Management is the opportunity to help people become better people. Practiced this way, it’s a magnificent profession. –Clayton Christensen
A virtual assistant can change so many things in your business. They can make you more productive. They can relieve your stress. They can help you reignite a passion for your business. But they also change who you are as a business person. You’re no longer doing this on your own. You’re suddenly a manager, too. And while there is major payoff in that in the long run, it’s important to realize the responsibilities and privileges that come with it.
Because so many of our clients and potential clients are or will be first-time managers, we want to make sure you have a guide as you take on this new role. Here are the first, important steps to becoming a manager people will want to work for, and one whose team will support them well on the way to smashing their business goals.
Clarify What You Want
This is a vital step that only you can do, and it is the very first one you need to take when you are considering hiring a virtual assistant.
Simply put, before you put a VA to work, you need to know exactly what you are looking for them to do. So, sit down with a notepad or your laptop and make a list.
What gaps are you looking for them to fill?
Which projects do you need to offload, and are there elements of these that fit into the same or similar skill sets?
What skills does your VA need to have in order to fill the role you have in mind for them?
How will you measure whether your VA is succeeding?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll be able to hire exactly who you need, with a clear idea of the role they will fill in your company.
Overcommunicate What You Need
In the beginning, you need to communicate much more than you probably realize. Without being condescending, assume that your VA knows nothing about what you are needing. Here, clarity is key and it is a kindness, as is being concise. Specify all the details that you can. This small investment of extra time, in the beginning of this and any project, will make a much sweeter working relationship down the road.
Now, you’re the boss, so you can do this in whatever format you want to, so it makes sense to do it in whichever way you like and will use the most. You can use email. You can do multiple voice recordings (just keep them short, and sweet, with a new recording and matching title for each topic). You can get on regular video calls with your VA. Slack, Zoom, and Trello are all useful technologies to accomplish strong communication. But whatever medium you choose, just make sure you are in regular communication with your VA on what you need from them.
Timelines. Expected response times. Methods for dealing with performance that isn’t up to your standards. All of this needs to be specified from the beginning. If you are working with a Virtual Admin company, some of these details (like pay rate) may be laid out in your contract. But any thing that isn’t, needs to be addressed up front, with you taking the lead. The more you can spell out what you expect from the time you VA starts, the more you are setting your VA up for success in their new job. Lay these things out, and you are going to be much happier with the investment you are making.
Evaluate and Recognize
Go ahead and schedule regular evaluations. This will help both parties. The VA knows that he or she will be getting feedback, and that can motivate performance. It also means you will be checking in and giving them both praise for work well done and help with any problem areas so that they can be corrected.
But don’t wait until those meetings to give feedback. Especially when your virtual assistant has done something well, make sure you take a minute to recognize their work. You might be a “no news is good news” kind of boss, but take a moment to consider the person on the other end of the line. When a worker has zero face-to-face contact with the boss, and stares down a piece of technology every day to do their job, it’s very helpful to hear “That was great!” from a human from time-to-time. Praise is highly motivating and gives important feedback to your virtual assistant about what kind of work pleases you.
If you’re already working with a VA and realize you’ve missed doing some of these, rest assured that any of these steps can be implemented at any time, and you’ll be glad you didn’t wait any longer. They will all make your organization stronger going forward. Next week, we’ll look at some other easy-to-apply principles that will make your transition into leadership an easier one, and transform your business into a well-run machine, with everyone involved becoming better people, and better at their jobs.