‘Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today to get through this thing called life … ’
Now, you’ve got to listen to the song, right?
And the one tie that binds us all in this ‘thing called life’ is our need to connect. We need to feel seen, heard, and understood. And just how, exactly, do we do that? By continuously asking yourself and those around you: “how can I be a better communicator?”
We express our hopes, dreams, wants, needs, feelings – everything. Why? Because it’s how we connect with other human beings. ‘Here is what I need you to know about me.’ And the same is true at work.
Sure, you may not feel inclined to share your deepest, darkest secrets but in order to have healthy, productive relationships with colleagues, your expectations need to be explicitly communicated. And the same goes for working with your VA.
At BELAY, we’re remote so we’re acutely aware of how mission-critical communication is for getting things done, forging connections, and ‘getting through this thing called life.’
How To Be A Better Communicator
So here are a few common obstacles for creating open and productive lines of communication with your VA – and how you can overcome them.
Understanding Roles & Function
The Problem: Remote work has its positives, but sometimes the very structure of a virtual position inadvertently triggers distance in one’s knowledge bank. Your VA may not get a sense of the real ins and outs of their role and may benefit from greater clarity about their position and functions at the outset.
The Fix: Schedule times for you and your VA to talk frequently in their early days on the job in order to build rapport and foster an understanding about their role within your organization. Then – at a minimum – schedule a recurring weekly meeting, too. Watch Laura McGraw explain why you need a 1:1 with your VA.
An Atmosphere of Inclusion
The Problem: When you have people in the office, those who are away may miss out on daily activities that build camaraderie. Office-based colleagues may unintentionally reference events or anecdotes for which the VA has no point of reference, creating feelings of isolation and exclusion.
The Fix: Share funny happenings and work highlights. Bring them up in water cooler conversations via instant messaging apps or during ice breakers before video meetings from their week. Ask for highlights from their week.
Being Seen & Heard
The Problem: Virtual assistants need to feel entrusted and empowered to do their jobs, just as they would within an office. While work-from-homers need not feel like they’re being surveilled, they can appreciate times when they get to see and hear their colleagues.
The Fix: Embed visual technologies – like videoconferencing and the use of webcams – into your practices. Be careful to not make those who join put ‘on the spot.’ Instead, plan ahead so they can be ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille.
Communication – clear, explicit and thoughtful communication – is, at least for us, the foundation for, well, everything when working remotely. Because regardless of industry, job or even whether you work in a brick-and-mortar office or virtually, how we express our expectations and needs inevitably impacts and affects every outcome.
Both you and your VA will experience the same learning curve, albeit on opposite sides of the equation. Remember that on the other side of that screen is a person – a person who, incidentally, has chosen to partner with you to help your business thrive.
Those qualities that we consider to be inextricably human – sociability, empathy, compassion, kindness, patience, adaptability and a willingness to learn – will be the key to the success of your partnership. Unlock those with this paramount resolution – congratulations on making this huge communication commitment this year, by the way – and the sky’s the limit!
Need a little more? Still not ready to jump in with both feet? You know we got you! Check out this Successful Meetings Cheat Sheet for still more on how you can create a productive meeting cadence with your VA you can #goBIG in 2020.