What you can do to get great work ethic

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.

Conclusion

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

This Female Entrepreneur Inspired me the most. This is why.

This Female Entrepreneur Inspired me the most. This is why.

This Female Entrepreneur Inspired me the most. This is why.

Where it all started

I remember watching this female entrepreneur back in the day when I had DSTV and was prepared to pay the exorbitant subscription fee for the drivel bestowed upon us.  This lady featured in a doccie entitled ‘The Secret Millionaire’ and from the moment the opening credits began, I just knew this was one tough, go getter woman.  I was most pleased to watch her in action on another BBC show ‘Dragons Den’ a few years later.

The female entrepreneur I am referring to is none other than the interminable Ms Hilary Devey.  So intrigued was I, I purchased her biography ‘Bold as Brass, My Story’.

The life of Hilary Devey

Ms Devey certainly didn’t start life with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth.  In fact, she didn’t even have a plastic one.  She was born into a regular English family and her folks earned their living working in and managing pubs in her home town of Bolton in the UK.  There were times when her folks were successful in what they were doing and at other times, not so much.  Her folks faced bankruptcy on several occasions and thus moved around the UK extensively in search of employment opportunities.    None of this stopped the young Hilary in her pursuit of success though.  These obstacles toughened her up and she vowed at the age of seven she would never sit on a cold floor again. Ever.

Ms Devey was a bright child at school and had a flair for the numbers game from an early age.  Having to pull her weight at the various pubs her folks managed and lived in, she quickly became adept at pulling pints and learnt how to haggle.  These traits would put her in good stead later in life.  Upon completing school aged sixteen, Hilary served for a short while in the Women’s Royal Air Force, in air traffic control and the supply accounts department.  Her accounting skills were honed, and the lessons learnt in the WRAF ensured she would never be blindsided in business.

How she become an inspiration

Fast forward to 1996 when Pall-Ex, a palletized freight network was launched.  Ms Devey chose a testosterone dominated industry to make her mark. And mark it she did!  Pall-Ex has annual revenues of £59.947 million.  The splendours of success had their foibles though and there were many sacrifices made.   According to Ms Devey’s biography, the hardest work she’s ever done is pull her son from the grips of heroin addiction.  Marriage has also not been her forté as she is twice divorced and suffered a stroke that almost killed her.

Ms Devey is tough as nails and one of a kind.  She is famous for her straight-talking but genuinely warm force of nature.  Ultimately though, she is a survivor and her story, told with complete honesty, is as inspirational as the woman herself.

Good on you Hils!

You Teach People How To Treat You

You Teach People How To Treat You

You Teach People How To Treat You

This is so true and it took me a while to realise this, many years in fact. It is important to set healthy boundaries.

Very wise words from Dr Phil : “I’m not saying that you’re responsible for another person’s behavior. This is not about blame. But I am saying that you have power over your reactions. So if there is a person in your life who isn’t treating you with the respect and consideration you deserve, you have a couple of decisions to make. Are you willing to accept accountability, and do you really want to make a change? If the answer is yes, then you should ask yourself: “What am I doing to elicit this person’s behavior or to allow it to continue?” Even if you think you aren’t doing a thing, your inaction is speaking for you.”

Learn to speak up

We should not silently resent and not speak up. I have certainly been guilty of this. If we want a different result then we should speak up and make it known if we want a different result. Yes initially it will be difficult to do this but practice makes perfect!

Speak your truth

When we are asked as to what is wrong, do not answer nothing when there is in fact plenty wrong! I have said this many times that there is nothing wrong when in actual fact I have felt most uncomfortable. We have to actually teach that person or persons how to treat us and believe me they will take their cue from there!

Personal boundaries are of importance

Teaching others to respect your personal boundaries is healthy. It does not mean controlling or punishing others but rather are guidelines as to what is acceptable in your life and what is not.

I have for many years thought that always making myself available is a way to win the love and respect of others but it certainly does not work this way.

It will of course take time to differentiate between a genuine request and some taking advantage, therefore we have to learn the difference between being firm and inflexible.

I have had to learn that I am entitled to my own thoughts, opinions and feelings.

It certainly does not come easy to set your boundaries in the workplace or on a personal level.  Knowing them and actually setting them are two different things but it can be done.

Setting the above in motion will certainly enhance our self-esteem and self-worth.

Acting assertively takes practice. Know your limits. Remember too that teaching people how to treat us is a process that involves teaching them.

Love and respect yourself first

Look at how others that act with self-confidence and demand respect are treated well. Follow their example. This will not happen overnight, I know, but others will start to treat you differently. Do not allow certain behaviours from others that make you feel uncomfortable.

I love this quote by Anna Taylor :

“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.”

To sum up, good advice from Morgan & Wiseheart:

  • Start with yourself
  • Talk about your “rules of engagement”
  • Communicate your needs clearly and compassionately
  • Model how you’d like to be treated
  • Reinforce behaviors you like
  • Pick a role model to emulate
  • Have realistic expectations

 

 

What is your “what if” plan?

What is your “what if” plan?

What is your “what if” plan?

Now, what if is a very common and also important question in our industry. We should always assure that we have a
contingency plan in place for the majority of “What if?” moments in our day to day lives. This question could be interpreted in many circumstances in your daily lives as a virtual assistant. Today I will be discussing a few of these what if questions.

Scenario #1

For my first example, I would go with one of our latest and greatest fears that we currently have in South Africa and that fear is named “Load Shedding”. Hopefully, according to Eskom, this will not affect us much but if or when it actually happens that you mid-sentence loose power, all your unsaved work will be gone and your internet router will be of meaning that your internet access will also be gone for the +- 2 hours that the load shedding is going on. For you to be prepared for this “what if” moment, you should in case that you are using a laptop ensure that the laptop is constantly charged up fully so that you do not lose any mission-critical information. The full battery should allow you to save the essential files and also maybe finish the project that you urgently need to finish. If you are using a desktop pc my suggestion will be to invest in a good quality UPS of at least 1000KVA to allow you to save your work and safely shut down the computer. Some models actually have space for you to plug in your power supply for your internet router so that you can still have a few more minutes of internet.

For those of us that do not have the luxury of owning a UPS but are working on a laptop witch, I strongly suggest the internet router going down can be bypassed at least for a short while. You can invest in a small internet modem/router that works off a battery and a sim card and can also be charged on using the USB port of your computer. It works by creating a small range wifi network that allows you to still access the internet.

Scenario #2

Another “what if” moment is when you have to work away from home due to any reason. It could be that your child/spouse is sick or that you go out for an afternoon lunch with an old friend or whatever the reason may be. For situations like this, I will suggest a few things. Firstly as before I would suggest that you rather do your work from a laptop or notebook computer. Also as suggested before invest in the wifi modem that runs of a battery that you can quickly and easily charge from your computer.

Also what I suggest is that you and your client keep in continuous contact with each other and explain to him if you have to leave your house for any reason you can inform him/her that you will be working from a different location but you will still have your computer as well as internet access so that you can continue doing the work from a different location.

Now, “what if” this is not possible? Then it would be in your as well as your clients best interests to say to your client I will not be available during this time but will be back, however as soon as I am back again I will carry on with the work required of you.

A MAJOR “What if” moment and also very important is What if I lose all my data? I know it is a horrible feeling and inconvenience not only to you but also your client if something is to happen with your data. In this case, it is my recommendation, out of a personal experience, that you have the following in place: firstly do a regular backup of your most important documents and information to an external drive. Preferably not a flash drive as they tend to get corrupted, go missing or most often the capacity is not big enough. There is also another option that I suggest you have in place in addition to the external drive for backups and that is to have a cloud service in place. There are several ones available. Some are free like Google cloud, Dropbox and also mega.com and some paid cloud services like box.com.

Final thoughts

Lastly my final “What If” moment is what if you do not have enough time to finish your work or do not understand what exactly it is that your client wants you to do, then feel free to ask your client. Rather ask and make sure before you start than starting with something you do not understand and having to do double work. Remember, your client is also a person just like you and would be able to assist you with any queries that you may have regarding the assignments given to you.

The Importance Of Virtual Communication

The Importance Of Virtual Communication

The Importance Of Virtual Communication

Effective communication is one of the most important life skills that we can learn, yet one we don’t usually put a lot of effort into.

Learning how to improve communication skills is an ongoing process that should grow and develop continuously instead of remaining static throughout our lives.

As the world becomes more dependent on the internet and other global platforms communication is vital. For virtual teams, communication is even more critical and even more difficult. The very first, and most important thing to understand is that there is a big difference between virtual communication and office interactions. In the absence of facial expressions, body language and voice signals, your underlying meaning is not always clear.

As with most tasks in life, the essential part of any client/Virtual Assistant relationship is communication. You cannot get tasks completed, and goals achieved, without constant communication.

Communication is key to any relationship, but communication with your VA is vital to ensuring success. In order to develop a productive partnership with your Virtual Assistant, communication will be the key element for success. Opening up the lines of communication should work from both sides.

What Is Virtual Communication?

We define virtual communication as a mode of communication that includes the use of technology – audio and video to communicate with people who are not physically present in front of us.

Outcome

Effective virtual communication provides the ability to communicate more efficiently and quickly. A successful and effective outcome of virtual communication includes a message that is clearly sent via technology and accurately received by another person.

Purpose

The intention of effective virtual communication is to accurately send a message using technology that is received by the recipient in an understandable way. Virtual communication is only considered effective when the message is both sent and received with clarity.

Tools

With so many options of virtual communication tools available, it definitely makes our lives easier. Nowadays, the ability of communicating virtually and instantly or sharing our information in seconds is very crucial. Effective virtual communication comes in different forms, the internet is the largest component in virtual communication. Here are some example of platforms to communicate or share content.

  • Skype
  • Whatsapp
  • Slack
  • Zoom
  • Teamviewer
  • me
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive

Managing time – especially across multiple time zones

When you are communicating across time zones, it’s important to put systems in place that suit both sides. Virtual Assistants generally work at the convenience of their clients, making the time factor less important.

Conclusion

Learning verbal communication skills can’t help but will improve our written and digital communications because we develop a better understanding of what people are trying to convey even in short messages.

It is no doubt that communication plays a vital role in human life. It not only helps to facilitate the process of sharing information and knowledge, but also helps people to develop relationships with others. Therefore, the importance of communication cannot be underestimated.

“THE WAY WE COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS AND WITH OURSELVES ULTIMATELY DETERMINES THE QUALITY OF OUR LIVES” ~ ANTHONY ROBBINS