A great tip for effective leadership is to always make sure that your entire team is effectively communicating, and that everyone understands that they are working toward the same goal. That might seem obvious, but it can also be a practice that is surprisingly easy to lose track of. I’ll give you a good example:
Back in 1999, NASA lost a $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter because one design team used the Metric System, while the other was using English Imperial. It’s true. They were unable to properly calculate the craft’s acceleration and it subsequently vanished into space. Oops!
In that scenario, I’m sure the communication within each team was excellent. After all, they were able to successfully design and launch a Martian Climate Orbiter. However, that alone was not the full mission, and so it ultimately failed.
The stakes with your business may not be so high in the grand scheme of things. But forget the grand scheme of things, the stakes are even more important than that for you. And having accurate communication within your team is a must for success.
This is especially true when it comes to your virtual team. Your communications with your VA’s will be different from what you have with your clients, customers, or on-site employees. It will also be a critical factor for your successful implementation of Virtual Assistants.Your communications with your VA’s will be different from what you have with your clients, customers,… Click To Tweet
Another good leadership tip is: take the time to sketch out a plan specifically designed for how you will handle communications with your Virtual Assistants before you even begin staffing.
Clear and detailed instructions start with the job description
Some leadership advice for new leaders is that effectively communicating with your VA’s begins from the moment you post a job opening. It is all about creating an accurate description of the duties, responsibilities, pay structure, expectations, and the vision of your business.
Having a comprehensive description accomplishes a couple of things. It will help you weed out unqualified applicants. You will get a few of these anyway, even with a good description. However, if a job posting is too vague, anyone who remotely thinks they have something to offer will flock in your direction. Promising candidates will get lost in the shuffle.
Secondly, qualified applicants will be able to speak intelligently and with some degree of depth about their experience related to the duties that you have outlined. When you have described the job accurately and in detail, you give the best-suited room to shine in their applications.
You may also be looking for different VA’s to fulfill different functions. In these instances, take the time to create multiple job posts. Putting out a single posting that lists several very different needs might scare off people that are highly qualified for a specific position.
On a final note, you may remember in some of my other tips on becoming a good leader, I said that communicating the vision of your company is a must for entrepreneurs. You need to do this even when hiring VA’s. You will want to identify VA’s who are ready to get on board with what your vision if you can, and not just working for a paycheck.
Benefits of detailed instructions on the job
As with your job description, you will find that there are a number of benefits to providing clear and detailed instructions once the work begins.
Not only will this improve the accuracy of your VA’s work and increase their productivity, it will also help you to get more done as well. If your instructions are clear, you should be free to go about your workday with minimal requests from your VA for clarification.
In fact, this can be a great indicator to determine whether or not you’ve hired the right person. If your VA is off to the races with a job assignment and returns high-quality work without the need for further direction, then you’ve probably performed well in your hiring.
On the other hand, if you have multiple VA’s constantly peppering you with requests for explanations, then you might want to take a closer look at the instructions you’ve been providing. A tip for effective leadership is that often times as managers we lose track of the fact that others do not know our businesses as well as we do. So take a second look at the information you are sending out. See if you are omitting important details that might allow your VA’s to be more effective.
Give clear instructions on communication methods
Do you prefer Skype? Email? A phone call? A Monday morning video conference? Do you have ‘Do Not Disturb’ hours? Make sure that your VA’s are aware of all of these. Set guidelines so that your VA’s know that you are available, just not available constantly.
Having these guidelines can be just as important as communicating the details of the job. It is going to make your working relationship run much more smoothly. And understanding expectations allows both you and your virtual assistants to be more efficient and productive.
Clear and detailed doesn’t necessarily mean numerous
Another tip for effective leadership is that constantly giving your virtual assistants elaborate and exacting instructions can defeat the entire purpose of having VA’s in the first place. It can take up too much of your valuable time creating and disseminating this information. Often, a few instructions that are clear and easy to follow work better than continuous direction.
To what degree you want to empower your VA’s will be particular to your circumstances. But sometimes you can greatly increase your efficiency, and that of your VA’s, if you can come up with some clear and simple guidelines that cover many of the situations they will face.
Finally, keep them in the loop
Sometimes VA’s can be out of sight and out of mind. Additionally, sometimes a change in the plan may affect their work in ways you don’t immediately recognize. It’s a good idea to always keep your VA’s apprised of project changes—even if you don’t think it affects their particular job. You may be surprised sometimes to find out that it does.
When possible, have VA’s on Skype or otherwise conferencing in with the rest of your team whenever changes are discussed. Again, they may bring up points about their duties or about aspects of the project from their vantage point that you had not even considered.