Virtual Assistants (VA) are remote desktop assistants. They provide administrative, clerical and support services that can range from scheduling conference calls and sending invoices to more complex public relations, marketing and project management tasks. Here are seven common mistakes to avoid when working with AVs.
1. Hire for tasks instead of filling roles
Outsource a task and you might save an hour. Outsource a role and you save yourself a job. Until the real AI revolution sweeps the world, the best virtual advisors are people who can think for himself. When you hire people to perform tasks, you are not taking advantage of this phenomenal human trait. When you outsource tasks, once each one is completed, you then have to spend time delegating a new one. When you hire someone to fill a role, they can be trained to perform all the tasks associated with that role, minimizing management time.
2. Micromanaging a VA
We all know we shouldn’t, but if you’re a perfectionist, it can be hard to let someone else handle the reins of a business operation or task. Yet micromanagement is one of the the most harmful habits an executive can have. When you micromanage, you become an operational bottleneck within your organization. It’s not that accountability shouldn’t end with the boss, but when accountability has been chopped into too many indistinguishable pieces, teams can’t predict your expectations and make independent decisions. Virtual assistants are supposed to free up your time, but if you micromanage, you’ll end up spending more time delegating specific tasks than you’ll gain with their help. Which brings us to our next mistake…
3. DO NOT USE A SYSTEM
Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to have your cake and eat it too? In the context of virtual assistants, it may be possible to maintain one’s perfectionism without succumbing to the pitfalls of micromanagement. By creating clear, step-by-step procedures for how certain tasks should be done, you can eliminate the guesswork and confusion that typically prevents teams working under micromanagers from being proactive and productive.
4. Failing to define a clear role or scope
When working with a VA, or any other remote freelancer for that matter, it’s important to clearly define the role and scope of the project. You can accomplish this by write a clear project description for hiring a VA. Make a list of the specific tasks (social media posts, booking travel, scheduling meetings, etc.) of the role you want to outsource. Create a picture of the responsibilities, skills and experience required for this role. Specify whether this is a long-term rental or a one-time gig. Transparency will save you headaches and unmet expectations in the future.
5. Thinking you can fix it 100% and forget about it
Just because you don’t want to micromanage doesn’t mean you want to be an absentee manager either. You will still want to periodically check in on the projects and tasks you have assigned to your VA and provide feedback on their performance. If not, how is your VA supposed to learn to better serve your business needs? Fortunately, many project management tools are here to help you better manage your AV and other team members. There is even freelance management systems specially designed to help you work with VAs and other freelancers remotely.
6. Failing to build trust
Virtual assistants can wear many hats. They can relieve you of all the repetitive, administrative and clerical tasks associated with marketing, accounting, IT, sales and more. But to take full advantage of a VA’s skills, you’ll need to be able to trust them. Trust must be established; it’s a two-way street. First you need to check if you are actually willing to delegate responsibilities to a VA. Next, you need to be able to filter your shortlist and judge intangibles like personality and attitude. To consider use test projects in your hiring process to help you select the right VA for your team.
7. NOT REALIZING AVs ARE MORE THAN COSTS ON A SPREADSHEET
Yes, it is important to take into account cost of hiring a VA; budgets must be balanced. However, it’s even more important to remember that when you hire a VA, you’re really investing in someone, a new team member who can help take your business to new heights. Praise your VA for their successes. Keep your criticism constructive. The VA you bring to the team today could become a full-fledged project manager tomorrow. Grow your investments and they will pay dividends in the future.