How to clearly communicate your expectations to your Virtual Assistant
I commonly hear business owners who have used virtual assistants previously before knocking on my door, mentioned how their VA went on a tangent doing things they hadn’t asked for or failing to communicate to them.
Communication is an essential tool between any business relationships.
If you have had a failed VA relationship or keen to start working with one, but not really sure on your what, who and how, here are some tips to assist you to creating the perfect relationship with your VA.
#1 Outline the task
Don’t assume they ‘get what you mean’. Be detailed in your description, the more familiar and longer they work with you, the trust will build and a clearer understanding of how you both work will develop. When starting out with a new VA, you need to be as detailed as possible, otherwise you’ll be pulling your hair out. Don’t just ‘tell them’ what you need, follow it up with an email.
You have heard people say ‘yes I got it’ and discovered they were completely off track. The English language is very interruptive. It is better if you can give examples.
More experienced VAs will know what questions they need to ask you. But newbies will need more guidance from you.
#2 Explain your preferred communication style
Having previously worked in the corporate world for Managing Directors, Chief Financial Officers and various General Managers. No two were ever the same in how they liked their work done and communicated. Some were self-sufficient, some old school and some just confused relying on me to tell them what to do.
So it’s important you advise your VA how you like to work and how you like to be kept up to date, and this should be done in your initial phone call with your potential VA. The reason is some VA prefer to work certain ways and if you’re requiring an alternative to what they prefer, then you may find your working relationship deteriorate quickly (and that is not what you want).
Types of communication streams you may prefer;
Your VA to just run with it and advise when completed, only asking questions when needed.
Communicate every step of the way so you know exactly where tasks are. You can use programs like ASANA (which is free) to help manage this, and is beneficial if your VA is working on multiple projects.Alternatively if you have multiple team members. It’s an effective communicating tool. Other alternatives are TeamWorks and BaseCamp. There are plenty of others, some free and some paid.
Communicate a strict guideline. No work is to be done ‘outside’ the specified task, unless asked first. Or that a task must be done within a certain number of hours, if they have reached those hours then to discuss with you first before proceeding any further. This is advisable especially if you are budget conscious, however a VA should advise you if the work is exceeding the perceived time.
Ways to communicate;
You can use online software programs as mentioned above, ASANA, Basecamp & Teamworks.
You may wish to have a face-to-face meeting with your VA on a regular basis, especially if you don’t want your inbox clogged. This can be done via Skype, or if the VA is local by meeting up at a location suitable to both parties. (Note expect to pay for their time and travel, as they are in fact working for you during this time.)
You may simply prefer to receive an email from them regularly on how projects are progressing.
#3 Conduct a regular review
Whilst you may feel this is tedious, it is in fact beneficial for your business. You may find your VA, or you could be, doing something that the other party doesn’t like, is confused by, or they may have a better suggestion to improve the system. Having a regular review enables both parties to highlight any concerns, praise what they love and be clear on where they’re heading. You are effectively wanting your VA to be your life long team member, so set it up correctly from the start.
#4 When communication is breaking down
Sadly, I hear this one all the time, and it does disappointment that some (not all) business owner goes sourcing other VAs without actually communicating with their current VA what their concerns are. 9 times out of 10, the VA has no idea they’re not happy.
If you are having issues with your VA, TELL THEM! Explain what your concerns are, and how you would like to see things improve. A VA is a business owner, and isn’t going to want a client being dissatisfied with their services, they are quite likely thinking you’re happy with their performance as you haven’t made them aware of your frustrations.
And of course, if their performance doesn’t improve, move on and find a VA that suits and meets your needs.
Remember, that any experience with a VA whether good or bad, is helping you in your own business identify what works and doesn’t work. No experience is ever a waste, it is educational.
If you’re ready to work with a virtual assistant, or online business manager (like me), contact me today.