Whether you are the client or the VA, using an onboarding process helps build long-term efficiency. Clients usually hire a VA because they need someone yesterday – particularly if the VA is covering or replacing someone. Even though everyone wants to hit the ground running, a few steps up front can help put things on track. Here’s an A to Z of some key words to remember as you build a fantastic working relationship.
Acclimate. There will be an adjustment period for both client and VA.
Bond. You don’t get the same experience that working in the same space affords. However, carve out a little “water cooler” schmoozing time. Get to know each other. It opens the workflow.
Communicate. Make time (and set the tone for) open dialog.
Delegate. Know what you feel comfortable assigning to your VA.
Efficiency. This does not always mean immediate speed. It means building a strong work plan that works well.
Face to Face. While much of your communication may take place through email and text, dedicate a meeting here or there over video conference. This is particularly useful when you have screen-share training to do, but can also add the human touch now and again.
Go-getter. VAs need to be proactive. If down-time or silence is happening, reach out to the client and close the gap.
Help. Be available to each other to assist and avoid the blame game.
Invest. While it may seem costly at the beginning to spend more billable hours on training, a solid onboard can trim significant lost time off your bottom line over time.
Juggling. A gifted VA does (and should) do their best to minimize how much their client feels like they are one of many. Communicating deadlines and expectations helps your VA to prioritize all collective tasks into their daily work flow. If something is urgent, say so. If a VA is unsure of a deadline, they should ask.
Keep up. Maintain regular contact and review checklists often. Task management in a virtual work environment should be managed by both sides to prevent any accidental missed connections.
Level with me. If something is working really well, say so. If it’s not working well, say so.
Manage. Particularly at the beginning, your VA may rely on you for more direct guidance.
Navigate. A good VA will be in a constant research-oriented mindset. Clients should encourage VAs to dedicate some time each week to getting to know the texture and tone of your clients, customers, and audience. Little things like looking at your clients’ website helps your VA to better understand the big picture and ultimately serve you better.
Open-minded. Both client and VA should be open-minded to each other’s preferences and suggestions. The client decides ultimately, but the discourse is often valuable.
Patience. Like any hire, understanding the nooks and crannies takes time.
Questions. Ask them. Don’t be afraid of them. Value them.
Revisit. Sometimes it takes more than one go-through to understand a task. Revisit steps or seek clarity as often as needed.
Shared workspace. Use of mutually accessible software, documents, files, calendars, etc. are a lifesaver. When you can both see the same things in real time, you are likely to make sure everything is completed correctly and efficiently.
Train. Make sure that all of the processes and tools of the trade are understood.
Understand. Understand the role, tasks, expectations, limitations, skillset, workflow, systems, culture, etc.
Virtual. You may both need to remind yourself that some adjustments need to be made on both sides to make a virtual working pace work well. Suss out what works best for you both and meet in the middle.
Work smart. In support of onboarding, maintain a regular schedule of touch-base calls/chat sessions. Prepare agendas and desired outcomes/goals for these sessions.
X, Y, Z. Expect that this will be a learning ground for both of you. Approach it with an open door policy. An A+ attitude will make the grade!
Submitted by Darcie