So, you’ve decided to finally treat yourself to the virtual assistant you so deserve – and need.
Congratulations on taking the first step on what will be a life-changing journey!
‘Yeah, cool but … now what?’ you ask yourself, somewhat unsure of what the second step on this ‘life-changing journey’ is exactly.
And that’s fair. You certainly can’t be expected to know what you don’t know, but you know what? We know someone who does know.
OOF. That was a mouthful.
She’s been there, done that and knows exactly what first-timers need to do, say, and provide to lay the foundation for an impossibly amazing, productive and collaborative partnership.
So here, Lee S. Irwin shares her secrets to help you help your VA avoid breakdowns and make better, more influential choices for your business by putting in some effort to grow and deepen the partnership starting on day one.
Lee on connecting the dots …
"Give your VA as much backstory as possible.
"If a project is super close to your heart, don’t give it the same approach as a casual side gig. Telling your VA about your hopes, your process and your concerns will help get them in your corner so they can fight the good fight alongside you.
"My VA and I have quarterly vision-based planning meetings, and even spend at least 15 minutes each week talking about our personal lives!
“Knowing more about each other’s challenges and wins makes a huge difference as we navigate the week. I recently returned from a personal retreat inspired to make major changes in my business. My VA was a great sounding board as I sifted through possibilities. Because she knew the ‘real’ me already, she was able to help me zero in on ideas that resonated deeply with my heart.”
On correcting course …
"If a project isn’t going the way you’d hoped, say something as soon as possible.
"While your VA should have as much freedom as possible to accomplish tasks in their own way, it’s vital to be on the same page about the outcome. If there’s been a misunderstanding or miscommunication, fix it while it’s small. You both will benefit from the clarity.
"Last fall, my team’s fingers were worn to nubs trying to get my newest program off the ground. We couldn’t get our heads above water long enough to holler ‘Help!’ Unfortunately, most of the problems were self-inflicted due to miscommunication. We thought we were on the same page, but we really were all just hanging on to a runaway train – with communication as the caboose! The project launched, but it was a stressful time for everyone.
“My poor VA was eager to have a conversation about some of the ways we could prevent errors the next time.”
On involving your VA immediately …
"Even if a new direction or project is just bubbling in your brain, everyone benefits when your VA knows and is informed.
"Your VA should be treated as a team member, and your staff should be fully aware of how much they are vital to your success. Include your VA in the planning process, not just task management. Their suggestions and involvement will elevate your project to rockstar status!
"This summer, my VA and I are tackling a new venture – but this time we’ve done it together. Her insights and suggestions weren’t always what I wanted to hear, but the whole process was remarkably positive, smooth and peaceful.
“My VA brought to light several areas of my brand that would need to be adjusted with the new venture – areas that I wouldn’t have remembered until my poor audience was thoroughly confused! We were able to head off problems before they ever surfaced because we laid the foundations together.”
On getting face time …
"Communication is so much more than an email.
"Nobody wants to sit through one more meeting, but spending even 20 minutes a week meeting face-to-face with your VA can make a world of difference to your ROI.
"Tone of voice, gestures and real teambuilding happen when folks get together. Even if you and your VA have a fantastic communication loop, don’t skip this one!
"The longer I go without actually talking to my VA, the more distant I feel from her. Even if I have concerns or am unsure about the status of a project, one meeting with her is all it takes to assure me that she’s on-task and has my back.
“And when I’m away for a long trip, we try to meet as soon as possible after I return. It’s never a waste of time to connect and share any ‘downloads’ I had while I was gone.”
On closing the loop …
"If plans change – which is almost always inevitable – keep your VA in the know.
"Add them to the email chain or shoot a text to clue them in on new developments. They’ll appreciate the head’s up – and you’ll appreciate their proactive input. This is especially helpful for those off-duty times like weekends and evenings. Including your VA as a part of the conversation will prevent the totally-not-fun Monday surprises.
“When I’m handing off a client to my VA for scheduling, I like to add a line to my emails that goes something like this:”I’ve CC’d my executive assistant on this email so that she’ll be able to give you her full attention."
“I find this effective because it includes the entire email chain for my VA to browse if she has questions, and it clearly communicates to the client my trust in and esteem for my VA.”
There you have it. More really is more when it comes to working with your shiny new VA. More information, more feedback, more involvement, more face time and more communication.
So send that extra email, schedule that extra video call, share that idea that’s been bouncing around in your head, and tell another story that facilitates a more deeply connected relationship with your new VA.