For a manager, setting performance goals is the tool of alchemy – turning regular employee productivity into solid gold.

I’ve written a lot about Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in the past and how they’re a powerful tool for setting up virtual employee success.

They allow you, as a manager, to identify the indicators that are most valuable to you and to your business.

When you communicate those indicators to your virtual employee and make sure they’re being met, you secure the value of your labor dollars.

Really, if there’s only one management strategy you use, it should be KPI.

But even when you set and manage KPIs, there’s another step to elevate your virtual employee into higher achievement levels – setting performance goals.

According to the McKinsey organization blog, setting performance goals directly benefits the employee –

“Encouraging employees to set performance goals helps push performance and serves as a motivator for ongoing development.”

And also benefits the business –

“Goal-setting can help improve employee engagement in a way which elevates performance and benefits organizations overall.”

Not every employee will want to set high reaching goals – they may not have the time or energy to invest more of themselves in their jobs.

That’s fine, they can continue to meet their performance indicators and stay in that lane of steady, solid performance.

But, maybe you have a virtual employee (VE) who seems excited by the opportunity to learn new skills, take on additional responsibility and improve her position by helping to grow your business?

This person has the potential for solid gold employee performance using the alchemical power of setting goals.

Harvard Business Review offers four helpful approaches to setting goals that supercharge employee performance:

Now, Harvard is fancy and all that, but we’ve helped our clients improve virtual employee performance through goal setting for years.

If you’re looking for a staffing company that knows how to maximize productivity from virtual employees, click here for a free consultation.

As the end of the year draws closer, management companies are faced with less and less time to plan for “the future.” It’s around the corner, creeping up quicker than any of us are prepared for, and it signals a time for a lot of additional tasks – write-offs, annual reports, and annual budgets for each community, not to mention for the management company, are all coming up due. These are all important, but the biggest task might be planning out the calendar for the coming year.

Now we know that community association managers are the unsung heroes of communities. They're behind the scenes, working hard to keep everything running smoothly and efficiently for each community they serve. So, it can be difficult and time-consuming to manage multiple priorities while still paying close attention to detail. Having an accurate calendar of events is crucial and with help from a Virtual Employee (VE), your community managers can focus less on scheduling and tedious meeting management tasks, and more on the rest of the communities’ needs.

A Man(ager) with a Plan

Whether you manage one community or fifty, scheduling conflicts are just a fact of life. As a community association management company, your managers are expected to attend many different types of meetings.

Nearly all associations have regular monthly board or committee meetings. That’s at least the full board, anywhere from 3 - 7 people or more, plus the additional faces on any committee (like architectural committees), which means there are a lot of schedules to consider when finding a time and day of the week that works for everyone required to attend.

Associations also have special annual or semi-annual events such as the Annual General Meeting (AGM) where members vote on important issues like electing a new board member and setting the budget for next year.

All those meetings should be scheduled relatively far in advance so you can give the legally required notice to community members. With each community needing their manager’s attendance, the number of potential scheduling conflicts starts to snowball out of control.

By introducing a HireSmart Virtual Employee, management companies can redirect the experienced focus of their community managers onto more specialized tasks without losing any traction on time management needs. A VE can easily work with all parties necessary for each

meeting to determine the best date and time each type of meeting should take place and plan out your managers’ annual schedules in advance.

In Case of Emergency, Call Your Virtual Employee

In addition to regularly scheduled events, there are always emergency situations that require immediate action by your association's governing body. If there is an emergency (like a burst pipe flooding one of your buildings or a broken elevator), it is likely that another meeting will need to be called relatively quickly, and management involvement is much preferred so that everyone can discuss what should be done about this issue. Instead of a manager taking time out of their day to handle that emergency meeting planning a VE can be available to respond to the board and quickly find the best time for their manager to attend.

Let Someone Else Handle the Paperwork

For a community association manager, it might be tough to manage the day-to-day responsibilities and plan for an upcoming AGM or committee meeting. But don’t worry! There are plenty of things that a VE can do to help prepare the board for these important events.

For example, a VE can:

Plan the agendas.

This can be useful not only for big meetings like the AGM, but plenty of others as well, to help the new board meetings acclimate. This ensures that items are prioritized in a way that makes sense, so they don't waste time or forget important items.

Help with deliverables.

Important takeaways, such as meeting minutes and financial statements, are important to the success of any board meeting. Having a VE handle that responsibility ensures the documents get done in time and accurately reflect what happened at each meeting.

Having this content readily available for every meeting is just another way these meetings take up less effort for community managers and streamline other tasks in the process.

Choose HSVE

HireSmart Virtual Employees aims to simplify the way management companies, and community association managers handle their day-to-day. From time management to efficient preparedness, Virtual Employees hired through HSVE can make a massive difference, especially during year-end. If you’re ready to find a Virtual Employee to add to your team, click here to schedule your initial HSVE consultation

Maybe you’re familiar with virtual employees, and maybe you’re not. Whatever your situation, here’s something to consider.

A virtual employee is the right fit for any job that requires a computer with reliable internet and a phone.

I’ve used virtual attorneys, accountants, financial advisors, technical assistants, customer service representatives, and graphic designers, I’ve even had remote consultations with doctors.

I’ll bet you’ve done the same.

When you have a job that needs doing, there are two things that really matter – price and quality.

Unless you like to regularly get coffee with your bookkeeper, do you really care whether they live in the next town over, or across a continent or two?

And that bookkeeper that lives in the next town over, let’s look at her average hourly pay in the US. According to Indeed, for 2022 it’s $21/hour.

Please keep that number in mind while I digress with the following example.

You’re shopping for shoes, and the salesperson puts two pairs down in front of you. They look identical, you try them on, and they feel identical.

The materials are the same, the craftsmanship is the same, the return policy, the box they come in, everything is the same except for one quite important detail – the price.

One of these pairs of shoes costs $100, and the other pair costs $50.

Your first instinct tells you something must not be quite right; something is too good to be true. That’s what I’d be thinking right along with you.

You try them on anyway, each pair, first the expensive ones and then the cheaper ones.

All your five senses tell your brain that they are actually the same even though one costs half as much as the other. But your brain resists the truth because we know that price usually indicates quality.

Except sometimes it doesn’t.

Let’s return to our $21/hour bookkeeper. At HireSmart Virtual Employees, we will find you a bookkeeper for $10, maybe $12/hour. That’s half the cost.

Will that same bookkeeper do data entry for you? Yes. Will she fill in on customer service when necessary? Absolutely. Will she set up meetings with clients for you? Of course.

Will you pay benefits on top of wages? No. Will you pay social security taxes or disability benefits? No. Any payroll taxes? No.

I think you see what I’m getting at. Let your competitors be the ones who pay double for the same quality of service.

If you want to gain the competitive advantage of lower labor costs and smile all the way to your bottom line, click here for a free consultation.

Do you prefer DIY or DFU? Here is my analysis! Watch this video and share with us - which team do you relate to?

 

We’ve come across entrepreneurs who needed help delegating tasks. However; they were not sure what tasks can be delegated to a virtual employee. Thanks to the internet and the development of online tools, remote workers are now capable of doing more than ever before by knowing the tasks that you can delegate to your virtual employee.

Virtual Staff and remote workers have helped businesses grow by managing tasks from answering phone calls, accountings, setting appointments, taking care of their social media presence, and a whole lot more. They helped entrepreneurs free their time so they can dedicate more time to developing their business more.

In a previous article – How to Delegate Tasks – we have outlined the important steps a business owner has to take before assigning tasks to their staff. But how do you know which tasks you need help with? As a guide, you can ask yourself these questions and make a list:

  1. What repetitive tasks am I doing on a daily basis? We are not even aware sometimes but there are a lot of repetitive tasks we are doing every day that eat up so much of our time. Things like checking voicemails, returning phone calls, replying to emails, managing your calendar, etc. Imagine how much time you can take back when you hire an employee who can do this on your behalf.
  2. What are the things I can’t do or don’t do well? Perhaps you needed an expert to help you with some things? A virtual employee might be the answer to that.

Now that you have the list, you can then categorize them according to your virtual staff’s role and the level of difficulty. To guide you further, here are the common roles that a virtual employee can perform for your business:

  1. General virtual employee – Tasks would include: responding to emails, receptionist duties handling inbound and outbound calls, booking appointments, calendar management, taking minutes of the meeting, database building and file management, bookkeeping, email management, chat management, personal errands like booking flights and reminders etc., Proofreading documents, internet research, creating reports, transcription, simple eBook layout/formatting, forms creation, data mining/lead generation
  2. Social Media Marketing Virtual Employee – open social media accounts in different platforms (I.e., Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn), planning and posting “sticky” content, research strategies to increase traffic to the website and the social media platforms, writing, editing and sharing blog posts
  3. Real Estate Virtual Employee – (we would like to note that there are distinct kinds of real estate virtual employees however, we will outline some generic roles just to give you an idea). Setting up and confirming client appointments, preparing the marketing material, entering new data in MLS, proofreading and editing images for listings, handling feedback from buyers or buyer’s agents, creating newsletters, posting and managing ads on Craigslist or similar sites, responding to email and phone general inquiries, preparing and filing paperwork, follow-up with prospective buyers or tenants,

Other tasks:

  1. Dropbox/Google Drive Organization
  2. Creating or Managing Spreadsheets
  3. Preparing PowerPoint presentations
  4. PDF conversion, splitting, and merging.
  5. Moderating blog comments
  6. Checking voicemail
  7. Sending client invoices
  8. Basic editing of audio and video files
  9. Podcast setup
  10. Copywriting
  11. Keyword research for blog content
  12. Competitor analysis
  13. Designing logos and banners
  14. Designing infographics or images
  15. Training of new virtual staff

In HireSmart Virtual Employees, we provide a step-by-step guide in helping you make the most of your virtual staff starting with choosing the right one and even helping with pre-training them as well! Book a free call with us to find out how.

I absolutely love this time of year. As we transition from one year to the next, it is a time of reflection, a time of new beginnings, and a time to do things differently.

5 years ago, I remembered thinking that I needed a significant change in my life. My Marketing Manager of over 4 years quit via text on my first vacation in 7 years the year before, and it was a revolving door to find quality help. I was burned out, frustrated, and knew that if I kept doing business the same way, I was going to decide to quit myself, and all my hard work the past 14 years would have faded away.

I had gotten introduced to the concept of full time dedicated help from the Philippines, and I was intrigued. I took 6 months to research everything. We looked at other countries and evaluated price points, language, culture, and determined that the large fortune 500 companies like Chase Financial, ATT, Verizon, Dell, and many others. I figured they had more resources to evaluate these things better than I did.

At the time, I knew I wanted to protect myself against employee payroll taxes and benefits. I didn’t want there to be any question about whether we were hiring another employee disguised as an “independent contractor.” Yet, I wanted the control and commitment of an employee, so I needed a staffing company.

I searched and interviewed several and came across 5Star who seemed just to fit. They had similar goals and philosophy to ours. And I took the leap to hire my first full-time virtual employee (VE). After working with 5Star for a while, we decided to join forces. Neil, Mark & I formed a formal arrangement and HireSmart Virtual Employees was born. We started helping friends find amazing people and it worked great for everyone. Those first VEs that my first client hired are still working for them today 4.5 years later.

We certainly have grown a lot, learned a lot, and this year we actively employ over 165 workers. We have several businesses, but only 1 employee to do the things that need to be done physically. Interestingly, she has been out for the past 2 weeks on medical leave. My husband & I am absorbing her role while she is out.  I was a little worried about how I was going to manage, but I am happy to say, while a little stressful at times, my virtual staff handled most of the heavy lifting so I am free to continue doing what I like to do.

Some people think that hiring VEs should be like an automated machine. More AI than VE. I disagree. I think hiring virtually should be done as with much care as hiring an employee. They need to be screened, properly vetted, trained, coached and mentored just like your local hires. The difference is we help our clients find the best matches, and we provide coaching and support along the way when there are challenges. We are dealing with human capital and so there are always going to be personal trials that come into play. We help our clients get to the finish line faster with less wasted time.

My hope for you as we enter into 2020 is that you get to do more of the things that you like to do. That you find the peace that I did. I found mine through transitioning to a virtual workforce and helping others to do it as well.

One of the changes that I am making in 2020 is to communicate more. If you like what you are reading – I hope you will email me and share your insight with me.

For those of you who are interested in taking a step to find out if virtual employees are for you, I would encourage you to book a call with me and let’s chat to see if this would change your life like it did mine 5 years ago when I hired Theriza.

 

To provide you with helpful tips and tricks and meaningful content, I wanted to share with you some things that I have found have helped me in managing and getting the most out of my virtual employees (VE).

#1 – Have clear expectations of what you want from them.

Do you have set KPI’s (key performance indicators) for their role? Have you shared your expectations with your virtual employee? Are you giving them weekly feedback on how they are doing?

When talking with leaders & managers, I find that many times expectations are not clearly defined. I know I used to not be super clear in expectations back in the day. Often, we are so busy keeping the boat from filling up and drowning us that is becomes a low priority. Now, in my business, we have very clear priorities and KPIs for each role in the organization. This has really helped me understand the value that my virtual staff members bring to me and my organization every day.

It is almost impossible for anyone to meet an expectation that has never been communicated to them. This applies to staff, friends, & significant others. Your virtual staff has been trained and conditioned to give you a daily recap of their progress for the day. Take a minute and read the report. Are you happy with it? If not, ask them to track what is important. If you see a particularly productive day – tell them. Which brings me to the next tip.

#2 – Appreciate your Staff

Your virtual staff wants you to be happy with them and their performance. Make sure you share some of the successes with them.

For me this was a particularly challenging task. In the beginning, I actually had to put it in my calendar to provide positive feedback weekly to get me in the habit. (Please don’t judge me – I am a very busy “D” personality who used to believe that if I wasn’t complaining – it was OK and everyone should certainly understand that.)

Theriza my very first virtual employee really helped me grow in this area. She needed more positive feedback and basically forced me into the habit. I am thankful she did. It has made me more aware of my communication style and allowed me to be a better overall person because of it. Now I am still not the flowery language type, but I do make an effort to provide both positive feedback as well as corrective feedback.

Don’t be like that friend, family member or customer who only calls to complain. Remember that they are people just like you and sometimes a nice pat on the back goes a long way to building a great relationship.

#3 – Provide constructive criticism

At some point, your virtual employee is going to make a mistake. It is inevitable. I certainly make my fair share of them too. How you handle it will determine the quality of the working relationship you have with you virtual employee and the rest of your staff.

When my virtual employee makes a mistake, I categorize it into 1 of 2 categories. A training issue on my part or a flaw in the execution on his/her part.

Training issues. Most of the time when my virtual employee makes a mistake it is because I had a flaw in my process, training, or communication. These mistakes help me refine my skills as a manager and help me be a better business owner. I look at the hole in the system, repair it and move on.

An example of this might be. My virtual employee tells a prospective applicant that the home is available when in fact, a qualified applicant recently secured the home. I break down the flaw. Did my internal people update the spreadsheet? Did we not communicate to take it off market? Where was the breakdown? Once I determine the breakdown, I can fix it. Advise my virtual employee of the new process and evaluate the new process.

But let’s say using the example above, we followed the process and she just missed it. We are all prone to error. I would ask her – why did she not review the information before frustrating a potential tenant? I would continue to ask questions until I fully understood what happened. Maybe she was tired, having a bad day or whatever the issue was. I then share that providing accurate information is really important to me and ask her what can she do to help make sure that this doesn’t happen again?

I involve her in the training and process development to help her problem solve herself. She learns from it and sometimes she has a better idea of a way it can be handled. Allowing your virtual employee to be part of the troubleshooting process can have huge rewards.

Make your virtual employee a valuable member of your team. Engage them in your business. Give them ownership of their tasks and expect greatness.

For over 2 years now, we have been helping clients find and select quality virtual employees. It has been an honor to help our US clients find quality staff and to help our virtual employees find reputable clients and long-term careers. If you ever have a question or concern about your virtual staff, please reach out to me. I am here to help you. You don’t have to figure it out on your own.

To your success!

Anne Lackey
Co-Founder – HireSmart Virtual Employees

Many times, we often hear the phrase ‘Do the Impossible!’ But is it beneficial to execute a backbreaking work to secure and measure productivity effectively? Whether you manage a huge enterprise or a startup, ideally, reaching goals is an intrinsic part of growth. We are going to share with you some of our best tips to measure productivity. Whether monitoring in-house or remote staff, having clear KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will help move the needle of your business.

Focusing on the tasks that will create the impact can also be difficult unless you set the standard. Therefore, it is important to clearly communicate those goals and standards to your team and regularly monitor them.

For a business focused on developing growth, here are 3 elements to effectively measure productivity:

The Clock Isn’t Always the Basis:

 Time well spent is more important than the volume of time for certain tasks. While certainly, time management is a very important skill, some tasks clearly require mental processing. These types of task cannot be rushed as if they are, the outcome will not be optimal. Understanding what the best outcome is for the time spent, is a much better measurement of productivity than breaking down the task into a minute by minute increments. Judge the results of the labor and not the amount of time spent.

Woman with Laptop at Home

 The good old 80/20 rule applies in every area of life but is very important in business. Approximately 20% of what you do impacts 80% of your end result. Stephen Covey talks about spending time in the Important/Non-Urgent category of tasks. It is important to recognize this while measuring your productiveness. For example, if 20% of what you do is training people, establishing a good connection to the team, and sharing best practices, you’ll have the chance to influence them towards success by multiplying the values and the productivity of the business. It also allows you and your staff to have an approach of working on things that have the highest return on their investment of time. Busy does not equal production in most cases.

Keep Track of Everything:

 By tracking the time spent and the results of the day, it allows each of us to make sure we are spending our time wisely. Each day our virtual staff provide us with a written report that helps us track their performance and allows us to see how productive they have been each day. Are they accomplishing the objectives?

 KPIs need to be reviewed regularly. They need to reflect the overall goals of the position. For our business, we review then at least quarterly since the economic environment changes fairly rapidly.

Achieving your business goals is the primary objective. Human capital is one of your largest investment of resources. It is important to make sure that you have policies and procedures in place to measure the effectiveness of you and your team.

 If you have ever wondered how we run 7 businesses while maintaining our sanity – schedule a call to see if we can help you get out of the weeds and have more of a life. Cheers!

In today’s world, good communication skills are necessary for the business owner and their staff – whether internal or virtual. Yet, good communication is an art that needs to be practiced and refined. In fact, if we really give attention to the people we talk to, it becomes clear that we can learn from each other just by having a normal conversation if we first seek to understand.

Although there are many principles involved in good communication skills, we wanted to highlight the important ones for you. Here are some factors of good communication skills:

Listen Attentively



A good reporter knows how to listen. Of course, nobody wants to spend their time talking to someone that doesn’t give their attention to what you’re saying so be present at the moment and give your full attention. Stop all your other tasks and ask relevant questions to assure understanding. Conversely, you don’t have to focus too much on what you’re going to say next after listening, instead, you can exchange thoughts by responding relevantly and smoothly.

Eye Contact

For important conversations have them face to face if possible. We work with clients who have virtual staff located around the world. When there is an important conversation, hop on Skype and have a video call. This allows you to better connect than over email or messaging. Eye contact is the first to communicate your thoughts which serve as the window for your feelings toward your interest in a conversation.

Be Clear & Concise



Too often people say what they think you want to hear rather than delivering a clear message. Making your point in a roundabout way can confuse the conversation. If need the other person to understand, then speak plainly and ask for understanding. This is different from being blunt and rude. You want to deliver your message in a way that is easily understood and then allow the other person to respond.

Appreciate

Once you have had the conversation, appreciate where they are coming from and share your appreciation with them. Whether you are the initiator or receiver, good communication is a gift. When we are able to have a clear understanding of each other’s perspectives, we can begin to develop deeper relationships even when we agree to disagree. We are all different. We have different social upbringing, different cultures, different communication styles. This is what makes a stronger organization. Understanding and appreciating our difference, allows us to work more effectively together.

Take time to develop your ability to connect to people by collecting a few ideas from this article. Gain more confidence by practicing and expanding your social circles, and as you go along, you’ll find it simple to connect with just about anyone in any situation. This strength will then take you towards an abundance of new opportunities that would not have been available otherwise. That’s the advantage of good communication skills.

If you'd like to learn more about how virtual employees can help increase your business productivity, feel free to book an appointment with me today and I'll help you all throughout the process.

Why should we concern ourselves with employee retention? The cost for re-hiring is very high. It is much more cost-effective to keep your staff if possible.

Employee retention is a strategy that supports employees/staff to keep them engaged and productive with the company for a longer period of time. We not only need to take care of our customers but we also must make sure the people who serve our customers are happy and loyal.

Clearly, we should not retain staff members who are not performing at work, yet unplanned and frequent employee turnover is generally seen as bad for the business. It usually reflects bad management, poor compensation, or lack of proper selection. Hence, it is very important for an organization to have a manager to look after the staff’s needs or at least a dedicated program to determine staff engagement issues in an organization.

The following are the 3 commonly identified signs of employee disengagement:

  1. Absenteeism and Tardiness – This is the most obvious sign of a staff member who lacks interest at work. Although sometimes there are emergencies that cannot be avoided, an absence once a week is a sure way to tell your staff is not motivated to work anymore.
  2. Poor Quality of Work. Regular errors, lack of attention to detail, and low productivity are indicators of an unsatisfied staff member. It could be caused by personal problems or issues with management.
  3. If you are getting complaints from the other staff members suffering from their colleague’s poor output or worse, if you are receiving complaints from your customers themselves, then you have a serious problem. The staff member concerned may be facing an unrealistic high workload or may need retraining. These issues should be addressed with urgency before the company starts losing clients.

So what are the negative implications of a high employee turnover?

  1. Even for employers who hire virtual staff, there are still costs associated with hiring one. We dedicate time to training our employees as well as pay for their training to make sure they are effective at work. Hence, we cannot afford to keep losing quality workers. In addition to training, we also must consider the cost to market new openings, complete necessary background, reference checks during the recruitment process, and management’s time to select a new candidate.
  2. The performance of the entire team can be greatly affected. If there are new people to be trained while the experienced ones are leaving, a lot of the tasks may not get done because the team is short-staffed to handle the current workload. Not to mention the quality assurance of the new staff members reduces the amount of work that can be accomplished.
  3. Morale is the degree to which an employee feels good about his work environment. It is directly related to the success of the organization. A high morale team is likely to be much more productive, displays great performance and creativity in the workplace, has less absenteeism/ tardiness at work and encourages increased quality of work output. With teams with high turnover typically have staff that will most certainly be burned out as they shoulder the burden of their previous colleagues’ tasks and this can be demotivating.
  4. Lower Knowledge Base. The constant change of employees means the average years of experience and background or employees are diminished. This means employees are less familiar with the tasks and are less effective in handling the customers.

Considering the points above, it is therefore, very important for an organization to come up with an effective employee retention strategy, implement them during onboarding and not wait until the issue arises.

As said by J.W. Marriott:

“If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself”

Are you struggling to find the right employees/staff who are fit for your business needs? Are you in need of a professional to handle recruitment and employee retention? If your answer to both is yes, you can get started by booking your free consultation here.