Tips on How to Communicate with you VA
The following is an expanded version of an extract from my book; The Fast Guide to Hiring (and Keeping) a Virtual Assistant, available on Amazon Kindle and in Paperback.
How to Communicate with VA? This may seem like a strangely obvious thing to say but what goes for employees also goes for VAs. I failed to hang on to my first VA for reasons that are many and varied but some responsibility was undoubtedly mine.
If you enthuse your VA, and also provide a comfortable, rewarding and structured environment you will most likely build a long-term relationship. The last thing you want to do is spend time finding another VA. Trust me!
Can You Explain What You Do?
Another strangely obvious statement? Well not really, because this is crucial in enabling your VA to fully grasp what it is you do and consequently many of your expectations from him or her.
If you can not explain what your product does, you will have a massive problem selling it, so imagine how your VA will also struggle if the goal behind your business is not clear.
When I first hired a content writer I prepared a very short paragraph outlining the mission of my site. Whilst I admit that this mission statement has changed since then, it was nevertheless a really good exercise. He understood what kind of readers I was aiming for and was then able to write very well according to that target audience.
Strange then, that when it came to hiring a VA, I was well into the second month before it struck me that I should have done the same. Although this particular one was brilliant from the get go, one or two aspects of her work were not aligned to my way of thinking and didn’t seem to reflect what I saw as the purpose of my web site.
After working together for around two months I sat down with her (I had the good fortune to meet face to face but, remotely works) and asked a series of questions on the site and the work she was doing to gauge whether she understood it the same way I did. No surprise that she didn’t.
It would have been much simpler if I had just handed over a mission statement of some sort, and discussed it, on day one. So, as awkward as it may be to write a few lines on your business or project it will help to make things clearer for your VA.
Build a Relationship
You cannot just hand over everything to a VA on the first day and expect stellar results. It takes time to train someone to work as you want and to build a relationship, but this kind of investment will repay great dividends.
Train your VA to work as you want. It is important to remember that you need to get on with this person so here are a few pointers:
- Cultural references and geographical aspects may not be obvious, so spell everything out clearly. Do you want the cheapest flight or the quickest flight to be booked?
- Step-by-step guides will be massive boon. Yes they are time-consuming to compile but remember how important training is in any job. This is no different and the investment of time will be beneficial in the long run.
- Once you are working together make time to review their work until you are happy with it and provide constructive feedback on how your VA can improve it.
- If the work is not up to standard don’t huff and puff and redo it yourself. Provide constructive feedback explaining why it needs to be done the way you say. More often than not it is simply a misunderstanding.
- Your VA is not sitting in the same office as you so it you can fall into the trap of not communicating but it is crucial to set aside time to do so.
- Your VA may have worked in a totally different environment and may not be pro-active in alerting you when he/she hits some kind of obstruction in their work. Communication is vital in building a productive relationship.
Systems and Process, Systems and Processes…
Yes, I am probably repeating myself, but having systems and processes means the VA can work in an automated fashion and you will get the best out of them.
Set aside the time you need to educate this person to your systems and processes and then let them go. Time is Money.
- Doubts as to what they should be doing will eat away at your time.
- Questions as to what they should be doing will eat away at your time.
- Waiting for tasks to be handed over will ultimately eat away at your time.
Make sure you log how you do a task in as much detail as is possible. Then offload it. And repeat.
Entrepreneurs often ignore this
Entrepreneurs often ignore the need to document everything as they work frantically, all hours, to build up their business. But a VA is not automatically on your wavelength and does not have the intimate knowledge of your product or business that you have.
Taking the time at the beginning to spell out how things should be done is the only way to make things work successfully for the long term. This means deciding what it is you want to outsource to begin with. If you are having difficulty try this little test. And then writing a short "dummies" guide for tasks. Sounds like a lot of work, well the good news is that we can help!
As a good example check out this blog post from Tim Ferriss, in which he describes email templates he uses to communicate with VAs.
We can also provide FREE guidance and templates on request, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you!