How to build a good working relationship with your Virtual Assistant
November 14th 2022 – Written By Stephanie Sheargold
Building a relationship with your new VA is one of the most essential elements to forging a successful partnership. But it’s not always easy!
Let’s face it, modern communication methods can get in the way. Instant messaging and emails are fantastic tools for fast, efficient communication. However, they lack the warmth of a conversation and can lead to misunderstandings.
What’s more, you’re probably run off your feet. With so much to do, taking the time to create a strong relationship with your VA can be deprioritised in favour of more pressing issues.
Why is it important to build strong working relationship with your VA?
Your VA can quickly become the second pair of hands you wish you had. But this will only happen if you invest time and effort. Onboarding your VA with the nuts and bolts of your business is one thing, but creating a stronger connection takes a little more time.
Back in the old days, secretaries and team assistants were pretty much the equivalent of a ‘work wife’ for high-powered business people. It’s an old-fashioned way of looking at things, but you can, if you like, think of your VA as your ‘work wife’. They’ll be there for you no matter what, understand what you’re going through and will intuitively know what kind of support you need.
But building this kind of relationship takes commitment. Your VA will do whatever they can to help you, but as Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston sang, “it takes two…”
Here are five ways to build a strong working relationship with your virtual assistant.
- Speak regularly
Relationships are nothing without good communication. You probably have a few ways of communicating with your VA – instant messaging, emails, a Trello board or even – if you’re one of our clients – the Timpi app. But nothing beats a proper conversation. And that’s why we recommend weekly calls between you and your VA.
These calls will help you:
- Get to know each other better – the basis for a good relationship!
- Talk through how your business is doing and explain why you’d like help with certain tasks
- Clarify details with your VA that would otherwise seem too minor to discuss
- Hear your VA’s suggestions about how they can help you
- Verbalise your appreciation for your VA’s work.
- Be open
Positive relationships are built on trust. And to build trust, you must be open with one another. One way of doing this is to use your weekly calls to share a quick business update – this will help your VA understand how things are going.
As well as the successes, make sure you share things that aren’t going so well. For example, if you’re having a difficult time due to personal circumstances, tell your VA. They will be able to adapt their working style to accommodate this.
Likewise, making your VA aware of problems with a certain supplier or client will mean your VA can respond in a slightly different way to this client’s emails or diary requests, ensuring a more consistent approach.
Finally, this transparency will help you and your VA get into a routine and find each other’s groove. Perhaps you’re terrible on a Monday and need time to get your head down – telling your VA this will mean they know to leave you to it, unless there’s an emergency of course.
- Provide clear (and realistic) deadlines
Clear deadlines are the path to a happier working relationship. That’s because they help both you and your VA. You will know when to expect a job to be completed and your VA will be able to manage their time more effectively.
You should never need to micromanage your VA but having the same deadline in mind will give you the same expectations and avoid the need for uncomfortable conversations.
- Know that your VA doesn’t have magic powers!
Your VA is not a mind reader, nor do they have the ability to time travel and complete work in an unreasonable amount of time. And being human, they also need time to eat, rest and spend with their loved ones.
With this in mind, try to avoid assuming that your VA understands what you need them to do. You must tell your assistant about your business, your branding, your clients and what you need them to do for you.
Likewise, if there is a certain way you want things to be done, make sure you tell your VA. They can then respect this when working for you. If you don’t tell them, they won’t know! Not only is it frustrating for you and your VA when work isn’t right, but it costs you more money as well.
The occasional last-minute request is part and parcel of life as a VA, but regular last-minute requests to your VA are destructive. Not only do you risk damaging your working relationship, but your VA will be unable to prioritise the core work they do for you.
- Treat your virtual assistant like part of the team
As your relationship develops, you will have more confidence in delegating work to your VA. Using them as a sounding board is a great way to get a different perspective on ideas and may even prompt some completely new thoughts!
By considering your VA as part of your team, you’re opening the door to a more collaborative relationship where your VA feels able to suggest ideas that can help grow your business.
Understanding more about your VA’s schedule can help you create a more positive working relationship because you will know what to expect from your VA and when to expect it.
Support for your business and for you
A VA can be a huge asset to any small business owner, helping you save money, work more effectively and support improved profitability. Build a good working relationship with your VA and the sky is the limit as to how they can benefit your business.
Ready for more tips to help you work with your VA more effectively? Read our blog “What’s the best way for me to start working with my new VA?”