If you are outsourcing or using virtual assistants, what is one way you can make sure that they represent you well from so far away?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Utmost Inclusion
Virtual assistants should be treated as equal members of the team and included on all company correspondence. There should be no difference in the level of communication that occurs whether they are located in the office next door or across the ocean.
2. Detailed Guides on Team Conduct
I’ve had many virtual assistants over the years, and one way that I’ve managed to keep a consistency between them is to have a kind of “Bible” for all of them to follow that includes conduct, instructions and tips for dealing with our company. I had my first assistant create it and since then every assistant after has added to it, making it more effective with every version.
3. Content Reviews
I would get them to schedule content for me to review before it went live and outlay brand guidelines as well as tone of voice and ethical guidelines. But ultimately, you have to trust them.
4. A Deeper Understanding of You Personally
I shed light into the deeper parts of my non-business life. Of course I integrate them and make sure they understand my company’s culture. But I also give them glimpses into my communication style and other parts of my life that I like to share publicly. Then they can weave those things into interesting business communications with a flair normally not seen in stodgy, boring business content.
5. Practice Runs
Any time you hit the ground running, you’re going to face more challenges than you’d face after a practice run. Time invested early on is an investment that compounds.
6. The Google Apps Email Delegation Feature
We’ve used the Gmail delegation feature to make sure we can oversee all of the messaging that employees send out on the company’s behalf. We also audit everyones customer service tickets, and we randomly jump on our customer chat app to see if customers are getting their questions answered quickly and efficiently. There are plenty of technological solutions to reviewing employee messaging.
7. A Strong Relationship
One of the biggest mistakes managers make is not investing time in building relationships with their remote workers. But this is important, as you will be more likely to retain them and they will be motivated to do great work. Once you have built a relationship they will be comfortable asking you questions when they are not sure of the right action.
8. Genuine Teamwork
Because you have less direct contact with employees who are not physically in the office, it would be wise to be encouraging in every interaction you have with them. By really getting to know them and making them feel that they have a stake in the company and what you’re doing, they have no reason to misrepresent you.
9. Constant Communication
They need to know about your company, what you do, your goals and any necessary procedures. The more the virtual assistant knows about you and your business, the better he/she will represent you and your company’s best interests.
10. Nitpicking in a Positive Way
At the end of the day, everything that goes out is a representation of our business. We’ve learned that nitpicking need not have a negative connotation, it’s actually nothing more than ensuring the safety of your company’s voice. With all of our assistants, we run over everything with a red pen. As a result, our company’s voice never wavers from it’s true tone.
11. In-Person Meetings
One of the best decisions I made when it came to a couple of my virtual team members was traveling to meet them. Yes, there are tools you can use to communicate and things you can do to build relationships online, but in my opinion nothing beats an in-person meetup. These meetings make a virtual team member truly feel like they are part of the business and proud to represent it.