The Art of Nagging

By , Founder of the CEO Business School for Transformational Leaders

Solo-E Certified Solo Entrepreneur Expert

Tina Forsyth - Founder of the CEO Business School for Transformational Leaders

I was talking to a colleague of mine yesterday who was sharing that she loves her Virtual Assistant, but in her words:

     “the one thing that she won’t do is nag me to get stuff done… I need someone to nag me like my mom does!”

Now this may make you chuckle, but it really is a very common complaint that I hear from business owners… they really want someone who is going to keep them on task. Someone who will follow up with them to ensure that they are doing the things that need to be done – and perhaps nudge them along or hold them accountable when they don’t stay on task. I like to call this being a ‘professional nag’ for your clients.

And yet many VAs out there aren’t doing a very good job of this. Even when their clients specifically ask them to ‘be a nag’ they still aren’t doing it.

Where is the disconnect? I am a natural nag (just ask my husband, haha) so I think that I take for granted that this is an easy thing to do. But when I step back and look at it from an objective perspective I have to wonder if part of the problem is that

    a) people just don’t know how to nag and

    b) they aren’t comfortable doing it.

So let’s break it down a bit and take a look at how we can lovingly nag our clients.

   1. Understand why nagging is important! At face value it is easy to think that our clients shouldn’t need to be nagged – after all, we are all adults and it is their business right? Shouldn’t they already be motivated to get things done? Even with the best of intentions, most business owners are simply too busy or distracted and they forget about or lose track of priorities in their own business. They want someone who is going to remind them of what is important and help them keep it front of mind. Once you *get* this you can see where nagging is actually a very important benefit to your clients.

   2. Ask them for regular updates on project X. Sometimes the simple act of knowing that you are going to be asking them on a regular basis about X is enough to get people moving. Make sure to give them a deadline for completing X or remind them of a previously set deadline… people are more likely to complete a task when they know they have a deadline (it’s human nature).

   3. Ask them where they are stuck. If something isn’t getting done it is usually symptomatic of an underlying issue. For example, let’s say you are waiting on your client to write an article for the newsletter. It could be that they can’t think of a topic to write about (brainstorm with them) or they know what they want to write about but haven’t had the time to sit down and do it (start the article for them and have them edit/finish it). In some cases it could be that priorities have shifted and project X is no longer as important as it was. Regardless of the cause, if you ask where things are stuck then you can look at ways to help move things forward or let things go.

   4. Look for ways to clear their plate. A lot of times our clients get busy or distracted with things that they actually shouldn’t be doing. If your client seems overwhelmed to the point where things aren’t getting done take a look at where they are spending their time. Chances are that there is some stuff that you or another team member could take off of their plate to free them up to focus on other things.

   5. Ask them how the want to be nagged. You might have it in your head that it needs to be some big elaborate nagging solution, when all they actually want is for you to ask them once a week about X. Or maybe send them a weekly list of ‘projects on the go’.

Nagging is actually more of an art than a science – there is no one way that is going to work for all clients. And a certain approach that works really well with one client may not work for another. So look to be a bit creative when you can, consider different ways that you could help your clients get things done and aim to have some fun along the way!

For example, I have a running joke with my business partners where I’m ‘The Boot’. In our relationship I’m the one responsible to do the nagging, and so we have some fun and joke about it – ‘Oh no! Tina is putting on The Boot to kick our butts into gear – watch out!’ LOL

The heart of nagging is about providing a constant reminder to your client about what is important – so that they can refocus themselves to do the things that are important. Regardless of what that constant reminder looks like, be sure to do it.

A formerly overwhelmed entrepreneur and recovering control-freak, Tina Forsyth is passionate about helping conscious CEOs and entrepreneurs build a business that can run without them. As the author of The Entrepreneurs Trap and creator of the CEO Business School, Tina teaches transformational leaders how to get the right systems, team and leveraged revenue streams in place for profitable and sustainable success.  Tina also founded the International Association of Online Business Managers and is the creator of the Certified OBM™ Training– the only program of its kind to train high-end virtual managers.

© Copyright 2009 Tina Forsyth

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