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10 of the most Common Mistakes When Working with a Virtual Assistant

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Working with a Virtual Assistant is a learning curve. Having to delegate work and resisting the urge to do everything by yourself can be tricky. Additionally, having someone work for you and then you feeling you have to go over the same tasks again,could be very frustrating.

The world is small and has never been better connected but widespread remote work is comparatively still in its infancy. This challenging area of business brings about new demands but none of them is insurmountable if it is done properly.

So let’s focus on the most frequent mistakes made while working with a Virtual Assistant and how to avoid them.

1.     Hiring a virtual assistant for the wrong reasons

Don’t hire a virtual assistant just because it’s what Tim Ferriss did or because you heard that’s what entrepreneurs do.

Do think carefully what you want this person to do. Do think about the kind of tasks you could delegate, write them down and work out the amount of free time you would gain and if it makes sense for you.

Find out if you are the kind of person who needs a Virtual Assistant

2.     Hiring a virtual assistant for one specific task

Don’t use people just to fill a certain void and do one task. It will end up with you having to delegate and monitor, and it will in the end increase your workload and additionally stress you out.

Do hire people to fill a role. This way you are giving the person a chance to step up and take over without you overseeing everything. When you give your assistant independence, they will want to work harder to prove to you that they are capable and hardworking and this will reflect positively on your overall brand. You can set up a weekly meeting with them to check on their progress and resolve any issues that arise just to make sure everything is on the right track.

Read our Strategies for Delegating Successfully to a Virtual Assistant

3.     Looking at people like costs

Don’t look at virtual assistants or any employees through how much they are costing you. You are much less likely to be happy working with an assistant if all you are thinking about is how much they are costing you, and that kind of mentality may hinder your business in the long run.

Do look at your VA as an investment. Essentially, an assistant is an investment in your business. They will help you take the load off, do the boring admin, they will be independent and brainstorm ideas and bring fresh perspective which can help grow your business and your income.

4.      Not setting clear enough goals for your VA

Don’t just say “Do a great job” when asked about what you want a project to look like. Most likely, the outcome will not be satisfactory and you will be left feeling disappointed all because you didn’t communicate exact expectations.

Do: Tell your assistant exactly how you want a task to be done. They will have clear guidelines they can refer back to, and they are much more likely to go the extra mile and present you with a result that exceeds all expectations. The work on your side is an investment in the future.

5.  Not giving your VA enough independence

Don’t feel the need to double-check everything and micromanage. It will have a totally opposite effect of what you were trying to achieve. Not being in the same office as your virtual assistant is challenging but you hired them for a reason, so you need to have a little faith in them.

Do: Give your assistant as much freedom as possible and you will be delighted with the results. Your workload will be lighter and you will feel much more successful. Instead of checking all the time, book a 30 minute call with your VA every week just to make sure things are on the right track and so you can provide them with some feedback.

Read this Case Study on Working with a Virtual Assistant

6.      Not preparing any documentation

Don’t leave everything to chance and avoid documenting it. Imagine someone needing to take over a project because your assistant is on vacation. There is no documentation on what they were working on, how they completed the tasks and this puts you in a very bad position.

Do document tasks and procedures you want your virtual assistant to undertake and let your VA know if they should document all steps in the process of completing a project. This way you are covered and the other person can take over without much difficulty.

Check out this great hack for using Video to Document a Process.

7.      Not communicating well enough

Don’t “talk” to your virtual assistant solely via email, WhatsApp or other written messages. Good communication is of paramount importance for a healthy working relationship.

Do set up a weekly call with your assistant. It is easier to communicate and get your point across and it is sort of mimics the real life conversation you would have in an office. A video call is ideal so you can see each other, concentrate on the relevant discussion points and build a better working relationship.

Read our 10 Tips on Communicating with a VA

8.      Not giving people enough credit

Don’t forget to praise your assistant when they’ve done a great job. Juggling your work, home and social life is challenging by itself and you expect the best from your virtual assistant but remember that taking the time to show gratitude builds a strong bond.

Do: Just as you would correct a mistake they make so you should say “thank you” and “congratulations” when they turn in a good project or you see they’ve gone the extra mile to do something. It will give them an extra push of motivation and reassurance that they are valuable and doing very well.

Read our guide on How to Give Feedback to a VA

9.      Not using Project Management Tools

Don’t settle for going over all tasks via email or WhatsApp. It’s messy and difficult to keep tracks of all that needs to be done and what has been finished.

Do: Use a project management tool. That way you always know how things are coming on, what has been completed and where you stand. You can upload relevant files, exchange sensitive information securely and have a complete track of a project or task.

Here at bizee.co we use Asana.com for logging and tracking tasks.

10.  Not letting assistants use their full potential

Don’t just give your virtual assistant the task of handling the mundane admin where neither you nor they get to explore the extent of their capabilities.

Do: Sure, it makes sense in the short term to start slowly but it is worth exploring. Give your VA something different or creative they can work on and they might surprise you. By giving them liberty to explore you might discover traits about them you weren’t aware of. Ask them for input, it is a great way for you to teach them about your business but also when they understand dmore may be very useful for you.