When it comes to business, knowing how to best communicate with people will make or a break a relationship. This is especially true with working with Filipinos. I’ve learned a few ways to ensure you and your VA stay on the same page and develop a trusting, successful partnership.
Filipinos need communication
Frequent, regular contact is important for your Filipino VA, and it’s not just because they’re working remotely on the other side of the world. By nature, Filipinos love to please and get your approval. By communicating with them often, you can give them that reassurance. It helps them feel good about what they’re doing. Through your training, teaching and constructive feedback, you let your VA know how they can improve and what they’re doing well. Your VA will appreciate this and thrive off of it.
Your worker needs to hear from you constantly, even if it’s a simple “thank you.” This will validate their self-esteem. It will help them feel valued and important. It will fuel their motivation.
If you fail to communicate with your VA, their work will slow down and their performance will suffer. Why? Because if you don’t bother to talk to your VA or send emails, it’ll send the message that you simply don’t care about what they’re doing. Lack of communication tells your VA that they’re not important. Their desire to fulfill assignments will diminish, and eventually, you’ll lose them.
Don’t be that boss that forgets about employees. Make communication a top priority. Let me outline some of the ways you can do this.
We’ve covered this in other sections, but it can’t be left out here. That’s because the daily email is the very best way to maintain good communication with your VA.
Make the daily email a requirement for your VA. It’s a non-negotiable task they should perform every single work day. Not only does it make your VA accountable and keep you informed on what they’re up to, but it provides that contact your VA needs and wants. Anything can be expressed in the daily email. It’s the ideal chance for your VA to ask questions and to share frustrations, confusion and achievements. You can then respond to the email and address anything your VA brought up in the email. If your VA sends the daily email as they’re supposed to, your communication can’t help but be solid.
Feel free to send additional emails to your VA as needed, and invite them to do the same. Email is probably the fastest and easiest way to communicate back and forth. Promptly respond to emails your VA sends. Don’t let them sit in your inbox and ignore them. This will destroy trust. You expect your VA to answer your emails, so do the same for them.
Use a project management system
You might be using a project management system anyway to help keep track of your VA’s assignments, deadlines, milestones and other project essentials. A project management system can also be a great communication tool.
There are a number of project management systems out there, but I like Basecamp. It’s simple and thorough, and it works well with my Filipino VAs. It’s easy to send messages through Basecamp and give your VA directions and feedback. In turn, they can respond with questions and answers.
Basecamp helps you track how a project is coming along so there’s no doubt in your VA’s mind where things stand and what is expected of them.
Chat by using Skype
A lot of Filipinos don’t prefer video Skype. Because of their shyness, they don’t often feel comfortable with video chats. However, it can be a wonderful way for the two of you to become familiar with one another.
A Skype video call can be particularly helpful for a new VA because it gives them a chance to see your face and develop a good level of comfort and trust from the very beginning. It helps your VA realize you’re not some faceless figure from far away. It also give you a better connection to the person you’ll be working with (hopefully for years to come).
If it’s just text chatting, Filipinos love skype. Google talk chat is also great.
Pick up the phone
If you prefer, there’s nothing wrong with calling your VA. This might be especially helpful if you have an urgent, time-sensitive matter to communicate.
There are a few things to keep in mind when calling the Philippines. The first is that your Filipino VA is many hours ahead of you. In fact, if you’re in Los Angeles, for example, and your worker is in Manila, there’s a 15-hour time difference. That’s significant. Be aware of that when calling so that you’re not trying to reach them in the middle of their night.
Second, calling the Philippines is expensive. It’s best to call using Skype; otherwise, it’s 14 cents a minute. These costs can add up considerably for your VA. Be considerate and don’t burden them with unnecessary costs.
Ask them if it costs them money to receive a phone call. Different plans in the Philippines allow different phone calls for free. They might be able to answer your phone call on their cell phone without it costing them anything.
Even if you and your VA don’t plan on chatting much on the phone, it’s good to have their number in case you need to reach them in an emergency.
Nothing beats Jing
If you’re not familiar with Jing, get to know this screen capture and screen recording program. It’ll be your best friend in working with your VA. I use it all of the time, and I absolutely love it. It makes giving feedback and instruction so easy. Oh, and it’s free!
I use Jing to record audio and video and to send screenshots. It’s a breeze to point out things I need my VA to add, remove, modify or change in their assignments. It’s often so much easier using Jing than it is to try to spell things out or explain what I’m thinking via email. It’s also instant, so it works for your most important needs.
Don’t spare the questions
When it comes to communicating with your Filipino VA, the more you say and ask the better. Filipinos are smart, capable and dependable, but they also appreciate and benefit from plenty of detail and clarity. Plus, you can know how to better direct and help them as you ask the right kinds of questions. Here are a few I like to ask:
1. Does this make sense? Is it clear to your VA what the task is and what it entails? Do they know what you expect of them?
2. Do you know how to do this? Your VA might know what it is you want them to do, but do they know how to accomplish it? Asking them this simple question helps you know what training and teaching they need or what you need to clarify. This is often a problem with design work. Don’t assume they can make something look good.
3. Do you enjoy your job? This is straightforward question, but it’s one you should often ask, especially if you see productivity or quality slipping. Your VA’s answer may determine what type of work you give them and what adjustments you need to make. It also gives your VA a chance to tell you what more you can do for them.
4. What do you think about this strategy? This is a high-level question you might consider asking more experienced VAs. Your VA will feel more part of the decision-making process when you ask questions like this. Be prepared to listen to their answers and to consider implementing their suggestions. You are the expert of your business, but you may be surprised with the thoughtful insights your VA can provide.
Of course, there are many more questions you can and should ask your VA. Ask questions in your daily communications and whenever clarification is needed.
Don’t forget the feedback
Every time I ask my VA’s what I do well and what I do poorly, they always say, “YOU GIVE GREAT FEEDBACK!” They love that I use Jing and send them video feedback and video instructions. Over the years I’ve realized how important feedback is to the Filipino culture.
Don’t be afraid to give negative feedback, but always start with the positive. Even if your VA did something poorly, find some way to compliment them before pointing out what they did wrong. When they’ve done a good job, let them know about it. Go heavy on the compliments. Filipinos need praise. They need to feel like they’re doing things well. As you tell them this, they’ll do more things well. It’ll pay dividends for you and for your VA. Emphasizing positive feedback has at least three benefits:
• It builds trust
• It builds a loyal, long-term, hard-working employee
• It builds your relationship
Along with this, when something goes wrong, take the blame first, even if you know it’s not your fault. Instead of berating your VA, say something like, “I know I probably didn’t explain this very well” or “We have a problem, and I know I probably messed up.” This will create trust and will motivate your VA to work hard to find a solution.
Conclusion: Effective communication goes a long way
You haven’t hired a perfect person, nor have you hired a robot or a mind reader. You can’t expect your VA to be successful without communicating well with them constantly. Time differences and cultural differences will make this challenging, but by using these tools and tips we’ve discussed, you’ll have a much easier time get your messages across to your Filipino worker.
About John Jonas
John helps business owners learn to outsourcing to the Philippines and replace themselves with virtual assistants.
He founded and owns OnlineJobs.ph.
He currently employs 14 amazing Filipino workers full-time and loves every one of them. He lives in Utah, has a wonderful wife, 4 amazing kids, and golfs 4-5 times/week.
If you liked this you’ll probably also like reading
– How To Overcome The 9 Biggest Challenges With Filipino VA’s
– Four Pillars of Managing Filipino Virtual Assistants