It’s been over a year since I opened my virtual office management company. Some of my clients have been with me since my early days, others are new, and a few of them I let go. Thankfully, none of them have fired me. Prior to managing my own business, I worked in the capacity of executive assistance and office management for many different executives. Some of my bosses were awesome, and others were terrible. Ensuring you have a successful relationship with your virtual assistant comes down to one thing – leadership.
It seems rather simple since you are a leader of your own business, but leading other people is an entirely different ballgame. When I analyze the successes, obstacles, and mishaps I’ve encountered with my clients, there are five steps you can take to create a long-lasting and rewarding partnership with your virtual assistant.
Hire the “Right” Virtual Assistant
I know. How do you know if you have the “right” virtual assistant? Do your due diligence. Start with the network of people you know that are using a virtual assistant. Ask for recommendations, but don’t stop there. Find out what’s good, how they work, what they use them for, and what they might change about their virtual assistant. Referrals are the best place to start – 75% of my new clients come from my referral base. If you don’t know anyone that has a virtual assistant, consider a VA matchmaker, or network on LinkedIn. Make a list of what’s important to you, tasks you could use help on, and personality characteristics you get along with. Do homework on what to ask a virtual assistant in an interview. Then interview a handful of potential candidates. Trust your gut, and don’t ignore red flags.
Train Your Virtual Assistant
In an ideal world, your virtual assistant will step in and just take over your tasks, so you don’t have to deal with them. When you are busy, it’s tempting to believe your virtual assistant can do this. However, no matter how talented your virtual assistant is, he or she needs to understand how YOU do business. Although your virtual assistant may be experienced with various tasks and can make suggestions on how to smooth operations, in the end, your business operations have to work for you and your style. Take the time to explain new projects, making sure all the details are discussed and questions are answered. And I have found the best way to handle training is via phone or videoconference, not email.
Make Regular Time for Your Virtual Assistant
It can be lonely being a virtual assistant. Your virtual assistant needs you, for more ways than one.
- She wants to connect with you and know how your business is going
- She wants her questions answered so she can accomplish what you’ve asked her to
- She needs to know if she can help you with anything else
- She wants to report on her progress and get status from you on outstanding tasks or projects on your plate
Have regular meetings (weekly, bi-monthly or monthly) with your virtual assistant. If possible, use video conference so you can see each other’s faces. A smile goes a long way.
Value Your Virtual Assistant
One of the main reasons I started my own virtual office management company is because I felt undervalued. Administrative professionals are often unnoticed and unappreciated, yet they are key to making things happen in business. One of my clients tells me all the time “Don’t leave me. I don’t know what I would do without you.” She tells me “thank you” all the time. There is never any doubt in my mind that she values me and what I do for her. Here are some ways you can show your virtual assistant she is important to you:
- Say thank you! Yes, you are paying her, but it’s still okay to say thanks.
- Compliment her on a job well done. Another client of mine affectionately calls me “Amazing Lori” and it always warms my heart.
- Send her little gifts for special occasions or for no reason at all. Chocolate, massages, and restaurant gift cards are always appreciated.
- Make time for her. Don’t get so busy that you can’t respond to her requests and needs.
- Be gentle and patient with her when she makes mistakes. We are human beings – not human doings. Make mistakes a learning opportunity, not a chance to criticize.
- Trust her. If you cannot trust your virtual assistant, it may be time to find a new one or evaluate your own trust issues. Trust fosters growth and connection.
- Pay her what she’s worth. And it’s probably more than you want to pay. (wink)
- Get to know her personally. Even in business, it’s okay to make time for small talk.
Empower Your Virtual Assistant
Don’t let boredom and monotony ruin the relationship between you and your virtual assistant. Give her opportunities to continually grow and evolve. Trust her with new projects. Empower her to make decisions on your behalf. Give her more responsibility so you can be free to grow your business. Encourage self-improvement by investing in training for new skills. Ask your virtual assistant for her opinion and collaborate with her on business decisions. Put the ownership of tasks on your virtual assistant so you don’t have to micromanage. A strong leader inspires and empowers, making his team members feel important.
If you have a rock star virtual assistant, all of these ideas will be welcomed by her and will go a long way towards building a successful, prosperous and long partnership. Take the time to find your “gem”, and then work hard to keep her.
5 Steps to Ensure a Successful and Long-Lasting Relationship with Your Virtual Assistant
April 18, 2018