Paying a VA for success but not for "trying" is short-sighted, at best, and rather like a new-fangled sweat-shop at worst.

I’ve recently encountered a concept that’s fairly new in its application in the direction of working with virtual assistants.

It’s the concept of making VAs work to quotas, and to only paying for successes, never for “trying.”

As I’m sure you know, VAs are humans. And humans are rarely ever perfect; even those who are best-in-class at what they do. Even so, humans who own professional service businesses—like VAs, are folks with integrity. They do their level best, every day, to reach whatever mark helps advance their clients.

In my own life and work, I love to use bots and AI. AND I have to say that Alexa and Siri often let me down by getting whatever I’ve said I need, flat-out wrong. My own assistant Nicole, on the other hand, rarely ever gets it wrong. Sometimes, she doesn’t get it 100%, but her tries are always better than what I get from Alexa and Siri. And she does things that they can’t, like connect dots that I can be blind to. Put it all together and that’s why I trust her—with every bit of my business.

The idea of paying a VA for success but not for trying is short-sighted, at best, and rather like a new-fangled sweat-shop at worst. People deserve to be paid for the time they spend supporting you. Period.

But, here’s the thing: when you believe that paying for trying is a bad idea, you fail to consider that in our near successes and outright failures we make everything better. That’s worth paying for, too.

When we try, we often find human-sized holes in processes, assumptions that don’t prove themselves, and new ways of seeing. We learn. We pivot. We move forward. And when your VA shares with you what she found while she was trying, she contributes things that may never have been noticed or considered, if a beeline had been made from start to successful completion.

The power of working with a wholly-human assistant isn’t found in her successfully and flawlessly entering 500 names in your CRM by the end of the week, or tasking her with replying to all your Facebook messages within 30 minutes of when they arrive. And it’s certainly not in paying her like she should be a bot and execute flawlessly. The power is in the relationship, long-term and collaborative, with a person who wants to learn who you are, what you do, and why you do it, figuring out along the way how to deeply and passionately contribute to what matters to you.

I don’t know how you put quotas on that, and I sure don’t know why you’d want to pay only for ideal execution. Let her be a perfectly imperfect human, celebrated, in fact, for those imperfections, and see what kinds of amazing things her imperfections will help you do in your work and life.It’s a collaborative way of being in a working relationship that paying only for successes and met quotas will never touch. A better way. A way I hope you never lose sight of in your own business.