If you have a successful business, no matter what field, niche or expertise – you will probably need help. If you want the business to grow, it’s not probable anymore, you will definitely need help! Sometimes, based on your needs, they need to be in-house assistants. However, using a Virtual Assistant to tackle those tasks and projects, will not only save you money, but you have the option of using more than one Virtual Assistant for specialized services… someone to take care of customer service, another to do social media management, and yet another to do your bookkeeping. Just like managing them in-house, it’s very easy to manage them virtually as well, as long as you follow a few key guidelines.
- Communication: Whether you decide on daily contact or weekly check-in, communicating is the most important aspect. It can be done by email, Skype call/IM, or phone call. At NSVS, we like to use an online tool called Glip. It’s a great tool for keeping in touch, creating teams, and organizing tasks. We’ve used other tools in the past, such as Asana and Trello – but I’ve found that Glip is best for our needs and communication style. However you decide to communicate, you must ensure that your task is well explained, proper lead-times and deadlines are given.
- Patience: Communication is a 2-way street. Always be open to questions! Even if dealing with a professional, they must first learn how you and your business usually handle situations, or what vision you have in mind. There will always be a learning curve, which is why we match our VAs for long-term commitments. Mistakes will happen, but usually only once. They will usually not be huge, if communications were done correctly, but it’s how you recover from these mistakes that are key. How to Bounce Back From a Big Mistake
- Training: Most VAs have a vast array of knowledge, in many different softwares. They usually only need to learn about your business, products/services, and how you do business. If there is a particular task that could use explaining, creating quick training videos usually are the most effective. I use Screencast-o-Matic for quick screen-share videos. This way is can be used to train several people on the same task, and keeps a record of it for the business’ Policies & Procedures Manual.
- Trust: To get to the point of trusting your VA, you must first follow key steps: pre-screen and vet correctly, ensure proper training is provided, and use one starter task to evaluate their communication style, commitment, eagerness and attention to detail. Review the finished product with them, providing both positive and negative feedback. If you have hired correctly, these independent contractors will adjust accordingly and ensure that their reputation remains intact. Then you should feel confident enough to let go and let them shine.
- Security: Another area of trust is sharing sensitive materials/data. First of all, there should always be a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement in place before starting. Then there are numerous softwares available that are safe to use when sharing documents, passwords, etc. At NSVS, we use LastPass and Dropbox.
Managing a team of VAs is easy when you are a good leader. A good leader must lead by example. Through their actions, which are aligned with what they say, they become a person others want to follow. When leaders say one thing but do another, they erode trust, a critical element of productive leadership. Here are some ways to lead by example:
- Take responsibility. Blame costs you your credibility, keeps team members on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth.
- Be truthful. Inaccurate representation affects everyone. Show that honesty really IS the best policy.
- Be courageous. Walk through fire (a crisis) first. Take calculated risks that demonstrate commitment to a larger purpose.
- Acknowledge failure. It makes it OK for your team to do the same and defines failure as part of the process of becoming extraordinary.
- Be persistent. Try, try again. Go over, under or around any hurdles to show that obstacles don’t define your company or team.
- Create solutions. Don’t dwell on problems; instead be the first to offer solutions and then ask your team for more.
- Listen. Ask questions. Seek to understand. You’ll receive valuable insights and set a tone that encourages healthy dialogue.
- Delegate liberally. Encourage an atmosphere in which people can focus on their core strengths.
- Take care of yourself. Exercise, don’t overwork, take a break. A balanced team, mentally and physically, is a successful team. Model it, encourage it, support it!
- Roll up your sleeves. Like Alexander the Great leading his men into battle, you’ll inspire greatness in your company.