Policies are important, as we all know, so that everyone knows the ‘rules’ and it makes for a better working relationship — from clients to team members, and everyone else you might work with.
The thing that caught several people off guard is that I told them I delete my client emails after 60 days. I don’t keep their documents or information on my computer. Once it’s delivered to the client, I delete it.
Audible gasps were heard when I told them this.
Why would I do that? What if I needed something? How could I do that and feel comfortable with it?
It almost seems irresponsible. But in fact, it’s exactly the opposite!
I give the same answer each time. I am responsible TO my clients, not FOR them.
I do their work and I provide it back to them on deadline (whether it’s an email draft or a product launch). I am responsible to get them what I say I am going to get them.
I am not responsible to keep it for them forever and a day in case they need it.
I am responsible to make sure that they know where it is, and how to access it.
When things need to be kept or filed, we have collaborative places that I will put that stuff (like Dropbox, Google Docs, Central Desktop or whatever). I don’t keep it in a folder on my own computer – I email it to the client and/or upload it to the collaborative place where it needs to be – and then I remove it from my own computer.
Same thing with emails – if they are essential to keep (ie if they have information in them that needs to be kept long term), they get copied & pasted into a doc if necessary and uploaded to our collaborative places. Other than that, they don’t need to fill up my computer. The client is free to keep as much email as they want, but it’s my policy that once something is finished, it’s finished.
Now this system may not work for you – or it may send you into a panic or a frenzy! – but what it is meant to illustrate is that we are responsible to our clients to complete the work they need. We are not responsible to keep all of their business documentation – THEY are responsible to keep all of their stuff (whether in their own email, their own computer or a central location that is shared as mentioned).
The key here is that each of us is our own business owner, and we have to take responsibility for our own business as such. I keep most correspondence from my own VA. I don’t expect her to keep it herself – although we do work with Teamwork PM as a collaborative software – so all correspondence and documentation comes through that anyway. I can feel comfortable deleting my emails from her because I know they are already kept there.
This always turns into quite a discussion when I bring it up with other VAs – I would love to hear your take on it.
How are you doing things – are you being responsible TO or FOR your clients?
I’ll post this article on my Facebook page too – I’d love to see your comments on it! www.facebook.com/yourvamentor.