What we do at Get Staffed Up is helping lawyers delegate their way to freedom. We are very, very big on the delegation, but we have a different twist; instead of having someone in-house and really adding to the payroll and the overhead — and the entrepreneurial community being one of the most stressed communities —, we have decided to look elsewhere and find virtual staff all over the world which does have a price component but not a trade-off for talent. We find the best talent all over the world with a system that we’ve developed over the years and have Kristen David from Uplevel Your Business, Uplevel Your Life! had a lot to do with that.
We’re going to talk about 7 tips on how to onboard your virtual assistant for ongoing success. It is one of the areas that is generally overlooked, and it’s important that you have a plan for that we are a talented finding and placement company. We are not the training and ongoing onboarding company, and it’s really important that those two things are distinguished and that you do find somebody exceptional like Kristen David to work with to help you if you’re not experienced in those areas. You can get super great Free Resources by Kristen David HERE and, without further ado, let me dive into what we’ve developed as the seven tips for how to onboard your virtual assistant for ongoing success:
1. Give WRITTEN instructions.
The number one thing is to start by giving written instructions. On this other BLOG we talked about a weekly scorecard and a daily end-of-day report but there’s a lot of project-based work that entrepreneurs and business owners give their virtual staff members and it’s very important to do those things in writing with some key components and this is something that I have heard from Kristen David so many times (WHO – WHAT – WHEN) and that has been ingrained into me and it is so true. So, WHO is pretty obvious at this point, but WHAT is the outcome you’re looking for, and WHEN is the deadline? For example, I need you to find 300 networking groups in the United States by February 20th because we need to put together an email offering us as the speaker… that’s a big project! But you said what you need to find, which networking groups, and by when you need them. And then, of course, you’re going to check in and see if that timeline will be met based on your daily check-ins.
2. Listen carefully.
Number two is to listen carefully. When you’re dealing with virtual staff team members for the first time it’s new and it’s not the same as dealing with somebody who is next door across the hall. In-person you can communicate more easier and have in-person touch points. So, you’re going to need patience when you’re learning how to communicate with someone virtually because even on a great video system there’s a half-second lag and sometimes there’s talking over on one another. What you need to do is listen carefully and actually, listening helps you determine how that person learns and digest information. Communication will always be the number one challenge in any business, so make sure you take the time to listen. It will help you learn a lot more about your virtual staff member if you’re listening carefully.
3. Be objective.
So, you’ve given clear instructions, you have listened carefully, and now you’re giving some feedback and want to be careful about how you do this. Look, you are dealing with a human being, so it’s the same for in-house team members and offshore team members. Some people have really thick skin, other people don’t, and especially when you are dealing with a new team member who is virtual, there are some nerves and there’s some ‘am I going to do a good job?’… so, try to be patient when you’re giving that feedback which can help if you implement number four, which is:
4. Make them a part of your team.
When you include your virtual staff member in your daily huddles in the morning or team meetings, bring a camera, and set up a TV, among other things that make them feel a part of the team, it really helps to build trust and establish loyalty. Also, it shows that this is not just someone you’re going to get projects to when you don’t care about them; you want them to be a part of your team and part of your culture.
5. Take responsibility.
I’m not going to hold back and that’s OK because we’re all different, but you need to take responsibility. One of my favorite quotes by Tony Robbins is, “There’s no such thing as a bad team, only a bad leader”. If you have recruited a bunch of people and failed to train, failed to onboard, failed to develop, then it’s really easy to say they’re all terrible and that it’s not your fault. You better take a step back and train your team the way you want to help build your company culture. Remember to always be the type of person that others want to work for. Of course, some people don’t cut it, and, yes, you fire them and move on, but you don’t need to say that virtual doesn’t work for you if you have only tried it once. Maybe you didn’t give great feedback or take the time to onboard the team by working with somebody like Kristen David to learn how to do it the right way.
6. Be Cognizant of Cultural Differences.
We’ve all made this mistake but I’ll give you a specific example we have found in a specific country. I don’t like to paint a broad brush and I don’t want to stereotype, but there are cultural differences that we need to be aware of, not only religious holidays, but in some parts of the world the education system trains them to be creative and in other parts of the world they’re taught to just do the checklist: they do exactly what they’re told to do, don’t take any initiative and we’ve read that in books and then we found out about it ourselves. So you have to have this clear when you’re hiring. Do you want someone who is creative and is going to think for themselves, or do you want a box checker? And both are very valuable, by the way, just make sure you know which one you’re dealing with.
7. Teach Them to Propose solutions.
Last but not least — and, by the way, these tips are not only for virtual assistants, but you can use these also with your in-house employees —, one thing we’d really like to develop is to teach your virtual staff member to propose solutions. When you say, “we’ll try this, try that,” try to take a step back and ask them ‘how do you think we should handle this problem?’ and you’ll be amazed at somebody across the world, working through a camera, sharing with you all of the cool things that they can come up with. Maybe not all of them will work, but some of them are very good, and you may think, ‘wait a minute, I would have never thought about that, that’s great! We’re going to implement that!’. And, again, you’re building trust and boosting engagement and loyalty by showing that you care and you listen. Sometimes just giving them something that they helped to implement really builds bridges and goes a long way.