Do you work with a Virtual Assistant, or are you considering working with one (or several)? A Virtual Assistant can help you and your team to work more efficiently and productively, giving you the time and energy needed to focus on the tasks that you excel at and your business relies on for success. However, the effectiveness of the relationship doesn’t just rely on their skills – the way that you communicate with them is a major contributing factor to the success (or failure) of your working relationship.
Here are my top five tips for effective communication with your virtual assistant(s) – the foundations for a successful and long-lasting relationship:
Speak to them before you start working with them: this is an absolute must! It’s likely that you’ve met, at some point in your life, an individual who – though perfectly friendly and professional – you just don’t get on with. In a working relationship, this isn’t a good thing. A positive working relationship requires a mutual understanding and respect, and at least some shared values, and if the relationship starts off on the wrong foot then it’s difficult to come back from that. Take the time to speak to them and find out a little about them and their professional experience before you commit to working with them.
Be open and honest about your expectations: Be clear from the outset about the expectations you have for your working relationship. What exactly do you want them to do? How many hours will this take? How quickly do you need work to be turned around? Your new VA is unlikely to be a psychic, and therefore clearly communicating this information makes it more likely that they will be able to achieve what you need them to achieve (when you need them to achieve it!).
Don’t micromanage: If a VA has the skills and experience that you specifically asked for when you took them on, trust them to carry out the work that you have allocated. Checking in every five minutes, or demanding updates on a regular basis will take valuable time away from your VA, as every time you send an email or ask for a call, you’re taking their time and attention away from the task at hand. The likelihood is that they are also skilled at delivering the service that you have engaged them for, so are capable of carrying this out without being managed intensively by you. Of course, if it is a task that they are unfamiliar with, or it is their first project with you and you want to ensure that it is being completed appropriately, speak to them at the outset and work out a plan of action that is mutually agreeable to foster a relationship of honesty and trust.
Check-in with them regularly: It’s worth checking in briefly with your VA on a semi-regular basis, perhaps once a month, to ensure that everything is working appropriately. Be aware that they, like you, are likely to be busy, so weekly calls aren’t always practical. However, touching base regularly can give your VA, and you, the opportunity to address any issues or concerns and ensure that the working relationship is as positive as possible.
Ask for help when you need it: One of the reasons that you are likely to engage the services of a VA is to get support with a task that you are not comfortable/skilled at – we all have aspects of our business that don’t fall within our zone of genius, it’s perfectly natural! If you have engaged a VA to help with a certain task, whether that’s diary management or email marketing (or anything in between), feel free to ask them if you need help or advice when you are trying to carry out some of that work yourself. Of course, it’s your diary and it’s your email marketing platform, so you have the ultimate say when it comes to how they are run, but asking for the advice of someone who spends all day, every day, carrying out that task could save you HOURS of stress and pain. Imagine that you’ve got a website, but aren’t 100% confident with updating it, and you accidentally press the wrong button and ‘BAM!’, the whole thing crashes. If you’ve got a tech VA supporting you with website development, you could ask them for advice on making these changes, or ask them to carry out the activity themselves so that these activities can be implemented quickly and simply and in a fraction of the time it might take you, if you are hesitant and/or unfamiliar with your website platform. Trust me – it’ll be cheaper and easier to ask them for support than to have an accident with it and then have to invest additional time to repair or reverse the issue.
As I said, working with a VA can help you to increase productivity and business efficiency, but only if it’s a positive relationship built on trust and mutual respect. If it is, this relationship can have tangible benefits for your business.