The growing trend of Virtual Assistants who are hired by entrepreneurs continues. VAs are beneficial on so many levels. Yet working with VAs can also present communication challenges.
Here are 5 tips for small business owners to improve their communication with their VA, which will improve productivity and budgeting. These tips can also reduce stress for everyone involved.
Understand how your VA learns and works. Managing someone you’ve never met and understanding how they learn can be difficult. Ask your VA (whether she’s new or been with you for a while) to speak with you about her learning curve and experience. Does she do better with a phone call or e-mail? Would bullet points be easier for her to understand a new project? Can she speak with your former VA if she needs assistance with something? This conversation can save you both a lot of frustration as your relationship evolves.
Think it through. Before you assign a job or task to your VA, be sure you have the directions and goals clear in your own mind. It’s almost impossible to explain something with clarity when you yourself aren’t clear with your expectations.
Set reasonable deadlines. Many VAs know they will be given last minute projects with tight deadlines, but entrepreneurs need to be realistic. It’s likely your VA has other clients and responsibilities. It’s also likely that your VA works from home. Don’t expect her to be at your beck and call 24/7. In any job, lead time is typically appreciated. For bigger projects, map out a timeline that works for both of you to get the work done. Periodic updates are helpful, too, so everyone is moving forward as expected.
Pick up the phone. Yes, VA means Virtual Assistant, but there are times when confusion and problems can be avoided if we would forget the keyboard and make a phone call. Conversations can quickly resolve questions faster than a string of multiple e-mails.
Say thank you. Like any employee (and human being), VA’s like to be appreciated. Thank them for their help. Compliment them on a job well done. Remember their birthday and other things happening in their lives (child won an award, car broke down, conference, etc.). This shows that you genuinely care about them…and have listened.
Finally, if your VA is doing a good job for you, refer others to them. This is the way that most Virtual Assistants grow and maintain their business. It’s also a wonderful sign of appreciation and praise.
Susan Young works with business owners and associations who want to use publicity to increase their visibility, credibility and revenues. She’s the President of Get in Front Communications, Inc., a public relations and communications training company. Coaching is also available. Visit www.getinfrontblogging.com and www.getinfrontcommunications.com. Follow Susan on Twitter @sueyoungmedia.