When you hire a virtual assistant, you don’t want to treat them like a run-of-the-mill employee, that’s not why you sought them out. VA’s offer something special to your business and the best way to bring this out is by building a partnership with them.
Having a healthy relationship with your VA comes down to balance and mutual respect. If you’ve hired someone with a similar work ethic and philosophy to you, this compatibility will facilitate a long-term working relationship with some fantastic outcomes.
1. Outline Expectations
It’s a given that you need to define your expectations for your virtual assistant before you officially hire them, but don’t underestimate the value of continually outlining these going forward. Not only should you communicate your own expectations, but your VA should do the same with you. You need to clarify what you want to outsource, how you expect them to perform and what outcomes you expect them to achieve. Don’t forget to explain the nature and purposes of their assigned tasks so they understand why and how to complete them. On the flip-side, your VA should express their expectations of any resources they expect from you, the level of flexibility and communication they require.
We outline our own expectations and learn those of our clients throughout our onboarding process, no two clients have the same expectations and it definitely saves a lot of frustration in the future to clarify them early.
A helpful way to ensure you and your VA are on the same page is to have up to date Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). SOPs are a crucial ingredient to delegating that make the transition of tasks much easier. Collate a list of all of the routine processes you perform as part of your business (not only those you’ll outsource onto your VA) and update the instructions. This not only gives your VA the relevant information they need, but it will save you time in case you need an SOP down the line without warning.
2. Find A Connection
When you are used to doing everything yourself, it can be difficult learning to let go and delegate (especially if you’re a Do It Myself Entrepreneur).
Even though you could do these tasks yourself, remember that you are passing them onto a VA as their expertise will allow them to be completed to a higher standard while freeing you up to work in your zone of genius.
Keep a physical reminder (e.g. a list on your phone, whiteboard, diary or a post-it) with all of the reasons you decided to use a VA. These may include:
Keeping these ‘why’ reminders front of mind helps you to remember the value a VA can offer. This also gives your VA the flexibility to confidently share their ideas on improving productivity and systems once they have learned your business. Recognise that they are not just a task-ticker, but a person with value to add. Take the chance to get to know them better by asking them how they are and what they do outside of work.
Taking just 5 minutes at the beginning of a Zoom meeting shows that you care, which can make you both more comfortable bouncing ideas off one another in the future and building the relationship to its full potential.
3. Open Communication
Establish alternative channels of communication that work efficiently for you and your VA. Determine what kind of task, problem or question would require communication via a phone call, IM, email or a video meeting.
Assigning certain priorities with a distinct form of communication means you don’t won’t waste time in the future in an email when a call would suffice.
Tools we use to communicate with include:
It’s also important to set boundaries by limiting communication availability to standard working hours, and agree that when either one of you has blocked off hours that these will be respected. However, you don’t want to go radio silent without giving your VA notice that you’ll be offline for an extended period. By establishing a routine and standard protocol for questions and emergencies, you’ll have a clear understanding of how to interact.
Welcoming open communication also involves generous feedback on both ends. Whether it’s positive or constructive, it should be encouraged as an opportunity for both of you to learn and grow, and it doesn’t need to be left to the end of a project since ongoing feedback is hugely beneficial.
Of all the tips mentioned in this article, communication is the most important area when it comes to building trust. If we have problems with our own clients, it’s nearly always because communication isn’t working for one party.
4. Be Flexible
As your relationship grows so too will it change. Be flexible and open to this change, it will only benefit your business.
We have clients who have worked with their lead VA for years, yet the relationship is constantly changing. We may bring in other team members as new expertise is needed, or work directly with other members of our client’s direct team.
Technology is constantly changing and improving how we work which calls for flexibility and being open to new ways to do business. A careful balance between educated decision to embrace new opportunities versus shiny object syndrome (or keeping up with the Jones’s)!
With flexibility from you and your virtual assistant comes continual improvement.
Download our free guide below for more tips on working with your next virtual assistant.