In my last post I shared with you my concept of what a Virtual Executive Assistant is. You now understand the concept, but knowing how to create an effective partnership with your Virtual Executive Assistant is crucial to the success of the Client/VEA relationship. What do I mean by “partnership” or “partnering”?
From my perspective, to “partner” is to establish trust, share information, and work in tandem to solve problems and achieve results. In order for the Client/VEA partnership to be successful, both parties must agree to work together in a way that will help them create a successful long-term, collaborative partnership.
To help you get the most from your partnership relationship, here are 10 of what I believe to be the most important characteristics of a successful Client/VEA relationship that will allow you and your VEA to partner effectively and achieve extraordinary results.1. Communication
Open communication is vital to building a strong and successful partnership – especially when working from a distance. When assigning work, be concise and explicit with your instructions. Provide your VEA with enough information to allow her to perform your tasks competently and precisely. Ask her questions, and be available to answer her questions too. This will expedite progress in completing your work on time and with the desired results. Consider scheduling weekly phone meetings with your VEA to connect, discuss any new or existing work, address any issues, or just to say hi! Staying in regular contact will strengthen your working relationship and help it to move forward quicker.2. Trust
Just like all relationships, trust plays a huge role in the success of a virtual relationship. Your VEA will be involved with many areas of your business, and you must feel good about trusting her with the details you will be sharing with her, even if the information is personal or privileged. Having confidence in her abilities to do a good job for you, trust in her loyalty to you as a valued client, and faith that she will always do the right thing is essential to creating an effective and successful long-term partnership. As you work together, you will get to know her and her work style and work ethics, and trust will build. This is essential for the relationship to thrive and survive for the long-term.
Great business partnerships are founded on the symbiotic quality that is defined by the union of two people who fit together in work style and personality, and have mutually shared goals and expectations. You choose to work together because you believe that you are a good fit, and want to collaborate (join forces) on a professional level so that together you can meet your goals. Virtual Assistance is most effective when you see the relationship as a “partnership”, invest the time and energy required for it to be successful, and are willing to commit to it long-term.
Virtual Assistance does not work well when you have constant urgent deadlines or last minute emergencies because your VEA may not always be immediately available. By giving her ample time to schedule and complete your projects, and allowing her to put systems in place to alleviate the frustration these urgencies can create, you will both be happier.
The Client/VEA relationship breaks the traditional Boss/Assistant paradigm. The relationship is based on equality. You and your VEA have chosen to work with each other – for your success. You are both professionals and business owners. In order for your partnership to be successful, it is important that you treat your VEA as a professional and fellow business owner, and not as an employee.
As you continue to work together, the relationship will grow, and you will come to rely on each other. While it is true that interdependence creates successful teams, Virtual Assistance does not work well when you become too dependent on your VEA because there will be times when she will not be immediately available to you. You must be able to jump in and handle things as needed from time to time, as she will do for you.
Your VEA is most likely masterfully skilled, completely ready, and 100% committed to providing you with the support you need, or you would not have chosen to work together; however, it is important to remember there may be a learning curve when you first begin working together. Naturally, she will need time to become familiar with your tasks, adapt to your working style, and learn about your business that may have taken you years to establish. Patience, understanding and guidance in helping her understand the “ins and outs” of your business initially will help move the relationship forward that much quicker and set the foundation to help your relationship get off to a strong start.
An effective Client/VEA partnership is created when both parties listen to and support each other. Your VEA will be bringing a great deal of experience and expertise to you and your business. She wants to serve you well, and will often share her ideas or make suggestions on ways to make your life easier and more productive. She is very creative, has years of experience working with other business professionals and business owners in the same capacity, and can guide you toward what will work best in your situation. Although not all her ideas or suggestions may work for you, and ultimately the decision is yours alone to make whether to act upon any of them or not, it is important to be open to the possibilities in order to create an effective partnership.
In order to get the most out of your partnership, you must feel good about letting go of doing everything yourself and be comfortable with delegating. It may be hard at first to delegate with complete confidence until you have seen the quality and results of your VEA’s work, but if you allow yourself to trust the process, in time, your comfort level will undoubtedly increase, and you will soon realize the value and benefits learning how to delegate effectively will bring to you and your business. Delegating effectively is simply being willing to transfer control of certain tasks and projects to your VEA, and trusting her to take care of them for you so you will have more time to focus on other things such as your core business activities or personal interests. Initially, your VEA will be focused on learning the in’s and out’s of your business and working style while your focus will be on building a rapport and getting to know more about her. As you move through this initial phase, together you will be able to determine the tasks that your VEA could easily take off your “to do” list to optimize your time even more.
Feedback is important for the relationship to strengthen and grow. Expressing gratitude and appreciation for going the extra mile, recognizing a job well done, and providing constructive feedback when something needs correcting all are critical factors in shaping a successful partnership.
As you can see, there are many facets to the Client/VEA relationship. As the relationship develops over time, a dynamic grows of mutual respect and support that richly enhances both of you. Through this joint commitment, you forge a successful and effective partnership, and through this partnership, your VEA is able to enhance your business and help you to achieve your goals.
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Author bio: Lisa Salem is a professional and experienced Virtual Executive Assistant, Transcriptionist, and Nurture Marketing Consultant. She provides off-site, dedicated administrative and business support services on an ongoing or as-needed basis to small/home-based business owners, solo professionals, executives, and other individuals who need support, but don’t have access to or want to hire an on-site employee .
As the Founder and Managing Member of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC, she brings over 20 years of administrative and office management experience to her clients and her business. Lisa is passionate about what she does, and strives to promote the Virtual Assistance industry to help make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Her style is easy going, yet focused, with emphasis placed on building solid relationships with her clients. She never hesitates to go the extra mile to exceed clients expectations by providing quality service, excellent value, and total satisfaction to ensure long-term dedication, loyalty, and results.
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