If you’re new to the idea of remote workers, it can be a little bit tricky to adjust to working with a virtual assistant. For a lot of people, not being physically present in the office together can hamper communication. But it doesn’t have to be this way!
Establishing good channels of communication with your VA is the crucial first step in building a mutually beneficial relationship that will help your company prosper and grow. Below are six simple tips for instantly improving your connection with your assistant.
1. Don’t Beat Around the Bush
It can be really hard to just come out and say something—especially when it’s not positive. You may be worried you’ll hurt your VA’s feelings by pointing out issues with their work. But don’t be! It’s possible to be kind while still being clear. Being direct is the only way your VA is ever going to learn what works best for you.
Don’t waste time tip-toeing around if something isn’t where you’d like it to be. (And definitely don’t resort to passive-aggressive maneuvers in the hopes that they’ll get the hint.) Simply explain the issue in a polite and thorough manner as soon as it arises and they can quickly address it, allowing you both to move on (and up!).
2. Keep It Coming
It’s not uncommon to let a business relationship toddle along without change because it’s “good enough.” But then when an assistant asks, “What do you think about this process,” or “How can I do better at this task,” the client suddenly comes forward with changes, edits, or complaints. This model of providing feedback only when pressed can leave an assistant reeling. They thought they were knocking it out of the park (zero complaints!) while you’ve secretly been putting together a laundry list of things they could be doing better. It’s a recipe for disappointment and resentment on both sides.
That’s why giving regular feedback is essential to establishing and fostering a continually positive relationship with your VA. Start this early on and it will allow them to pivot easily to meet your needs, which they’ll eventually even learn to anticipate. As we all know, things change on a daily basis in business. Giving feedback along the way is the best way to prevent those changes from causing a hiccup in your relationship with your VA. If your needs have changed, let them know. Don’t expect them to be a mind-reader!
3. Stay in Touch
Whoever said, “No news is good news,” wasn’t a virtual assistant. Your VA is a key part of your team and you should be treating them as such. So don’t just get in touch when something goes wrong. Set up a regular check-in (weekly, bi-weekly, whatever works best for both of you) to touch base and make sure that everything is still moving smoothly. In addition to keeping you both tuned to what the other is doing, this will also allow you to spot problems and address them head-on before they have a chance to manifest.
4. Lay It Out
Some people thrive when given vague instructions. They don’t mind setting deadlines for themselves, figuring out the urgency of a project, or puzzling together someone’s request. But for some people (even magical unicorn assistants!), that is hard to do. And what’s more, everyone performs better when expectations are clear. So why risk it?
When you’re establishing a workload for your VA, make sure you’re being super clear about all expectations and timelines. Really give them a blueprint for success. In the same vein, make sure you’re being reasonable about what you’re asking them to do. If you’re packing a week’s worth of work into two days, you’re setting them up to fail from the jump. Avoid that by giving them a detailed punch list and listening to their feedback in regards to the feasibility of executing it in the time you’ve given them.
5. Get Personal
You don’t have to be best friends with your assistant, but you should value them as a coworker and be invested in their happiness. After all, their primary job is to help your life run smoother. So get to know them on a personal level. Ask how their family is doing and know the name of their beloved pet. Find out when their birthday is and acknowledge it.
There’s no need to know everything about each other or waste precious work time on hours-long heart-to-hearts, but taking a few minutes per check-in to get to know the person behind the computer can help you maintain open and clear communication that is both respectful and friendly.
6. Be in Their Corner
Again, don’t just pop in to talk to them when you’re unhappy with something. Celebrate their wins. If they’ve been doing a killer job and you’re feeling great about how your business is benefitting from their work, tell them! That kind of positive reinforcement lets your VA know that they’re valued and their hard work is truly being seen. It will give them a confidence boost and help to solidify your relationship as one that is open, honest, and genuine.
Communication is often a stumbling block that cripples a company’s chances for success. As much as you focus on building clear channels of communication within your office, you need to aim for the same with virtual workers. Keep those lines open and flowing in both directions and you’ll quickly find that your VA can be one of the single most vital members of your inner circle.
Ready to up the ante on your business with the help of a VA? Contact Don’t Panic today to set-up a free 30-minute discovery call and see if our team of assistants can help you thrive.
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A textbook Capricorn and a daughter of the Deep South, Erin honed her instinctual love of organization and high-level strategy by watching and dissecting SEC football every autumn Saturday since birth. She thrives on finding the perfect balance between artistry and efficiency to deliver a copy that is both compelling and tight. Her writing and editorial experience span fields ranging from marketing to arts & entertainment, and from animal rescue to fashion design. In her free time, she enjoys baking, reading, volunteering with animal advocacy organizations, and spending time with her husband John, their two sons Emmett and Vincent, and their faithful hound, Lyra.
Work superpower: I'm a chameleon with a pen. If I get to know someone well enough, I can write fluently in their voice!
Favorite cheese: Cave-Aged Gruyere
Go-to karaoke song: Jolene by Dolly Parton
Beverage of choice: Iced Coffee.
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