Having a Virtual Executive/Personal Assistant in our, modern world of complexities is inevitable.
Exceptional Communication Skills when you are a Virtual Assistant, and as more people are taking the “leap” and exploring the concept of Virtual Assistance, they are quickly learning that putting the tools and strategies in place to establish good communication is the key to successfully working with a Virtual Assistant.
Having great oral and written communication skills is a must-have and is important when working as a virtual assistant. Because there is no physical form of contact, we and our clients must rely on emails, phone calls, messaging platforms, and video calls to communicate. Being able to write and speak clearly helps provide a positive experience to all who communicate with the virtual assistant, which results in positive feedback for the brand.
And it is no surprise that any successful business, including a Virtual Assistant business relies upon an open and clearly defined communication strategy as much as it does upon discipline, organisation, determination, and focus. Especially, if you are working with a virtual assistant, daily communication plays a key and important role, because the quality of results that you will get depends on how well you have outlined the tasks.
The article below by Grammarly (the full original article is in the link provided below) features and discusses the four main types of business communications, and the pros and cons for each.
The 4 Types of Business Communication and How They Can Help Teams Succeed - by Grammarly
Internal business communication is at the heart of a company’s success. It affects everything from employee happiness and customer relationships to brand identity, and net earnings.
But despite its significance, 57% of US companies surveyed do not have dedicated internal communications specialists, and 60% of business professionals say they do not measure their internal communication outcomes.
Given these numbers, it’s no surprise that 65% of workers were reported to be “disengaged” in the workplace, according to a Gallup poll.
A report from the Economist Intelligence Unit points to why: This can be largely attributed to employees citing added stress (52%), delay or failure to complete a project (44%), and low morale (31%) as a result of poor communication.
Understanding the 4 main types of business communication
Generally speaking, the four leading types of business communication include upward, downward, lateral, and external. There is no one “right” way to communicate within an organization. However, carefully considering the pros and cons of each type will help you determine which strategies are best for your team/organization, and also if employing multiple types of communication would be best.
What it is: Upward business communication comes from a direct report to a manager, and from a manager to a top-level executive or owner. Upward communication allows those in charge to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening on the ground floor.
How it works in action:
Example 1) A data specialist prepares a marketing report containing website analytics to feed decision-making at the top level.
Example 2) Employee surveys provide the basis for executives to make changes to daily operations to improve productivity and satisfaction.
Information received from team members helps management remain responsive to the needs of their employees. In contributing in this way, employees who feel valued will be more inclined to provide their best efforts at their jobs.
Management can identify issues early before they escalate.
Easy access to management allows employees to share their creativity and innovate, which could motivate company progress to be leaps and bounds faster than if business teams were completely siloed.
Businesses with upward communication are typically known for fostering a friendly, harmonious atmosphere.
The accuracy of employee-supplied information can be limited or skewed depending on their comfort level with communicating with their supervisors.
Subordinates may be unwilling to share information with management, particularly if they feel like no action will be taken or there will be consequences.
Upward communication can only be successful if there is a clear, accessible, and swift chain of command all the way to the top.
Tips for maximum effectiveness: Managers play the leading role in driving successful upward communication, so they will need to do the following:
Keep an open-door policy.
Engage employees in regular conversation.
Listen to employee concerns while displaying empathy.
Use multiple communication channels to ensure easy accessibility to all workers.
Create an available, inclusive environment.
Provide anonymous suggestion boxes, surveys, Q&A sessions, internal chat forums, or email chains to capture as much honest feedback as possible.
What it is: Downward business communication flows from management to direct reports. Messages flow through a predetermined hierarchy, from the top down.
How it works in action:
Leadership informs employees of a new operational procedure, safety requirement, or individual expectation through a company memo.
A manager communicates project information to the team.
The CEO holds a meeting to cover the previous year’s performance numbers and discuss next year’s goals.
Necessary information (instructions, explanations of complex issues, and operational details) can be quickly disseminated in a downward flow.
There’s an easier delegation of key responsibilities.
Managers are empowered to take on appropriate authority.
Company-specific standards, rules, and disciplinary consequences can be easily reinforced to uphold compliance.
It can be a slow process, especially when information must flow through multiple levels of hierarchy.
Like the game of “telephone,” the information can also become distorted or lose detail on its way through the chain of command.
Heavy reliance on a downward communication style can make employees feel unimportant, frustrated, or unenthusiastic about their work.
Tips for maximum effectiveness:
Keep leadership visible, approachable, and trustworthy.
Provide a schedule of communication to ensure that employees will value and prioritize your messages, rather than feel overwhelmed or irritated.
Management should utilize approachable body language, maintain a friendly disposition, ask employees how they’re doing, and keep their office doors open.
Management should invite a healthy blend of upward and downward communication that can serve the workplace well.
Management should keep detailed notes about employees, allowing them to add a personal touch to their communications when addressing individual employees.
What it is: Lateral communication moves across departments and employees or managers of equal status within the organization.
How it works in action:
A team communicates back-and-forth via emails.
Coworkers participate in a team chat to resolve an issue.
Managers coalesce for a brainstorming session.
A member of the marketing team discusses modifying an ad campaign’s design with a web designer on the technology team.
It is often necessary for information sharing, problem solving, and task coordination.
It is especially vital for large-scale enterprises that rely upon interdepartmental coordination.
It tends to synthesize organically, without the need for upper-level approval, serving as a rapid and morale-boosting mode of communication.
Misunderstanding and conflict can often be nipped in the bud while simultaneously strengthening teamwork.
Employees often feel supported both emotionally and socially.
Employees may communicate in a more casual, unprofessional tone, causing potential squabbles.
Can create an “us vs. them” culture if no other interdepartmental/hierarchical communication channels are properly established.
Teams may grow territorial about the tasks they’re working on and resent interjections from other departments, thereby undermining collaborative efforts.
Tips for maximum effectiveness:
Communicating through video chat, one-on-one conversations, or phone calls is most effective at avoiding or clearing up misunderstandings.
A written follow-up like an email or memo also reinforces messages/meetings and helps alleviate confusion.
Management must take care not to incentivize competitiveness between departments, communicating the significance of each group within the overall organization.
Using modern project management tools to invite interdepartmental communications can go a long way in reducing barriers and bottlenecks.
What it is: External communication moves information from the inside of the organization to outside parties, such as prospects, customers, investors, vendors, partners, sponsors, lawmakers, regulatory bodies, the media, consultants, or the general public.
How it works in action:
A press release is deployed to inform the media about a new product coming out.
A sales proposal is presented to generate interest from investors.
A website informs prospects why they may want a company’s products or services.
When performed successfully, external communication has a positive impact on the company’s public persona and reputation, making it more desirable to stakeholders and customers.
External communication is also directly tied to customer communications and the ability to create and maintain those relationships, so the quality of this kind of communication is of the utmost importance.
External communications are how outside businesses, customers, partners, investors, and the rest of your audience perceive your business and get to know it. Ensuring that every piece of external communication is carefully curated takes time, but when done right it is a significant attribution to company growth.
When poorly executed, external communications can present customers with conflicting messages that tarnish the company’s reputation.
One wrong piece of data, a missed target audience, or careless quote can sink an entire marketing campaign and have a lasting negative impact on a company’s ability to succeed, so each piece of externally-facing communication needs to be carefully curated and analyzed.
Without good internal communication, employees will likely struggle with creating good external communication.
Tips for maximum effectiveness:
Be straightforward and to the point; readers want value. In other words, remember that they want to know: “What is this about?” and “What’s in it for me?”
Know your audience. Extensive research is key to external messaging, as you’ll want the right language, tone, imagery, and channel.
Complement internal communication styles, but never replace them.
Connect employees and customers, which can lead to a vital information exchange that encourages customers to engage with your brand more. It also allows employees to gain a deeper understanding of the target audience.
Since each type of business communication accomplishes a unique set of goals, most businesses utilize multiple communication strategies within their organization. Your business may already be practicing these forms of business communication without your realizing it!
Now that you know the proper terminology and use cases for business communication, you’re better able to create a sustainable communication strategy and train employees on best practices.
Company-wide training may sound like a daunting task, but there are tools you can use to streamline the learning and implementation processes.
With all that said, having a Virtual Executive Assistant/Personal Assistant, someone to manage or handle your business administration, in this modern world of complexities is inevitable, so if you are still thinking about minimising recruitment and operational costs, as well as, maximising your time, investment and money, or if you have already decided to outsource a qualified professional, who can remotely and virtually manage various activities for your business, remember some tips on how to assure successful and efficient communication with your VA.
1. Good Communication Solves Everything - There are a few technical constraints to working with remote partners today. The real challenges relate to the relationships between virtual assistants and their clients. Good communication also requires active listening, the highest and most effective level of listening, and it is a special communication skill.
2. A Great Start contributes to half of the success - If you are planning to build a long-term professional relationship with your virtual human resources and virtual workforce, getting to know each other could be the first and the most important thing you could do. To do so, you can offer a Google Meet, Zoom or Microsoft Teams call to share your business background and professional goals, as well as, discuss your and your VA strengths and weaknesses to get the most of this relationship. Also, you can briefly go through your exceptions and requirements, the reasons why you have decided to outsource, and most importantly, the urgent tasks, which you are planning to delegate to your VA. Besides, it might be crucial to discuss what part or position your VA will take in your business; maybe he/she will be your Business Partner, Executive Assistant, Personal Assistant, Online Business Manager, Business Administration Manager, social media expert, SEO manager, HR and recruitment co-ordinator, real estate general administration VA etc.
3. Create a Feeling of Open Communication - It means, treating your VA as an , a part of your team, an extension, and as a part of your business. What is more, show appreciation for the efforts. Itand it might be useful to take advantage of instant messaging platforms, such as Threema, so you can be sure that relevant information is not buried in the pile of unread e-mails. However, if more details need to be discussed, voice or video calls are also an effective way to communicate.
4. Set-Up a Regular Meeting Schedule & Video Calls & Use Instant Communication Channels where possible - maybe you feel the most comfortable having weekly calls to discuss your goals and exceptions for the particular week, or you prefer having short calls every morning to go through the urgent tasks for that specific day. It does not matter which way you choose, but always take some extra time to state the primary purpose of each conversation. This way, you will be sure that you keep the focus on the key points for that particular task or project. Moreover, it might be useful to supply, or ask your VA to send you a summary, after your conversation so both of you will have an overall understanding of what is expected from the deliverable.
When you are ready to be inspired and wish to save time on the iniatives and the tedious projects, those repetitive tasks that are piling up, or if you wish to give yourself and your business the opportunity for a greater work efficiency, or even transform the culture of the company, to a healthier, more flexible work environment, reach out to us at Aspire VA - "We Aspire to Inspire You" - Virtual Business Solutions for all your business communication and business needs.
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