By Roy Meyer
If you haven’t worked with a virtual assistant before you may be surprised at how easy it can be as long as you’re prepared and educated about the process. Although you may be working with someone in a different time zone or even from a different culture this virtual working relationship can actually be less taxing than the normal routine of a traditional workspace.
Using compromise and communication will help ensure your working relationship with your VA is a successful one. It’s also just as important to learn what not to do when it comes to how you and your VA work together. Keep in mind the ten suggestions listed here may not all be applicable in certain situations.
However, the majority of these 10 tips should help to make certain that you and your VA have a long lasting, successful relationship, especially when it comes to clear, concise and open communication skills.
#1: Steer clear of asking too many personal questions or trying to get too much personal information from your VA. The idea is to keep a good balance between keeping the relationship as professional as possible vs. being interested just enough in your VA’s personal life so that they know you truly care about them and their family.
#2: The same holds true for information you choose to share with your VA. While this is at your discretion, the best rule is less is more. You may choose to share with your VA the fact that you have a family. However, it’s considered bad practice to share too many details about your personal life or spend any time complaining about problems you may be having with your spouse or children. Keep a mutual professional respect going by avoiding getting too personal.
#3: Be mindful of how much trust you give your VA as you’re just getting started. Credit card information, passwords to critical accounts or other sensitive data given out before you’ve established a certain level of trust could potentially lead to trouble. Work up, over time, how much you share with your VA and how much access he or she has to this type of information.
#4: No matter how credible your VA or how strong your working relationship, it is important to accept room for error. It’s not acceptable to lash out at your VA for making a mistake or for not understanding the instruction given. When this type of situation arises, take a deep breath and give yourself some time before speaking to your VA about this. And then, find out how to prevent this from happening again in the future. Keep in mind most often you’ll find the error was due to poor communication on “your” part rather than fault of your VA.
#5: Avoid topics that are controversial or taboo including politics or religion. It is fine to have an opinion about certain topics, but they probably have no place in the work place, even if it is a virtual one. Treat this situation with the same level of professionalism as you would a traditional corporate atmosphere. Keep in mind, even if you share your opinions and your VA doesn’t object, it doesn’t mean he or she agrees or is comfortable listening to or discussing them.
#6: Find a way to keep it professional but not “too” serious. Help your VA feel comfortable and able to approach you with questions or ideas by the working environment you establish. Being unapproachable may cause your VA to feel he or she is unable to approach you with questions, concerns or even share ideas they might have.
#7: Keep your appointments and be on time. You wouldn’t want your VA to be late for calls, appointments or meetings, so don’t think it is any more acceptable for you to do it. It’s unprofessional and disrespectful, and will only hinder the progress of your projects and your relationship with your VA.
#8: Remember this is a give and take relationship as well. Keep your hardworking VA happy by offering bonuses or being flexible about days off. Always keep your word and make it a point to get feedback from your VA about what would make him or her happy and potentially improve your working relationship. When both you and your VA feel you are benefiting from the arrangement things will work out for the better. Treat your VA well and this will keep him or her motivated to go above and beyond for you in the future.
#9: Arrange ahead of time work hours and holiday schedules. Establish up front the hours you expect your VA to work. Will it be straight eight hour days or will they be allowed to split their days into separate four hour shifts? Don’t expect your VA to work extra hours or even an extra day for the same amount of money. If overtime is required, make sure your VA is okay with this and that you both agree on financial compensation for such.
When working with VA’s overseas it’s important to establish holiday schedules up front including which holidays they’re allowed off? Which are paid holidays and which are not? In places like the Philippines you’ll find quite a number of national and religious holidays you should be aware of so you need to be very clear of up front so both you and your VA know what’s expected of the other.
#10: Always remember that praise goes along way in keeping your VA motivated. If your VA is meeting their expected duties, say so. If your VA is going above and beyond, then reward this. Acknowledging this will cause your VA to want to continue to do the best job possible. Being difficult to please or simply not acknowledging good work will only lead to frustration on the part of your VA which could potentially lead them to look for other employment.
Conclusion: If you’re at all considering bringing on a VA to help grow your business I strongly encourage you to take that leap of faith! In fact, working with a virtual team is the single greatest opportunity you have to double or triple your income with a minimal increase in expense. And by employing the tips above, you to, can build a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with your new VA and as a result, start enjoying the life you always dreamed of.