3 Steps to Properly Communicating With Your VA
Let me tell you up front: There is nothing more frustrating than blurred lines of communication. This is true for literally any scenario but it’s especially true for business relationships. I’m speaking specifically about, of course, virtual assistants and their clients. If you’re a VA and you don’t really know how to make it clear to a difficult client that they’re not making their needs clear, email them this post. If you’re a businessperson and you’re considering hiring a VA or you’re already working with one, please pay attention.
Most can agree that communication is arguably the most important aspect of any working relationship. Nothing gets done if needs aren’t communicated properly. Example: I can’t respond to inquiries if I don’t have the necessary information about your company. Another example: I can’t organize your Google Drive until I know which documents are deletable. (This is as simple as certain categories, beyond certain dates, etc.) My point is there’s a very, very, very small chance that anything will get done when there’s a lack of communication. So with that being said, here are three key ideals I think clients should keep in mind when relaying information to virtual assistants.
Set clear standards
For every new working relationship, it’s important to set and keep certain standards. These expectations will obviously vary between clients and businesses, but the fact remains. Making these clear to your virtual assistant from the jump is the best way to ensure things start off on the right foot. Example: If you’re outsourcing content creation and you expect posts to be made the same time weekly on the dot, this is something you need to make clear. Because God forbid your VA post something at 9:02am versus 9:00am.
Give clear instructions
Does your company use a certain software with a learning curve? Or do you have a certain organizational system for your documents? Well your VA won’t know unless you tell them. Never throw them into the deep end of your mess and expect them to come up clean. Yes, there should always be a certain level of expertise coming from your VA, but we’re not magicians. We don’t read minds. If you know there is a specific way to do things and you’re not sure they know how, show them. This could be as simple as a Word document with some steps typed out. Some people prefer to create video tutorials or utilize screensharing. Whatever your preferred medium, take the time to show your virtual assistant how you like things done and everyone will be happy.
Do NOT micromanage
Did anyone else have that one teacher or sub that walked up and down the aisles of the class essentially breathing down everyone’s necks while checking their work? No? Just me? Well that’s what it feels like to be micromanaged. It’s like someone is physically breathing down my back. And if you know me, that literally makes me want to rip my skin off. Micromanaging is one of the worst things you can do for someone whose intent is to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Being micromanaged is a huge distraction for many people. Constantly throwing emails at your VA or sending them texts or IMs only takes away from the time they could be spending fixing your business. Not to mention most, if not all VAs still charge for time reading and responding to emails.
Dear VAs: if you’re not charging for time spent reading and responding to emails, please do so.
The first week or so of working with someone, close monitoring is acceptable to an extent. Of course you need to make sure things are being done right and meeting your clearly explained standards. There is a fine line between the two and it’s important to not cross it.
Now, this isn’t an attack on clients. Virtual assistants also need to keep these staples in mind. They apply to you as well, but that’s another post for another day. 😉
Have any key points you think are worth mentioning? Throw them in the comment section. I’m sure everyone would love to see your input.