Working with Virtual Assistants by host Cena Block

9 Ways MOMpreneurs Can Avoid Breakdowns Using Virtual Assistants

Many MOMpreneurs need the assistance of virtual help to create profitable businesses in the time they are willing to devote to business. After all, we are juggling the needs of our busy families WHILE running our business operations so it often takes a village to accomplish what we want to! I have had the pleasure of working with virtual assistants, contractors and many other helpers throughout the first years of launching my business and these are the best ways I’ve learned to avoid mishaps, miscommunication and breakdowns. Special thanks to Today’s Admin,  Reneé Maniscalco of Renee’ the VA, Janice Clarke of BizMSolutions.com and Janet Barclay of Golden Horseshoe Virtual Assistants, author of Working Effectively with Your Virtual Assistant.

Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What entrepreneurs need to do better to avoid breakdowns, mishaps and miscommunication:

  1. Postpone emotional responses and ask questions first. The best way to end your relationship with a great VA is to scream first and ask questions later… When things go wrong some people automatically start barking orders and throwing last minute solutions in place without stopping to evaluate what’s happening. When you work to resolve the situation together with your VA, better solutions will always result.  Very often a knee jerk reaction by an angry entrepreneur creates more problems than they had with the original mistake.  Instead of overreacting, stop, drop and contact your VA to ask questions and evaluate how to handle the next steps.  An ounce of prevention will solve your problem quicker and allow you both to maintain mutual respect. Also, one technique that has proven very helpful for me as a manager and now as a manager of a virtual team – is to take responsibility for the task first. In other words – ASSUME it is YOU, not your VA. In other words, what did you do (or not do) that led your VA down a certain path.  By assuming responsibility for the mistake from the get-go, you’ll have a much less heated, less-defensive situation to address and likely get the situation solved more effectively. Even if it wasn’t YOU – there are probably things you could have done differently that may have helped.
  2. Handle conflicts and disagreements right away.  Conflict is natural in any relationship and it certainly is in business.  When conflict arises, it is essential to identify potential red flags and address them right away, before they become larger issues. There are two things I can think of: Respect the VA’s schedule. Scheduling calls ahead of time and not dropping projects on them with 2-hour deadlines – unless absolutely necessary – is just the right thing to do. A VA can’t organize every aspect of your life. Sometimes it’s OK to ask for quick turnaround, but for a VA, delivering good, quality work on time is important. If the client constantly puts the VA in a situation where she is rushing and stressed, it’s not usually good for the relationship or the final result. And just because you mark something urgent, by the way, doesn’t mean the VA *can* get to it right away! You cannot forget that there are other clients in the VA’s schedule too. If you can’t share, you’re probably better off hiring an actual assistant. If you’re constantly having the urge to look over your VA’s shoulder, you should have a person physically working with you in your space. Face it, that you may just NOT be a good candidate for virtual support. I think there’s an inherent independence in a good VA and they treasure that. If you are one to make a VA feel guilty for being busy with other clients’ work, that’s unfair to them, and will get in your way. If you’re more hands-on with your staff and want near-constant interaction, you should consider hiring an on-site assistant.  Some work is better done face to face. Be fair and assess if the tasks and responsibilities you need completed must be done in your presence. If so – hire an on-site resource to help you.
  3. Regularly communicate and check in.  Take a moment to share whatever your current situation is with your VA. Let her help you create a plan and put systems in place to ensure every job gets done to your satisfaction. If email is your primary method of communication, answer your VA’s emails as quickly as possible to avoid any delays in the completion of your project. Otherwise, it may be a good idea to schedule regular telephone meetings. Whatever you do, scheduling regular meetings is a must-have. Some VA’s will require these meetings as a part of doing business, while others will bill you for their time. It depends on the structure, arrangement and business practices. If your VA does not require meetings – be sure YOU schedule them in regularly so you can touch base and check on their progress.
  4. Block time for administrative tasks you must do. It is important for YOU to create an admin date weekly in your own calendar (or more often if you have many VAs on tasks)! Block some time in your schedule to respond to VA tasks, provide information, or review and approve the work that has been completed for you.  Often VA’s are waiting on you to complete their tasks. The longer the time takes for you to get back to them, the more difficult it will be for you to get tasks accomplished on time.
  5. Image courtesy of photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net Image courtesy of photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net    Estimate time on tasks better. If you have a task or project you’d like to have completed, talk about how long you expect it to take. Be specific about what you want and the time limit you desire to be spent for each project. Ask your VA’s input about how realistic your estimates are… and build in check points EARLY and OFTEN in the process. If your VA is running into trouble or things are taking longer than first expected, you can easily intervene and redirect work before it costs you too much!
  6. Realize you’re hiring an experienced professional.  When I say I couldn’t run my business without my current support staff and virtual assistants I am telling the truth.  My VA’s have built my website, helped me with my shopping cart,  managed my social media posts, help me with client support, and saved me tens of thousands of dollars in mistakes I probably would have made, and THOUSANDS of hours of time because they are just better at things than I am! Seek your VA’s advice before trying out new systems or programs. Your VA may have already had the opportunity to try various tools and will be happy to make recommendations that will save you time and money.
  7. Set clear expectations. Make sure you discuss both yours and your VA’s – including how work assignments will be handled, turnaround time, and communication during the assignment. Discuss how often you need to hear from your VA and how you prefer to communicate.
  8. Create an emergency plan. Be sure to create contingencies about what to do if things go wrong, and have an emergency process and contact system in place. Things go wrong, things break down… It is best to have a ‘workable’ plan to go to when something happens!
  9. Give more positive feedback.  Everyone wants to know that they’ve done a good job, even your VA.   Thank them often, and every once in a while do something really special to let them know that you value their time and their contribution to your business. Celebrate your successes and share them with your support people regularly.  Although it is your business, your VA has a vested interest in your success and are happy to celebrate and support you along the way. Have you hugged your VA today? Do so.. They’ll love you even more!

If you need assistance with getting assistants…

This is one area in your business development when it may be a really good idea to work with a coach. Consider working with me to document what you do, systematize and streamline your business processes and find the right type of support for your business needs. Contact me for a free Discovery Call to see if I can help as your coach to light your path, save you time and help you determine what you need help with and who best can support you!

I  want to thank my special and wonderful support people for providing MOST of the great content for this post: Reneé Maniscalco of Renee’ the VA, Janice Clarke of BizMSolutions.com and Janet Barclay of Golden Horseshoe Virtual Assistants, author of Working Effectively with Your Virtual Assistant.

What ways have you used to avoid breakdowns with your VA’s?

Any suggestions to help readers? Please share in the comments below!

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Meet Cena Block

Cena Block is a successful MOMpreneur on a mission. She is a coach, talk show host, speaker, author, and founder of Sane Spaces, (sanespaces.com) and the upcoming MagnificentMompreneurs.Com – from Mom to Wow®.  Her private coaching, group programs, and teleseminars kick-start MOMpreneurs and help them thrive. She hosts ‘Managing MOMpreneur Mayhem’ a bi-weekly show on Word of Mom Radio.  To access her free training for MOMpreneurs go to sanespaces.com. You can find her @sanespaces on any of the social media sites, or contact her directly at cena@sanespaces.com.

– See more at: http://wordofmomradio.com/12-strategies/#sthash.rws7IoOD.dpuf

About Dori DeCarlo

Word of Mom Radio ~ the place MOMpreneurs and Business Women meet, share, empower and inspire each other. Join your host, Dori DeCarlo at http://blogtalkradio.com/wordofmomradio on Tuesday"s and Thursday"s ~ sharing the wisdom of women.

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