When working with a virtual assistant or team, giving and receiving feedback is a key to success. Create a system and expectation for doing this from the beginning of any work relationship.
If you are working with someone new to your support team, commit to feedback frequently. With an established team, schedule time for feedback after any big project or event, or at least once a quarter. This allows you to constantly assess and improve within your company.
Pluses and Deltas
The feedback process we suggest at Assistant Match is called “pluses and deltas.”
Plus (+) is the symbol for positive
Delta (Δ) is the symbol for change
When providing feedback with pluses and deltas, you identify both the positive and what can and should be changed in order to improve. This is a solution-oriented process. You do not dwell on things that were “bad” but instead, concentrate on what can be changed to make it “better” in the future.
This feedback process allows for everyone to be heard in a safe, constructive environment.
Let’s take an example and walk through the steps. A virtual assistant completed a research project related to customer leads. This is the first time the research was conducted by anyone other than the company president or sales representative. The president (P), virtual assistant (VA), and sales rep (SR) take part in the feedback process.
Step 1: BRAINSTORM PLUSES & DELTAS
Set a time limit. You may want to allow 5 minutes to brainstorm pluses and another 5 minutes to brainstorm deltas. When doing this with a group, select one person to record (type) every comment, but do not take time to ask questions or discuss yet. If someone has a question on something that is said, ask for it to be “starred” so you revisit it later. Over time this will become a natural process that can happen less formally.
Always provide feedback on the PROCESS, RELAIONSHIPS, and RESULTS
- SR is able to concentrate on converting sales and is able to get more done in a day since didn’t have to spend time doing research (SR)
- VA liked the amount of detailed search criteria SR provided (VA)
- 24-hour requested deadline was appropriate for the project (VA)
- A 3-hour turn around time would be ideal (SR)
- Data entered into the database rather than in a Word document makes for faster action and better sharing of information (P)
- Faster feedback helps VA be more effective during project (VA) * (starred)
Step 2: REVIEW LIST
Read each item out loud if the list is longer than 10 items. Be sure no items were mistakenly omitted and there are no additional ones to add.
- P wants to add that she liked that VA used a different website than the ones suggested in order to find the necessary info on a more difficult lead (P)
Step 3: CLARIFY
Most of the plusses and deltas will be self-explanatory. Take time to clarify any “starred” items. If conflicting items appear on the pluses and deltas lists, hear the view of both sides so everyone is on the same page. You may want to flesh out an idea that was brainstormed during Deltas to make it more thorough and to discuss if it is actionable.
- VA explains that if SR can give feedback on the quality of her research findings when she is in the beginning stage of the project, she will be sure the data will be helpful to SR so she doesn’t waste her time researching items that will not be useful
- SR clarifies that a fast turn-around time will allow for more sales conversions. VA clarifies that with her other responsibilities, she cannot make the research top priority, but she can attempt to complete it in less
than 24 hours when her workload allows
Step 4: COMMIT
Identify items from both lists that need action. Define that action. The appropriate person commits to it and a timeline is set if applicable.
- SR will continue to provide the same amount of information and search criteria to VA for future research projects, and VA will provide the same amount of detailed search results
- VA will enter information in the company database rather than a Word document
- SR will do his best to not make urgent requests, VA will immediately estimate how quickly she can get the research project complete, and SR will make himself available to provide quick answers and feedback whenever possible
With this process, you and your support team will be on the same page and will be able to move forward faster and in the direction you desire. Be sure to capture this process in a Word document or someplace else, and commit to acting on the deltas.