There could be a number of reasons you feel that it's not working out - perhaps your VA isn't meeting deadlines, work isn't to the required standard, you've got more work to give them than they have capacity for or you just feel uncomfortable with how it's going. Whatever the issue, it needs to be addressed. Here are some important things to bear in mind when tackling the situation.
It is vital when you feel like things aren't going well that you discuss it with your VA. Don't stick your head in the sand and hope the situation will improve. Equally, don't just give them notice and move on to another VA - neither of you will learn from the experience if you do this.
Set up a call or meeting to talk about what's not going so well. There may be valid reasons why they're not meeting deadlines or reaching your standards. It's worth a discussion around ways of working and communicating and trying to get to the bottom of what's causing the issue. It's also a great opportunity to get feedback from your VA on how you work and communicate.
Which leads us to…
Not just of your VA but of yourself. Have you made your expectations clear? Are they realistic? For example if you've hired a VA for 5 hours per month is the amount of work you are handing over doable in that time? Are you communicating effectively with regard to how you like work done, what the deadline is etc.? Does your VA have all the information they need from you in order to do their job effectively?
If the answer to any of the above questions is 'no' make some tweaks at your end and talk to your VA about how to improve things. They will almost certainly be able to make suggestions about how to resolve any issues and make the working relationship more effective.
Check your contract
When you started working together your VA should have sent you terms and conditions and a schedule of service. If they didn't then this is a big red flag - all VAs should issues Ts and Cs to cover themselves and their clients for any eventuality that may arise.
If things aren't working out as smoothly as you would like you should check your contract. This should lay out what services have been agreed, minimum response times, payment terms and notice periods. You may find, for example, that your expectations on turnaround times may not match the terms and conditions that you have agreed to.
Checking the contract can help to recalibrate your expectations and provide an opening point for discussions with your VA. If you've decided you definitely want to make the break then the contract will tell you where you stand legally.
Don't make it personal
This is so important. Remember that this is a professional working relationship. That doesn't mean that the two of you will always get on like a house on fire but if the situation really can't be salvaged then keep it professional.
Come to a mutual agreement with your VA about a finish date - this may correspond to the notice period in the Ts and Cs or you might want to agree on a shorter period. If you're parting ways amicably, for example you're moving to a VA who can offer more hours or your needs have changed, then write them a reference or LinkedIn recommendation. Pay them for any and all work they have done for you.
If it's not a good end to the working relationship don't be tempted to bad-mouth the VA to networking contacts or on social media - it will end up hurting you more than them and other VAs will be a lot less likely to want to work with you in the future!
In short, behave properly. It can be daunting when you realise that you have to address issues with someone you've outsourced work to. But it doesn't have to be a drama. Approach the situation calmly, have a plan of action and be honest with both your VA and yourself. Talking it through may reveal that you simply have to tweak your ways of working to make the relationship more effective. And if you really can't make it work then staying professional will make the 'uncoupling' process smoother and less painful for everyone.
Helen Leach VA Services specialises in helping small business owners implement and streamline processes and reduce the admin burden. We take on the day-to-day admin enabling you to focus on your business and serve your clients. Get in touch to find out how to take your business from chaos to calm.