When I talk to people about virtual assistants, one of the questions I get asked a lot is this:
“Can I trust my virtual assistant?”
Well, the answer may initially seem indirect. I have to say, it’s a solid “Yes and no.” But if you’ll read on, you’ll come to understand that trusting your VA is a process that, if you approach it carefully and intelligently, will pay off enormously in the end.
Those new to VAs sometimes worry about it. You’re dealing with a foreigner in a foreign country, you’ve never met them face-to-face, and you worry about how much of your business you can share. And those are reasonable concerns. So, let’s take a look at it, based on my personal experiences.
Firstly, there’s a difference between home-based and office-based VAs. I tend to feel a little more comfortable with an office-based VA because they’re working in a structured environment, being supervised and so on. It gives me that extra feeling of safety and confidentiality. But, at the same time, I do have friends with home-based VAs who have worked with them for a long time, and who have never had any drama with them.
But, let’s talk about building trust, and how much you can give your VA access to. Personally, I have a team of 5 virtual assistants, directly looking after me, and I trust them implicitly. So, how have I reached that point?
First of all, it comes down to recruitment. Just like you’d be recruiting someone in your own country, face-to-face, you want to really feal comfortable with your VA before you hire them. When I’m interviewing new VAs, I’m really looking for attitude and fit within our team. It’s not so much about skills, because those can be learned. But I want somebody who can fit in. That’s because a team at work is very much like a family. And you want people who are going to fit into that family well, that the rest of the family is going to trust, and they’re going to develop with the team. You kind of get a gut-feel when you’re hiring people, whether they’re going to fit in or not. And that gut feeling, and that hiring decision, are the first and most important foundational step in building trust with a virtual assistant.
But then, once you’ve hired a good worker, with a great attitude, who fits in with the team, how do you develop trust?
The first thing I have to say is that trust is a two-way thing. You have to start off slowly, by giving trust in small things. As the relationship becomes more trustworthy, then you can start to share more. In truth, it’s probably a bit foolish not to take things cautiously. That’s because, wherever you go, there will always be bad people. You can’t know until you try, but you don’t have to jump in with both feet at the beginning of things.
So, the way I do that is to start out by assigning tasks that are not overly confidential, but which, by delegating them, saves me a lot of time. That way, I still get value for my money, even while I’m developing a relationship with my VA. But at the same time, I risk very little. And then, gradually, I will add tasks that require a little more discretion and confidentiality, and we’ll see how it goes.
It is true that developing a trusting bond between you and a virtual assistant is a little bit harder, because you don’t see them face-to-face every day. But it helps to remember that they’ve got to trust you as well. They have to trust that you won’t overload them or put too much pressure on them, that you’ll be fair while they’re making the transition to serving you competently and efficiently. You’ll have to let them make a few mistakes and not be too harsh. And let them ask lots of questions. Remember that your new VA will probably be concerned about looking foolish, or not looking skilled enough. For the sake of their job security, a good VA will feel the need to impress you. So, really encourage them to ask questions. Make sure they understand it’s okay not to know how to do something, as long as they’re willing to learn and improve. That’s an important building block to the trust relationship you want to develop with your VA.
For me, my VAs have access to everything. My personal assistant, especially, has my greatest trust. She handles all of my emails, has access to my credit cards, and really everything. But obviously, don’t do that from day one. You’ll have to develop trust before you ever get that far. My VAs are really like family, like having extra kids in the family. So, think of it that way. Show an interest, be supportive, and you’ll have a really trustworthy, long-lasting relationship – and it’s going to help you enormously, both personally and in your business.
So, in conclusion, let’s get back to the question.
“Can you trust your VA?”
And the short answer is, “Yeah you can, but don’t be silly from day 1! Let that trust build.”