Good, effective communication is the key to a successful, working relationship with your virtual assistant (VA). In order to achieve this you need to focus on two areas: the frequency of the communication and its quality.
Your VA cannot simply pop their head around your office door whenever they need to ask a question about a piece of work so it is important to establish a pattern of regular communication by whatever is your preferred method. It may be via email, telephone or SKYPE – or a combination of methods. It may also be beneficial, if distances allow, to get together face to face every so often, say once a month, especially in the early stages of the working relationship. Bear in mind that you will usually be billed for this time, however building the relationship with your VA is an investment in streamlining the workflow within your business and also the key to solving your time management issues.
The quality of your communication is the crucial element in enabling your VA to work independently and get the job done. Consider the following:
Define the task – clearly define what exactly is required of your VA. Let them know why it needs to be done and its importance.
Deadline – when do you need the task to be completed? Make sure you agree a realistic deadline.
Specifics – is there a specific process that you require your VA to follow or a particular piece of software that they should use?
The following example highlights the relationship between your communication and the quality of the results:
“Please book a table for me at a restaurant in Leeds for 8pm this Tuesday evening.”
On the face of it this sounds reasonably specific, however do you really want a table for one in a restaurant on the outskirts of Leeds? Your VA will need answers to a number of questions. How many people is the booking for? Which area of Leeds? For example, in the city centre within walking distance of the train station or a late night car park. Any particular type of restaurant? It’s no good if your VA books a table at an Indian or a Chinese restaurant and you don’t like that type of food.
A good VA should be able to use their initiative and, if the restaurant has a website with an online menu, email you either a link to, or a pdf of it, and also a location map of the restaurant so that you have all of the available information at your fingertips before you go.