Communication: the Key to Effective Leadership is the title of Judy and Joe Pauley’s excellent book on CEO management. In their book, the two renowned communications executives highlight six personality types: the Reactor, the Workaholic, the Persister, the Dreamer, the Rebel and the Promoter. No executive fits snugly into a sole category, they say, but no matter where they sit, communicating their vision clearly and concisely is paramount to success. It is no different with a remote assistant.
Establishing effective channels of communication with your virtual assistant is key to performance. The channels should be honed and streamlined; underpinned by efficiency and consistency.
As the Pauleys note, each executive works differently, so the first step in building this channel is establishing your preferences. Even with the in-house model, most communications between an executive and their assistant are virtual. Some executives prefer email, others the telephone. Some will want a text or memo on the go, others like to check-in via Skype. Setting out your working style early on is crucial.
At the start of your relationship, we recommend speaking to your Fyxer on a daily basis in order to go through tasks for that day. Not only does this help the two of you become more familiar, but it allows the Fyxer to easily flag time-saving issues from the outset.
Clarity is the rock on which the house of efficient communications was built. As a result, each new task or project handed over should be talked through together, with the executive giving specific instructions, including deadlines and final output. When completed, the executive should give feedback on the task so that their assistant can develop accordingly.
Being specific is vital, but being consistent is equally valuable. Your Fyxer will absorb your working preferences, so think about how often you want to communicate with them. For example, we recommend Daily Wrap Ups between a Fyxer and their executive, but you may want to schedule a weekly accounts call too. You may want to set aside a particular time each day to update the two-way task management system. You may want your Fxyer to send through non-urgent, but important emails from your inbox at a specific hour.
Knowing your preferences and sticking to them is key to effective communication and so executives should look to create a shared system. This includes aligning on channel – such as email, text, phone or Skype – to coordinating on medium – for example, what type of documents to use; the fonts and format.
This shared system should also cater for two-way traffic; not just a one-way route. The executive should establish red lines on items of particular significance, while also liaising over timings, both at work and at home. With the shared system discussed and negotiated, the foundations for seamless communication are laid.
In this day and age, communications are instant. We can translate our thoughts across the globe with the click of a button or the dial of a phone. Embracing this technology, setting out clear and consistent parameters and creating a shared system is the very basis for effective communication with your assistant. In turn, the very basis for a successful working relationship.