5 Ways to Love your VA as a Partner, not just an Assistant
Don’t worry, we’re not expecting wine and roses here…BUT…if you want to really get the best out of your VA, you need to work with them as a partner, not just an assistant. And, like a good marriage, this partnership will flourish if you invest in it and give it some TLC. So, because it’s February, and because love makes the world go round, here are my top tips for a happily-ever-after collaboration with your VA.
- Be clear about your expectations
It’s probably best to know before the wedding if your new spouse is expecting the marriage to be an “open” one…and it’s best to get everything out in the open with your VA from the outset too. It can be challenging on both ends of the spectrum for a VA/client relationship to be successful, but you certainly increase your chances of making it work if you’re clear about your expectations, hopes and desires from the off. It’s crucial that your VA knows what is expected of her, and it helps if she has a bigger picture of what your expectations are for the business as a whole too. Remember, they’re working WITH you; they’re an advocate for your business and they’ll be much more effective in that role if they know what they’re doing and why!
- R.E.S. P. E. C. T
Aretha Franklin may have been asking for “just a little bit”, but when it comes to respect, your VA should give and receive it a-plenty. One of the most important areas for this is when it comes to respecting their time. They will have other clients; they may have a family and a whole host of other responsibilities and commitments too. So please do not assume that they can respond to your demands at the drop of a hat. Find out when they ARE available to you and be considerate of this. Most VAs are flexible and will step in to deal with something urgent, but that doesn’t mean they can be at your beck and call 24/7.
- Demonstrate trust and loyalty.
Your VA is a professional; they are most likely a business owner in their own right and a highly experienced and knowledgeable individual. They do NOT need to be micromanaged. If you don’t trust them to do their job – if you don’t relinquish control and instead continue to breathe down their neck over every task, they will probably leave you in favour of a client who trusts them to get on with it. Rest assured that they will tell you if they are not able to do something – a good VA will recommend an alternative solution if they can’t learn how to do it themselves – so let them BE!
And let them know that they can trust YOU; by being true to your word, seeing things through and being honest.
Loyalty is another cornerstone of this relationship. You expect your VA to support you and your business, so do the same for them. Let THEM know if you’re not happy with them, don’t bad mouth them or complain about them to others. And if you ARE happy with them, be generous about it, tell them….tell others! Don’t worry that they’ll tempt them away. If you have a strong, healthy relationship built on loyalty and trust they’ll stick with you. Helping them to grow their business will simply increase the strength of the bond you already have and don’t forget that the more exposure/experience they gain, the better for you!
- Don’t underestimate them
Your VA wouldn’t be a VA unless they could type those letters for you, format that report, send those emails… and generally take away as many of the necessary but monotonous tasks that would otherwise clog up your days. But do you know what else they can do? Like most smart VA’s, they probably have at least one niche area of brilliance. You might be sitting on a social media superhero, or a wicked website designer. Find out what really floats their boat and you might be able to harness that passion and expertise for your business. You’re probably missing a whole host of tricks if you pigeonhole your VA as “just an assistant” who makes your boring admin go away. VAs make cracking confidantes and we can be pretty sharp sounding-boards for your ideas too. Underestimating your VA might mean overlooking a valuable asset that could hugely help your business.
- Communicate – properly
Communication is key to any successful relationship, but it’s not just about firing off emails with instructions or sending a text to chase something up. If you want your relationship with your VA to flourish, then it’s worth making time to actually TALK to them. There’s so much more that can be communicated face-to-face or on the telephone. Just have a proper catch-up; a good chat can be a salve for the soul in today’s de-humanized digital setting. Keep up the dialogue, whether it’s a quick daily check-in or a weekly or even monthly thing. Share your thoughts on what’s gone well and highlight anything that you think needs improving. Keep them in the loop with what’s happening with the business; if you want them to really feel committed and dedicated to your business then bring them in to your inner circle.
Like any marriage, a VA/client relationship won’t always be plain sailing, but acknowledging that they work WITH you rather than FOR you, that they’re a valuable strategic partner rather than an assistant, will really help you to both get the most out of the collaboration.
A great VA really is worth their weight in gold, they could be your secret weapon, and critical to the success of your business. So before you dismiss them as “just a VA”, think on; see what they have to offer, give them the respect they deserve and the space to grow….and share the love!