So you’ve hired a new Virtual Assistant and it’s time to take your business to the next level. Delegating task, freeing up time and having someone to regularly brush ideas off of is a clear improvement. That said, just because you hire someone doesn’t mean that you will build an effective business relationship. Communication is the key. Keep the following tips in mind so that you create a work environment built on trust and respect with a team mentality.
1. Build trust by getting to know your VA on a personal, but professional level. Ask them about their hobbies, why they wanted to become a VA, what it’s like living in SE Asia, what life is like before being a VA, etc. Ask them what they like to do on the weekends and in their free time. I’ve found it best to view your Virtual Assistant as someone who COULD come in and work with you in an office every day. Just like with a physical office, a virtual team needs to have open communication and sometimes non-business, small-talk can help.
2. Ask for their opinions. Even though this may be your first virtual team member, it is most likely NOT your VA’s first time. If you found a virtual help through LibertyVAs.com, then all of our VA’s have previous experience and might be more experienced with certain tools or processes than you are. Ask for their feedback and what potential hurdles they foresee. All good relationships are mutually beneficial.
3. Be Flexible with Their Schedule. Stuff comes up; family emergencies, pet problems, internet outages or cultural traditions that you aren’t familiar with. You most likely work a flexible schedule and it’s recommended to extend the same benefit to them. My VA staff will request to come in early/late and will always send me a message when they start. This is one of the BEST ways to earn trust and respect from your virtual staff.
4. Be Patient and Understanding. Working with virtual staff in a different timezone and culture can be very demanding. Without eye contact or body language, things can be taken out of context or easily misunderstood. Giving your VA the benefit of the doubt when they don’t complete a task exactly as you expected is a great learning experience if you are able to stay patient.
5. Stay Humble and Ask for Constructive Criticism. You VA is experienced and can give you feedback on a wide array of topics. Remember, they may have much more experience than you in certain areas and can essentially give you advice and feedback that you would not get otherwise. Instead of hiring a coach, try asking your VA how you can improve and become a stronger leader in your company or field.
6. Ask for Confirmation. If you have a high priority task that you need focused on or you have some really important information to discuss, ask your Virtual Assistant to confirm that they understand and have no questions. Always create a safe environment for questions so that everyone is on the same page. Getting confirmation from your VA is essential to eliminating wasted time and miscommunications.
7. Give Compliments and Praise (when appropriate). Who doesn’t like being told that they are doing a good job? If your VA is impressing you with their work, let them know! It’s important to have a healthy mix of praise and constructive criticism when building a virtual team. Don’t just bring up the difficult moments, but enjoy and celebrate when things are going really well.
8. Ask Them to Create Tasks For You. Not only will this keep you better organized, but also show that task delegation goes both ways. This helps remove the feeling of “superiority” that often plagues the Management and Staff relationship. Use a Project Management tool like Asana.
9. Share the Same Playing Field. Your VA sees you as their CLIENT. This is important. You will see them as part of your staff (which they are), but they see you as their client. They’ve had several clients before you, but you are their current client. Remember, you both work for each other. Again, try to set a more level playing field instead of a hierarchical relationship. Nobody likes feeling below someone else; it’s just not necessary and can easily create resentment. If you want to be respected, then you must show that you are able to respect.
10. Ask them how you can help or what is holding them back from completing their tasks. As an entrepreneur you are always looking for feedback from your clients and staff. Your Virtual Assistant, if given the opportunity, can be a great source of learning and growth for you and your business. Ask them what is holding them back from completing their tasks. What is annoying them or a source of frustration? Even questions like “what tasks do you really enjoy and which do you have to just push through?” are very helpful. You are there to support each other and build your business.
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