:24] And you are getting way better results out of them than when they are just killing time. Everything is always trial and error. Go with the flow and really build that bond with your team.
Building Collaboration Through Standups and Check-ins
[00:08:37] Last but not least have standups. Standups are check in calls. They could be just a message on Slack to quick check in of what are you doing today or weekly or monthly calls to really talk about what’s going on and have this conversation.
[00:08:54] It allows you to actively ask, what are you struggling with right now? What can we [00:09:00] celebrate you for? How can I support you as a leader? I am here to help you get this done. You are not just here to take work off my back. So, especially in the beginning, when you potentially switch complete teams and multiple processes, have quick daily check ins where it’s a slack channel and somebody leaves a quick message.
[00:09:22] I’m doing this, this, this, and that I’m struggling with that. I could use some help with that. Really quick and simple, takes just a few minutes and it really helps keep this momentum going off, knowing what is happening in this process, then have weekly stand up calls to really go through, where’s the team at? What are they potentially struggling with? What can we celebrate them for? What are they working on? Which SOPs potentially need updates? What has happened last week? What needs to happen next week? And really build this consistent and predictable trust and working together and [00:10:00] collaboration for you to be able to do this.
[00:10:02] I promise you when you are paying attention to all of these things and you have your physical assets ready, your SOPs, your automations, your checklist, and you are giving them the personal attention of speaking to the human and supporting them with having the physical resources to get their job done.
[00:10:25] Now, suddenly switching complete teams and replacing your virtual assistant, because they just switched what they want to do, really easy and simple.
[00:10:36] And now to continuously help your team really be efficient and give them the support they need and deserve.
[00:10:43] I have a playlist for you right here that gives you all the ins and outs on SOPs and company hubs and all the things I make sure to subscribe. So you don’t miss any video and can continuously learn, ClickUp and scale your business.
00:00 | Introduction
00:43 | Onboarding Challenges With Work Handoff
02:09 | Working With Your Team Through Structured Guidance
04:33 | Fostering Peace And Comfort In Asking Questions
08:37 | Building Collaboration Through Standups and Check-ins