Is there anything more frustrating than a lack of clarity to complete a job?
In my “working for the man” job days, I often came across this, especially when I was learning my job. I was given a set of instructions to follow (and made notes for myself so I could do it on my own for next time), and after doing this task for a few weeks on a regular basis, suddenly, I was called out on missing an important aspect of the task. What was being brought to my attention made sense, but when I referred to my notes, that aspect was, indeed, missing. There was a lack of clarity in the instructions and I was reprimanded for it.
Then the silent but definitely present, “You’ve been doing this for weeks, why are mistakes happening?”
How unfair. If only there was clarity involved in the initial delegation of tasks.
In today’s busy world, when delegating work to an assistant or a VA, it’s easy to assume that you’ve given all the instructions. It’s totally understandable. And when the finished project comes back, it’s easy to assume the person just didn’t feel like doing it, or simply wasn’t paying attention. In some cases, this might be true.
Mistakes happen. I’m only human. But I don’t like to fail others if I can feasibly avoid doing so.
When this happens once or twice, it can be easy enough to forgive and forget, but when it continues for a much longer period, it starts to feel like you’re being set up to fail, or simply can’t seem to do anything right. And that takes a toll on the working relationship and the assistant’s (or VA’s) self-confidence.
When you’ve been doing the job for a long time, only to be called out on something you should have been doing all along, it sucks. Missed the memo again, eh, Denise?
As a Type A person, I believe in doing the job right the first time, delivering quality results and not only completing the task but ACING the task. I want the client to respond with, “WOW!” While I’m not sure about other assistants/VAs (well, actually, I’m quite sure), but I don’t think any assistant/VA can deliver quality results with half the instructions. It all begins with complete clarity.
Without clarity, the assistant/VA begins to stop caring. If a lack of clarity goes on for too long, they’ll start to look for another job or another client.
So how can this be avoided?
It’s truly simple.
It will take a small investment of time in order to ensure clarity.
This investment of time will ensure that you aren’t wasting your money on corrections (or worse, replacing your assistant/VA) later on down the road.
Record a video or make notes for your assistant/VA as you’re doing the job yourself.
- Go through all the motions yourself and record all the instructions, however you want to do that.
- Don’t miss any steps, don’t skip anything or assume your assistant/VA knows what you’re talking about.
- Glossing over anything that you think is common sense won’t achieve the results you’re after.
- Once you’ve recorded the instructions… listen/watch/reread them. Make adjustments if you’ve left anything out.
- Go through the instructions again. Make further adjustments if necessary.
When you feel confident with your instructions, share them with your assistant/VA, and invite feedback and/or questions. Complacency sets in when we’ve been doing something for what seems like forever, so a second set of eyes can be helpful.
Have your assistant/VA do the task once or twice and check the quality. If you have a signature aspect of the task, make sure your assistant/VA knows what it is. It needs to feel like you did it, so if there’s anything that you would have done differently, they need to know what it is and why.
What if you want to change things later on down the road? Explain that to your assistant/VA. Then talk about how you’d like to change things, or even better, re-record instructions to include the changes you want to make. Leave no room for misunderstanding.
Including clarity in your instructions makes for a happier, more successful working relationship. And success is something we all want.
Questions or comments? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s talk!