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How I Work With My VA: Tips from Mary Ellen Slayter, CEO and Founder of Reputation Capital

This post is part of a series in which we’ll explore a different outsourcing topic and offer our advice on what we’ve found works best.


Here at YEC, we work with over a dozen virtual assistants to support our team. Because we believe so strongly in the power of outsourcing, we've worked with top VA service providers including Zirtual, UAssistMe, and Ruby Receptionists to provide members with generous discounts. To learn more about these benefits, visit the marketplace on your member dashboard. Or, email your member concierge directly for support. [ Note: This benefit is for YEC members only. Click here to find out if you qualify.]

When it comes to managing VAs, your fellow members can serve as great sources of advice on how they take advantage of this YEC benefit. This week, we spoke with Mary Ellen Slayter, CEO and Founder of Reputation Capital, who currently works with 2 Uassist.ME VAs whom she considers to be valuable members of her team. As her company expanded, Slayter realized her team’s time was best spent doing what they’re great at, rather than delegating part of their workload to administrative tasks that a VA could take over. I spoke with her to get her top tips on effectively working with a VA:

  1. Document everything.

What’s most critical to your success with a VA, according to Slayter? Proper documentation of how you do business. “Make sure you understand what you do, and the steps that go into it,” she says. Calling Reputation Capital a “process-driven agency,” Slayter and her team harness the power of project management tools and checklists when delegating tasks to VAs.

In order for a VA to properly complete an activity that is pertinent to her business, such as report gathering, social media posting or sales prospect research, Slayter emphasizes the importance of succinct documentation. Avenues of clear communication in tools like Basecamp (which Slayter and her team use) ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding how a task should be completed, and the team knows right away if a VA has a question via the “comments” section.

  1. Trust their expertise, and solicit their feedback.

While you’re busy running your business all day, you can’t forget that just as you are an expert in your field, so too is your VA in their arena of project assistance. After all, that’s the reason you brought them on board in the first place -- to manage your systems day in and day out. “Be open to that expertise,” says Slayter. “This is what these men and women do all day long. Focus on what you’re good at in your job -- it’s probably not Microsoft Office or Google docs!”

While you’ve put processes in place in your documentation, you should also be open to gathering your VA’s input on how you could better be using these tools to enable them to more effectively do their job. Slayter also advises on treating your VA like a partner, appreciating the fresh perspective they bring to the table and soliciting their ideas on how and where processes can be improved.

  1. Learn to let go.

As Slayter noted, one of the most challenging asks for any founder is to relinquish control -- even if it’s for something as minor as an administrative task. As noted above, your VAs have a much higher level of expertise in their area than you do, so it’s best to just trust them and get back to focusing on running your business.

Once you have your instructions laid out, and have discussed how to execute the tasks, all you can really do is let go of your micromanaging tendencies and work with your VA throughout the process as needed. Slater puts it simply: “Document, train then let it go. If you’re not in that mindset, you’ll give both you and your VA a lot of headaches.” Thanks to the help of her VAs, Slayter’s time is freed up to think strategically about her clients’ brands, while resting assured that her team is keeping daily progress moving full steam ahead.

Ready to take advantage of a virtual assistant for your business? Visit the marketplace on your member dashboard to learn more about our discounts with Zirtual, UAssistMe, and Ruby Receptionists. Or, email your member concierge directly for support. [Note: This benefit is for YEC members only. Click here to find out if you qualify.]