Setting boundaries and rules whilst maintaining good work ethic as a VA
Developing your boundaries is a crucial step to creating and maintaining a healthy relationship with your clients.
Boundaries come in many shapes and forms and when you consider that you are working with many different personalities who may not think the same way. It’s really important that you teach them how to treat you. If you let someone cross your boundaries, they will be taught that it’s okay. Set your boundaries, and then stick to them. You’ll run a better business, and your clients will appreciate it too!
Boundaries are key to a successful VA/Client relationship. Make sure that time, energy, and integrity are protected for everyone involved. The biggest and most rewarding client interactions come from my boundaries around communication.
Your clients will appreciate knowing the rules and respect you for setting and communicating them with confidence.
Focus on Exceptional Communication
- Timely, efficient communication should be a priority. Of course, communication with a single client should not consistently and unreasonably encroach on your personal time or negatively affect your productivity. However, being available demonstrates that your client’s project and satisfaction are important to you.
- In addition to timely and thorough communication, it’s also important to make your clients feel comfortable being open and honest with you. They should feel that their ideas and concerns will be taken seriously.
It is all about compromise
Yes it really is all about compromise especially when you are working as a virtual assistant. Concentrate on doing most of your work during working hours, be available when there is a crisis and turn your phone/ laptop off when you need a bit of YOU time!
Obviously it does not matter what boundaries we set and precautions we take, other people are not always going to follow our lead. It’s up to us to set, and keep, those boundaries, no matter how difficult it might be at the time. I would say that it’s vital to our health to do this.
Good work ethics, transparency and personal integrity are three key aspects that every virtual assistant needs. We define integrity for a virtual worker as having personal standards that will not be broken by the opinion of others.
Rules to follow
- First, do not create situations that you will later regret.
- Second, people will act as we allow them to. If you don’t say something when something isn’t right, then the person assumes it is okay.
- Third, professionally communicate when setting boundaries yet be firm.
Action steps to implement:
- Develop your ideal day.
- Set your boundaries based on your ideal day.
- Communicate those boundaries to potential and current clients
- Address any issues immediately before it gets out of hand and becomes a strain on the working relationship.
Setting healthy boundaries is good for you and your client. It teaches them how to work with you in a way that stimulates win-win situations.
Effective boundaries create positive client relationships.
4 Secrets to Growing Your Business’ Sales Exponentially This Year With The Use of Social Media
What new small business owner or entrepreneur doesn’t need MORE SALES in their business? Especially when it’s free! Social Media offers endless potential and opportunities for the young entrepreneur or established company to drive traffic to their website and increase their sales for free. In this beginner’s guide to using social media for growing your sales, we are going to take an in-depth look at what it takes to drive that potential sales through the roof using social media to target your audience. In this modern day there’s not a person that doesn’t have a mobile device which is excellent news for the business owner. Just imagine crushing those sales goals when you have the right audience at your disposal – a global audience available 24/7, 365 days of the year!
#1 Do your research
What you want is knowledge about your audience before starting any campaigns on social media. Consider and research the demographics of your target audience and use the information to determine which social media platforms to use to reach them and what type of media would be most likely to succeed.
#2 Quality content vs Quantity content
So, this is where you expect me to say, “Start a blog”, right? Wrong! If you don’t already have a blog for your website, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful FREE marketing tools to boost those sales and you might want to take a step back and first take a look at where to start when writing a blog post or how to improve your blogging. Our focus is on social media so that means you’ll need quality content to share. Take note my emphasis on quality content. Your biggest faux pax on social media is to share a whole lot of content without providing value to your audience. Don’t just post and share random stuff. Make sure what you have to say or share will either engage or entertain your audience.
A good guide is to use the 80-20 rule, which means you share 80% content that engage and entertain the audience and 20% sales content. Hard-selling is a definite NO! It adds a desperate flavour to your business that will chase away your target audience faster than you can schedule your next post.
#3 Consistency is key
Nothing is of greater value to improve your business’ online visibility than consistency. If you stuck to rule number two your content will be of value to your audience. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog, motivational quote or short video, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. Your audience will be anticipating your next post. A social media calendar will enable you to plan your posts to coincide with special dates and events to maximize the effect of your content. So, what’s better than using a social media scheduling tool to make sure you free up your time while sharing quality content on a consistent basis to all the platforms and targeted audiences of your choice.
#4 Engaging with your audience
Social media is about engaging your followers. If you don’t grasp that concept first and foremost your hard work will all be for nothing. Nothing is as important as responding to your audience’s conversations, likes and shares. This is how you build trust in your brand and develop a relationship that turns a follower into a client.
Do the research, create or curate the content. Be intentional, be consistent, find your own voice and style. In a world where we are often overloaded with digital content, we need to be unique. AND we are – so use it to your advantage to outshine your competition. You’ll be amazed at the results!!
What you can do to get great work ethic
Setting boundaries and rules whilst maintaining good work ethic as a Virtual Assistant
As a Virtual Assistant we are sometimes so hungry to get that next client and maintain the best working relationships with the ones we have that we sometimes forget that the key to success is actually to set some boundaries. Setting boundaries and laying down some ground rules with your clients need not be a daunting, scary thing, in fact if anything it should be a relief to you and could even show your client a whole other side of your personality which they may love. Assertive and confident professional remote worker – THAT’S YOU!
Now although it may be a necessity to set these boundaries to avoid things like burnout and less than average work being handed over to clients, you need to be able to do it in a proper manner and without coming across as bitchy and condescending. You also want to make the rules clear from the get-go, so things like what hours you are available to one specific client, what your actual working hours are and so forth need to be discussed right in the beginning to avoid any awkwardness further down the line.
Below I will discuss a few tips for setting up rules and structure within your business which will ensure your success and success for your client.
Boundaries for you and me
Your phone – Now although you have a phone and the general idea of a phone is to take calls you do not want clients calling you all hours of the day and night and weekends expecting answers. So you need to be clear that, if you do not have a phone purely for business, that you tell your client you are available for calls between hours x and y and thereafter there will be no response to calls or messages.
Set working hours – Most VA’s have more than one client and therefore would want to have specific times scheduled in order to provide the best most focused work to each individual client. This can be tweaked according to the workload of course as sometimes one client has nothing for you to do on a specific day, but another may have a mountain of tasks which are all urgent, you can then use your discretion, but setting some sort of guideline around this with your client is very important.
Treat your business like a business – All business’s have hours where they open and then the same for when they close, you as a virtual assistant are essentially running a business and should do the same. Business’s have rules and regulations, therefore so should you. A virtual assistant is not an employee and therefore does not have to adhere to the management from a client.
Having a task list – A task list is also great as you and the client can set up the tasks together that are needed for any particular day, if the client then tries to deviate from this you can respond by saying that because the list has being drawn up in a specific way you have planned accordingly and unfortunately any extra’s would have to wait for the following day. If you are unsure of what the priority task is it is always best to communicate and find out, this is also a good way of setting the rules that priority tasks are completed first but whatever falls outside of the normal working hours will be added to the following day.
At the end of the day we all want to be able to deliver top-notch service as a VA and we want to have as many clients as possible and keep everyone happy – but happiness comes from being honest and upfront about things. You never want to find yourself a few months down the line, when you realise you cannot handle the workload, telling a client you need to set boundaries, it will probably not end very well.
Be assertive, have a clear idea of what you can and cannot do in any one day and then have that chat with those clients and you will flourish.
Happy Virtual Assistant = Happy Client
How to love that difficult client
When we were celebrating the month of love, I thought it would be good to understand how come you can grow to love certain clients and others not so much. What is it about that client that makes it so easy to work with? What is it about that other one that makes you dread the moment you see their email or name on your screen. For me, it all boils down to learning every step of the way. It is easy to work with someone if you think alike and clearly understand each other. In my line of business, I sometimes have to guess where “this” is going, as location independence means that you are not always in front of your client to see their facial expression or hear the tone in their voice, and if it is a difficult client, then the stress levels can rise very quickly. My 5 tips in learning how to handle that difficult client/boss, and in the process maybe learning to love them:
Make sure you are dealing with a difficult client:
It is very easy to dislike a client/boss when you arrive at your first hiccup. When they confront you, you can feel unappreciative and deflated. But first, make sure that their reaction is noteworthy and correct. Be the bigger person and “man up” if you made a mistake. Learn from the mistake and move on quickly. Do not dwell! If the situation does not progress into more positive space, you will know it and can move on if needed. Try to handle the difficult client with great care and thought.
Stay one step ahead of the situation:
I have realized that my more “difficult” clients are the ones that like to micromanage. Maybe this is they reason they feel overwhelmed and difficult. To deal with this sort of behavior stay one step ahead of what is expected.
Make sure to have updated reports ready and delivered at short notice. Try not to give the client reason to micromanage and check up on you. Also, have tasks completed and double checked if correct before updating your client. To make sure you get everything done on time, find tools to help you get organized (Find sites to help How to get organized quickly and effectively)
Try to stay one step ahead of what the client wants. Sometimes a client will need something from you that you have never done before, and this can seem unreasonable. But try to learn as much as you can. Upskill yourself with programs, software, and systems to make your work easier. When your client needs something you already have a system in place to share information, work and progress effectively and timely. Visit app stores www.udemy.com for 1000s of quick online programs.
Be aware of their likes and dislikes:
The quickest way to understand your client is to take note of every conversation early on. Make sure to ask them what times are best to communicate with them. If you realize they are not very effective with communication, still give them timely updates. As a business owner, I love to know what is going on in my business. And even if the client does not acknowledge your updates, emails, calls or any communications, still do it, maybe they are just really bad at communicating. I am sure they still appreciates the effort. If the client gets difficult about a certain subject or matter, note that. Try to avoid such mistakes in the future. And always remember it is their business, respect their authority.
Be calm and focused:
One of my clients is very artistic and jumps around between topics and tasks. After every conversation, it felt like a freight train hit me, and yes, I made many mistakes because of that. I am a left brain, structure person, and she is more of right brain, imaginative person. I had to find a middle way to make sure I understood all the tasks and projects she gave.
The following easy steps helped me cope:
- Always take notes with every conversation, even if some of the notes seem mundane, it will probably help in the future. If I can, I put my client on speaker phone and record all conversations (always with the client`s consent). Afterward, I can play it back if needed.
- Make a “to do list”, and strikethrough when or delete that email from your inbox if the task is finished. These 2 practical ways can help you make sure that tasks are not missed between the hustle and bustle.
- Find a filing system that works for you. If your paperwork and filing system is out of whack, you will struggle to find something you are looking for. Learn online from Wikihow to do almost anything, even filing (Arrange a filing system)
Do not take it personal:
Every one of us differ. We can misunderstand each other very quickly and situations can escalate into something that was never meant to be. Once I got very upset with one of my clients about something silly he mailed me about. I read that email while I was very tired, and responded with a very stupid, sarcastic reply. Our relationship turned sour and I struggled for a long time to mend the situation. One year later and we are back on track. But all of this could have been avoided if I just left that email un-replied. Yes, he is still difficult and micromanages everyone, but I realized his company, his monkey, not my circus. Meaning by this is not to take it personal. Let the client make the decisions, you can still give your advice, but at the end rest by their decision. Sometimes when someone is not happy with themselves they also react out in a certain way. Remember, it is not about you, it is about them. Stay calm if you feel offended, and take yourself away from the situation, kindly get back to them later. You can never fight fire with fire.
If the client seems to be difficult all the time try these techniques to calm the situation:
- Stay on top of your work and give the client frequent status updates.
- Never complain to the client about their negativity, rather find a friend outside of work to blow off to.
- Maybe your client/boss is going through a very tough situation, try to stay calm and collective, and give it time, the season will probably pass.
- If your client/boss is rude and not in joint with your values, speak up immediately in a soft manner. If they cannot understand your frustrations, it would be better to move onto greener pastures.
- I have learned over the years a situation seems bad now, but tomorrow it weighs less. Take a breather during the difficult situation, and get back to your client later when they are more relaxed.
- Maybe ask if you can help with something ells. Someone trying to do something different from what they are appointed to do, always leaves an impression.
Make sure you remain kind to yourself and to one another
At the end, you will still get paid for good work you have done, even if your client/boss likes or dislikes you. Be the better, more mature, respectful person and change their attitude with kind, collective words. Stay on top of your game and come up with innovative ways to do your job more effectively. Let them see why they should love you, because you love them, RIGHT?
Tactics to Positively Overcome the Difficult Client
Irrespective of what industry you are in, there is always that odd difficult client that as a result of various factors can leave you feeling frustrated, angry, unmotivated and possibly even full of self-doubt. For some of us, the reaction to a difficult situation can be defensive for others it can be offensive which can have either positive of negative outcomes regardless.
Stepping out of your comfort zone to establish smart habits
The fact remains that there will always be clients that are a little harder to please than others, so the question at hand is, how do you handle those situations in a way that will have a positive outcome for both you and the client? Well, while in my previous role, I had done some research on the topic and I came across an article by Barbara Markway (Ph.D.) who has some excellent insight into handling difficult clients, which I will delve into a little further, but one of the factors she mentions amongst others is going about things in a way that may seem unnatural to you as first. What does this mean? Well simply put, we all have our ways of doing things, and sometimes it works other times it doesn’t but if your finding your not getting the outcome you want from a difficult situation – perhaps its time to step outside your comfort zone, try a new approach and create smart habits.
Some Tactics to be Used with the Client
Out of the many tips given in Barbara’s article, the following tactics on how to handle a difficult client stood out to me:
- Listen & Stay Calm. Listening is the number one step in dealing with “unreasonable” people. Everyone wants to feel heard, and although staying calm can be extremely difficult in an emotionally charged situation, real progress can’t take place until the other person feels acknowledged. While you’re listening, really focus on what the other person is saying, not what you want to say next. I have often said to people in the past, “I know your hearing me, but are you listening to me? There is a difference”. Taking the time to really listening to what someone else is saying, can give you a fresh perspective and clarity on a situation at hand.
- Reflect respect and dignity toward the other person. You don’t know what the other person is going through. Chances are, if a person is acting unreasonable, they are likely feeling some sort of emotional or mental strain for whichever reason and showing contempt will not help productively resolve the situation.
- Saying, “I understand,” usually makes things worse. Instead, say, “Tell me more so I can understand better.” This for me was an interesting point, because I personally have often used the term “I understand” countless times with clients and looking back it wasn’t always well received, looking at this approach has given me a new perspective on how a client would possible react to the situation differently.
- Saying, “I’m sorry,” or, “I’m going to try to fix this,” while establishing boundaries can go a long way toward defusing many situations. This tip can be quite difficult to follow when you feel your not the one in the wrong and are feeling defensive. Sometimes by being humble in the situation and saying the words “I’m sorry” or “I’m going to fix this” can completely diffuse a situation, and in turn can give you the opportunity to establish the hidden need. The client could end up disclosing what they are really trying to gain or avoid within the project/ task and positive outcome can take place for both parties. Having said that, you will also need to assess the situation, while some of the above tips have encouraged listening and letting the angry person vent, you also have the right to be assertive and say, “Please don’t talk to me like that.” if the situation is gets out of hand.
Some Tactics to be Used with Yourself
Handling a difficult client with some of the tactics, may be draining for you which would defeat the purpose of positively overcoming difficult clients, that’s what there are also a few things you should do:
- Debrief. After the situation is over, talk to someone about what happened, take 5 minutes to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and just allow yourself to process the situation.
- Discharge your own stress. You had to put your natural reactions on hold for a while. Now is the time to discharge some of that pent-up adrenaline. Go for a run. Take your dog for a walk. Don’t let the emotions stay stuck in your body.
- Give yourself credit for getting through an uncomfortable situation. It takes a lot of energy not to act like a jerk when someone else is behaving badly. Don’t skip this step!
Positive Outlook, Positive Outcome
Remember these tactics are simply guidelines to help you along the way. How you implement these tactics is up to you, and maybe they won’t give you a positive outcome every time, but its all about trying and keeping at it until you establish smart habits that work for you. If you do not have the time or cannot see yourself dealing with difficult clients that’s ok, perhaps consider getting a VA to deal with your Client Relationship Management and can implement strategies for you! I have seen how these tactics have worked for me, and to this day some of the best connections and relationships that I have established in my career have been as a result of a rocky start with some pretty difficult clients. The key to all of this however is to always have a positive outlook, and having said this I will end with a quote by Lailah Akita “Our reaction to any situation will determine the outcome”
How to Avoid Becoming a Victim to Burnout
In this fast paced world we live in and so much to cope with on a daily basis the risk of becoming a victim to burnout is increasing. This is especially the case for the dedicated, diligent person that strives for excellence in everything they do, particularly for someone that has multiple tasks that require a lot of focus in order to achieve this which in turn causes a lot of stress.
When a person has pushed themselves beyond their limits for too long and they end up suffering from long-term exhaustion. They begin to lose interest in their job and become much less productive. Eventually they are unable to continue working because their body and mind basically shutdown and needs a “timeout”.
An example of someone that could become a victim of burnout would have a job that would require them to multitask throughout the day, every day and very often in a job they don’t like. Bear in mind that a person that strives for personal excellence, will most likely put all their energy and focus into whatever job they do, even if they don’t enjoy it.
Research has proved that multitasking causes chaos in the brain which actually leads to brain damage. Dr Caroline Leaf goes more into details about this suggests a simple practice to do over a seven day period. For details about this, watch the video here.
The Warning Signs That You May be Heading for Burnout
Feeling physically and emotionally exhausted (insomnia, no energy, struggling to concentrate, confusion, anger, frustration)
- Being cynical and detached (withdrawal from people and activities, pessimism)
- Feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment (increased irritability, apathy, indifferent hopelessness)
Work Smarter, not Harder
Marie Forleo, who according to Oprah is the next generations thought leader, has a method she calls R.S.E.T. she uses to avoid burnout.
R – Review your day, preferably the night before and plan your breaks in advance, every 90 minutes.
E – Make it easy to remember to take the breaks by setting alarms on your phone. It’s easy to get so engrossed in what you are doing that before you know it, several hours have passed by without you noticing.
S – Step away from whatever you are doing.
E – Exersate. Hydrate yourself and get some exercise. Go for a quick walk, if you have a bicycle handy, hop on and go for a ride around the block. Do whatever you can to get your body moving and your mind onto something completely different.
T – Tune back in to whatever you were working on and continue until your next break. Rinse and repeat.
The Importance of Rest and a Balanced Diet
In 1893, Frederick Taylor did a scientific study of the work habits of workers in a steel mill and the results were that production increased considerably when the workers took regular breaks.
A diet high in good quality protein (amino acids) is really important for the brain to function at an optimal level. Just like a car needs fuel, oil and water, so does the body. Neither can run on empty.