If you’re thinking of working with a Virtual Assistant (VA), an obvious concern is trusting someone you have probably never met in person with key aspects of your business.
But to grow your business, you have to start somewhere, and we understand that letting go of things you’ve always done from day one is easier said than done.
Why Worry About Building Trust?
You may view hiring a Virtual Assistant as just like hiring any other contractor… you ask them to do a job and that’s all there is to it. But the chances are you’ll be working on a 1:1 basis with your VA, they may have access to some confidential information, and you will want them to be thinking ahead for you.
I’m guessing you’re looking at working with a Virtual Assistant to boost your productivity, and being able to genuinely trust your VA will make a massive difference to the success of the working relationship.
Firstly, as with any business relationship, it’s all about respect for each other. Without that, the partnership is doomed. Respect works both ways, and this in turn should lead to greater openness and honesty between the two of you.
Having the freedom for open and honest discussions between you and your Virtual Assistant will undoubtedly benefit your business. They can bring a different point of view to the tasks you’re delegating to them or may suggest a more efficient way of doing something.
They may have other equally ambitious clients with growing businesses, and by demonstrating you are open to looking at things differently, your VA will be encouraged to discuss the experiences they have gained from working with these businesses, if they see they could benefit you.
Trust and respect for your Virtual Assistant increases their loyalty to you. As well as handling the tasks you delegate to the best of their ability, your VA will look out for you, bring other opportunities they come across to your attention, and can become an integral part of your team.
Building trust is crucial to enabling you to increase your productivity, which is why you’re working with a Virtual Assistant in the first place!
And one more thing...
An article by Inc.com argues that prioritising trust within your company is more important than prioritising growth! It says…
“Going for growth at the expense of trust can give a company a short-term boost, but it undermines credibility in the long-run, internally and externally. Without trust, employees don’t value their leaders or feel valued themselves. Without trust, customers doubt your company’s messaging or products and eventually fall away”.
And this applies equally working with a Virtual Assistant.
If You Don’t Build Trust Working with a Virtual Assistant?
If you don’t build sufficient trust with your Virtual Assistant, their effectiveness will be diminished, meaning your business is not running as efficiently as it could. Here a few things to bear in mind:
If your Virtual Assistant feels you don’t trust them, they could prioritise their other clients work over yours.
Rather than allowing your VA to get on with their tasks, you may be more inclined to continually check up on their progress, and how they are handling the tasks, if you don’t trust them 100%. This slows them down, takes up more of your time and energy, and becomes a negative influence on the working relationship.
A lack of trust can lead to poor communication. From a Virtual Assistant perspective, poor communication can mean they don’t fully understand what you’re asking them to do, particularly if you don’t give them the space to ask for clarification, mistakes are made, and deadlines missed.
Inefficient use of your Virtual Assistant
If you don’t fully trust your VA, you’re less likely to trust them with your more important, or complex tasks. The result is you’re still doing these tasks yourself instead of focusing on your higher value activities.
They will ‘drop’ you!
Any VA that feels they are not trusted or valued, will at some point decide to ‘drop’ you and work with other clients. Every time this happens, you will have to go through the whole process again of looking for a new Virtual Assistant, interviewing several, training your new VA in the way that you work, and integrating them into your business. Do you really want this disruption?
Your Virtual Assistant will have their own network of contacts. At any point, one of their contacts may have a new opportunity that could benefit you. We have connected several of our clients with other clients resulting in successful collaborations. If trust is missing, your VA is not going to bring an opportunity to you.
So, How Do You Build Trust?
While there are many ways, here are a few tips to help smooth the transition from stranger to your trusted ‘right-hand’ person:
To start with, ensure the contract between you and your VA has a robust confidentiality clause, which stipulates they must not share any confidential information without written consent from you.
What are your expectations?
Before hiring a Virtual Assistant, set out your expectations in terms of the tasks you want them to handle, both now and potentially in the future, timescales for completing work and any deadlines, and the level of responsibility you expect them to take. They will have other clients and will want to ensure they have the capacity meet your expectations.
Understand their expectations
Your Virtual Assistant will be working with other clients and have their own personal and family life outside of business. While they will give you a professional service and often go ‘above and beyond’ what is expected, you should also respect their availability, it’s not 24/7!
A good way of building trust is to start slowly.
At first ask your VA to handle just one or two smaller tasks. Starting this way allows you to get to know them better, how quickly they work and how much initiative they take. Then, when you’re more comfortable, you can pass over more responsibility.
We’ve discussed this already, but business relationships are all about good communication.
Talk regularly and be clear in what you are asking your VA to do. In return, allow them to ask questions, raise any concerns and encourage them to make suggestions if they think there’s a better way of doing things.
Our blog, ‘7 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Virtual Assistant’ also discusses the importance of good communication, see Mistake #5.
Obviously agree their fees before hiring your VA. But, once agreed, don’t try to haggle their rate down. Respect (that word again) that a Virtual Assistant is a professional, just like you, and the service they are providing is built on their skills and experience. Once you start haggling (you might call it negotiation), trust and respect can only go one way.
And always pay your Virtual Assistant’s invoices promptly. Having to regularly chase payment does nothing for the relationship.
And one more thing…
Yes, it’s a professional business relationship, but also take the time to get to know them a little on a personal level and be interested in them. After all, you’re working together on a 1:1 basis and any human relationship works better when you show interest in the other person.
Trust, and Working with a Virtual Assistant... Final Thoughts
A successful client and Virtual Assistant working relationship is all about trust. Make the effort to do this from the outset, and you will reap the dividends far quicker than you would ever expect.
The benefits you receive from having complete trust in your VA include increased productivity, more focused time for your clients, business growth and strategy, and your business running smoothly in the background.