I’ve got a very useful talent – I know how to read people. It’s something I’ve discovered over the years whilst working with people in different industries and different places in the corporate hierarchy.
How does this tie in with what I promised you in my headline? Well it’s the only thing you need to do to learn to love your difficult client.
There’s a fine line between sucking up to a client and knowing what they want, when they want it and how they want it. Here are some tips to help you read your client and make the experience of working with you the best they’ve ever had:
- Learn your client’s way of working. If your client rates communication at the top of their list when it comes to any project or work related issue, be a communicator. Find out the frequency they require you to check in with them and do it. Even if you don’t like it very much, you’ll get over it soon enough and it’ll become part of your daily routine. It can even be sending emails everyday. A lot of potential clients in our world are very skeptical about sending their confidential info to someone they’ve never met in person before. By showing them you can accommodate them in the way they need you to is very reassuring and will give them peace of mind.
- “What would your client do?” is something you should always think about when faced in a situation where you’re unsure if you’re doing the right thing. If you’ve worked with someone long enough you could already have an idea of what your client would do in certain situations and act accordingly. This will show them that you are trustworthy enough to steer the ship when they’re not around.
- Give 200% of yourself to win them over. I know, it sound exhausting to be the best you can be in everything all the time but giving that extra little bit of oomph will set your client at ease and he or she will become your best friend. By doing things the way they want it done (a 10 page report instead of just a one page summary that would’ve done the trick) you earn you’re client’s trust and respect. Hopefully it’s not necessary and it’s given to you from the start, but I know from experience that sometimes you just have to shut up and show up.
In all honesty, some people are just not a right fit. If you find that this client is not worth the stress and the bending backward all the time, it might be better to let them go. There are very tactful ways to tell a client that you are not a good fit for them and that you think they will be better of with another professional to handle their needs. I hope my tips will help you persevere and improve your relationship with you client. There will still be days where you want to run and hide, just remember every cloud has a silver lining and it’s up to you to find it!
As a Virtual Assistant (VA), we receive regular training and guidance on how to work remotely and how to work with clients that we don’t see day to day, if ever. There is quite a difference in how we work as opposed to a member of staff located in your office.
The most important aspect of working virtually is communication. Good and regular communication with your employer is key to ensure a good working relationship and to manage expectations.
Whilst it is vitally important that VAs fully understand how to work in the virtual world, it is also important that their clients know how best to work with their VA. The world of Virtual Assistants is relatively new. Many new clients who take on a VA for the very first time are not experienced in this new working relationship.
Here are some tips for clients wanting to get the most out of their Virtual Assistant.
- Have an introductory call with your VA via phone or even better Skype so that you can get to know each other ‘in person’ before you start working together. Going forward it is likely that you will communicate mainly electronically via email, WhatsApp etc. but talking initially is an ice breaker and helps both parties feel at ease with each other.
- Discuss and decide early on what will be your main method of communication. Email is the most common means of business communication but if you prefer to use other communication tools such as Slack or WhatsApp then discuss this with your VA so that they can download any new apps or tools that they need.
- Identify all online tools and packages that you will need your Virtual Assistant to use so that they can download anything they don’t already have and establish if any training is needed. Remember that VA’s are flexible, experienced in using a range of tools and can train themselves online if necessary. Just ensure you set out your expectations early to allow time for them to familiarise themselves with tools ahead of being immersed in the work.
- Send your VA an outline of your expectations and a list of relevant work and responsibilities they are going to be working on.
- Establish your VA’s daily availability and your expectations regarding availability. If you are paying for a certain number of hours of work a day, your assistant will only be able to work for this set amount of time. If you have a large project coming up and are going to need extra support, inform your VA as soon as possible and discuss their availability and the additional cost of them carrying out extra hours of work for you.
- If your VA is based in another country, then they are likely to have different public holidays. Ask them to brief you on when they will be unavailable to work due to public holidays so that you can both plan accordingly. And also brief them when your public holidays are and what you expect to happen on those days.
- It is a good idea to have weekly meetings with your VA so you can both stay up to date about work progress, upcoming requirements and to discuss any issues that may arise. Including your VA in team meetings via a Skype/conference call helps them feel included and part of the team which is likely to help motivation.
- Ask you VA for a weekly email update with a summary of the week’s work and progress with any projects they are working on.
- Communicate regularly. Check in with your VA daily if possible even if it is a cursory email or message. Keep your assistant informed of your whereabouts (holidays etc).
Remember each client/VA working relationship is different and all have different requirements. The underlying theme is that good communication is key to get the most out of your Virtual Assistant.
How a Virtual Assistant can help you prevent burnout in your business
We’ve heard countless times about business owners reaching burnout. Why do you think it happens so often? It’s because they’re trying to do everything themselves. You know the saying about if you want it done… Yeah that one. That’s why.
Sadly in some cases it takes a burnout for them to realize that they need help.
No successful entrepreneur does it by on their own anymore. Don’t try to break the norm, you’ll be sorry…
I know I really struggle to outsource anything. It feels as if it’ll take me less time to do it myself than to explain to someone else, right? Well look at it this way, if you’ve spent the time to explain it once, you won’t ever have to again and that task can be delegated with ease in future. See it as a time investment towards your mental (and maybe physical) health.
So now I’ve got you thinking, heck that sounds like me too. Well buddy you might be heading for a burnout as we speak. I’m sure you’re next question is, how do I prevent burnout? The answer is easy, outsource! Good news is that your first stop can be your only one. Outsourcing your outsourcing to your Virtual Assistant is a great idea! Here’s how a VA can help you:
- Need to design a presentation for that new client? That’ll take hours! Nope, not if you have a VA that can do it for you or outsource it to a graphic design expert. That time can be utilized in carefully selecting leads for your business.
- Ughh, now there’s an entire list of leads you need to call, you hate making calls. Your VA can do it for you while you catch up on some much-needed networking with the MD of that company whose business you’ve been after for months.
- It’s your grandma’s birthday and, yikes! You forgot to send flowers. You’re already on the golf course and done for the day… Your Virtual Assistant can organize it for you, just send a quick voice note and you’ll be the new favorite grandchild in no time.
- If I haven’t convinced you yet… Cost-wise hiring a VA just makes sense. You don’t have to provide any infrastructure for her/him to work with, no leave days necessary, you only pay for the time spent on your tasks, no annual bonuses necessary, no year-end functions that cost you money and a VA can do pretty much anything you require. We are experts at acquiring or outsourcing the skills you need in your business.
I think you catch my drift. Don’t you just wish there was a little helper to sort out the nitty-gritty while you hustle to get new clients?
Well, there is! We’re called Virtual Assistants and we’re just a phone call, email or WhatsApp away.
So if you want to join the trend and prevent burnout from trying to ‘do it all’, get yourself a VA today!
This is why you should regularly move the goal posts
Are you moving the goal posts?
Mention the word Goalpost and immediately a sport comes to mind. A total play on words, because even though it is termed sport or a game, it is still taken seriously. No matter what game you think of, there is a goalpost of sorts, some defining object that remains static and signifies the end objective within boundaries. And so it is in business. When you have your boundaries or goalposts in place, they need to remain static in order to realise the goals and objectives you set out to achieve.
Some may say that “systems” are the most important and yes, while they are the backbone of getting, and keeping the flow of work going smoothly, if your boundaries are not constant and clearly defined, even the best system can be pushed out of whack. Boundaries give as much structure as systems.
It cannot be stressed enough how important clear communication is within the working environment. Being on the same page, following the same path and achieving the same target are vital to the success of any business, especially when working in a virtual team and relying on cyber communication. Being absolutely clear about how you work leaves no room for grey areas and instances where the overstepping of your boundaries can lead to feelings of frustration and irritation. Matters such as hours of work, channels and times of communication, prioritisation of tasks and even what would constitute an emergency should be defined, and more importantly, adhered to at all times.
Crossing the line
Whilst you may be adhering to your practices, there may come a time when your boundaries become tested and possibly even crossed. Don’t let the situation slide. Address it in the moment or as early as possible. Have a plan on how to handle it and carry it out before it loses its power and results in those feelings of frustration or even exploitation at times. Making exceptions can take you onto the downward slope.
Consistency is key
Now I’m not saying be inflexible when the need arises, but consistency is an indication of your seriousness and professional approach to your work. After all, if you don’t respect your own boundaries, you cannot expect others to do so either. Should it happen that additional hours or some urgent work become necessary, assess the situation objectively and discuss how best to take care of it, leaving everyone fully in the picture. Being flexible but consistent is the key to a great working relationship.
So, are your goalposts firmly in place, or do you have some cementing to do……
Mom guilt, we’ve all been there!
Where is “there” you ask. “There” is the in between sweet spot where you have a flourishing career on the one side, you are the boss, the main tool in the shed, and the go to woman for everything, and then the other side where you are supermom, mom in a million, mom there for every step, every meal, every bath, every laugh, every new obstacle faced and overcome. It’s the sweet spot. The one I am still searching for.
I still look back and have a good laugh, before my little girl was born my maternity leave was two weeks. Yes, two weeks. I had no idea why everyone looked at me like I was crazy. I was going to be the woman who had her baby, had two weeks at home but then would be back on my feet, working from home or the office, baby in routine, sleeping well and this new bundle of joy would be slotting into my well planned out mommy and work sweet spot. Well two weeks, became one month, and one month turned into three months and three months turned into five months. And then I was ready to roll out on my own. Dress for success, leave my baby at home with the nanny and go out and conquer the world. And then there was a feeling, a feeling I had never felt before, what could it be? Enter mom guilt.
Up to this point, I had focused on spending time with the nanny so that I felt comfortable to leave my little one at home, prepped every evening for the next day to ensure nothing was forgotten and every meal planned. My super-nanny was amazing, and my baby girl was so happy, she wouldn’t even notice if I left home for a while. But still I would sit at work, or during the day find myself feeling guilty for number one enjoying the time to myself, for being able to sit and get my work done and not just be a mom for the day. And secondly for not being at home, worrying that she was going to do something, and I wasn’t there to see it, for not being the one feeding and changing and putting her to sleep. I started to question if I was being a good mom. If I should look at rather being a stay at home mom and rather not have to deal with my own guilt.
While dealing with my mom guilt and on my way to resignation station, I started trying to find a balance, finding the sweet spot as I put it. When does work come first and when does my child and family come first? And the simple truth is that my family will always come first but I also come first, me, myself, mom. I enjoy my job and working with people and enjoy adult conversation. I also have to have a place. And that place is during the day while doing my job or running errands for my family and in the mornings and afternoons with my little girl.
Being a mom is not easy, it is probably the hardest task I have ever encountered and the toughest full-time job, I cannot resign from. When things get tough, I have to dig in my heals and carry on. If I have to give anyone advise on how to deal with mom guilt it would be:
Number 1: don’t feel bad about having mom guilt
It is going to happen, and it does not make you any worse of a person or mom. Its normal to feel sad that you are not with your little one.
Number 2: enjoy your time away
I have found that being away for a couple of hours, allows me to cherish the time that I am at home more, and I am happier for it. I allow myself to give 100% at work and then 100% at home.
Number 3: give yourself enough time at home
Two weeks is not enough time, believe me, you need a good solid five months at home to get to know your little one, be with your nanny and your little one together and build up a relationship between the three of you, and by the five months mark you will be ready to step back into the world as you, not as a mom, but as you.
Number 4: know that your little one will always be number 1
No matter where you spend the day, you are going home to your little one and your family at the end of it all. That is where your heart will always belong.
Number 5: someone else’s opinion doesn’t matter
I am of the opinion that others make us feel more guilty than we need to. Try not to listen to what others think and what they have done. You know yourself and you know your baby. If you are not comfortable with something, don’t do it. If it works for you and your baby, then it’s the right thing to do.
Number 6: take time
Time is all the medicine you will need. Take each day as it comes, and you will find your rhythm.
So I missed resignation station and went straight onto finding my sweet spot. Some days are better than others but each and every day I get up and try my best. I still evaluate my days and weeks and if something doesn’t work or doesn’t feel right, I don’t force it, I merely try it a different way until it fits.
You do you, Mommy, everything else will slot in as it needs to, and soon you will be finding your own “sweet spot.”