Last time we talked about how you can create your dream assistant. In that post, I shared my secret sauce for building a strong team. Did it surprise you??

Today I want to expand on this a bit and share some ideas for getting to know your new team member on a deeper level…and how you can ask the right questions to build a relationship of trust where everyone can be successful.

Capitalize on their strengths and skills.

Before you added someone to your team, you probably identified a role for them. You knew you needed administrative support, for instance, and you looked for someone who was skilled in that area. Someone who could organize your email, assist you with certain administrative tasks, and perhaps take control of your calendar or other organizational systems in your business.

You looked for a good administrative skill set, and you also looked for someone who made communication easy and simple. And so now you’re satisfied, right?

But, there’s more to your new team member than organizational and communication skills. Taking the time to discover these “hidden” strengths and abilities will help you create a deeper relationship with your team member and expand their role in your organization.

So ask yourself (and them) what else they do well…and what they’d like to do more of in the future.

  • Maybe your VA loves to write blog posts and has a dream of blogging in the future.
  • Perhaps your customer service is visually creative and makes great graphics for Instagram and Pinterest in her spare time.
  • Possibly your IT support person is fascinated formatting documents in Adobe.

Does this seem unlikely to you? You won’t know your team member’s strengths unless you ask about them and start a conversation about what they really enjoy. Try questions like these:

“What types of work do you do for other clients?” There’s likely more to their work than the things they do for you. You might discover natural ways to expand their role with you just by learning what they do for others.

“Is there anything you’d like to learn or wish you knew more about?” This question gets to the heart of their interests. Your new team member might wish they knew more about a certain software application you use, or about a social media platform, or about some aspect of your work. Talking to them opens your eyes to areas where you might provide additional training – and get more value from your relationship.

“What do you do for fun?” This question is a type of secret weapon that provides positive results in multiple ways. First, you get to know more about your team member personally and gain some insight into how she spends her free time and what she enjoys. Second, by understanding his hobbies and interests, you get clues about where his natural interests lie. An interest in photography, for instance, might lead to unique images for use in your marketing material.

Understand their motivation.

We all work for money. But don’t assume money is the only reason your new team member does her work. Beyond the amount you pay her, she has other reasons for giving you her best effort. Talking to her about her personal life and situation can help you better understand what drives her.

  • Maybe her work allows her to interact with adults and keep her business skills sharp while she raises small children from her home.
  • Perhaps this work gives him the flexibility to balance the demands of attending university with earning the money he needs to support himself.
  • Possibly she is building a business while working full time for a corporation because she’s always dreamed of being an entrepreneur and is finally making it happen.
  • Maybe he works as a freelancer because he wants to make his own decisions and be his own boss rather than being a part of a large corporate culture.

Your team member is likely motivated by lots of things. When you understand what is important to her, you can find ways to encourage her and support her in her efforts. This will quickly make you one of her favorite clients, and help you create a deep relationship of trust and mutual benefit.

Discover what they need to be successful.

As business owners, we only ask people we feel we can trust to join our team. We look for the traits and characteristics that mean integrity, honesty, and reliability in our minds when we consider potential contractors and team members. But what about them?

Your new team member needs to feel they can trust you, too. She needs to know without a doubt that you will treat her fairly, keep your word, and be reliable. She’s looking for the things she needs to serve you successfully.

What’s important to her? Maybe things like…

  • On time payment without questions or delay.
  • Clear instructions and availability for questions.
  • Reliable plans so work isn’t rushed or urgent all the time.
  • Willingness to share the big picture so she understands the purpose of her work.

What is most important to your new team member? The only way to find out is to ask questions and really listen to the answers…and keep asking. A simple “how do you feel about our work together?” asked sincerely during a phone call or meeting can give you priceless insight into how you can best support her in her work.

So…it’s up to you. What do you already know about your team member? More importantly, what questions do you need to ask to take your relationship to a deeper level?

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