8 Tragic Mistakes You're Making When Using A Virtual Assistant

Jo Jensen

If you’ve taken the plunge and hired a Virtual Assistant, great, outsourcing happens to be one of the best investments you can make to grow your business!

But before you get too comfortable, you need to understand that merely hiring a virtual assistant isn't a silver bullet that will magically make all your problems go away…  

After years of experience serving clients, we can definitively say that there is a right way to use a VA in your business, as well as a number of faux pas you will want to avoid.  

So drop what you’re doing and read through our list of eight tragic mistakes to avoid if you hope to get the most from your VA relationship!    

Mistake #1 - Not communicating with them every day. 

Regular communication with your Virtual Assistant is vital. We would go as far as to say that it's the number one most important part of ensuring your client-VA relationship succeeds.

Too many times, I've seen people hire a VA, only to be completely non-communicative and unavailable before going on to say ‘it didn't work out..’ 

If you're not speaking to your Virtual Assistant at least once every few days, then I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that you're setting up the whole system to fail.

The communication need not be excessive; just a quick brain dump each morning on WhatsApp or via email is all it takes. 

As long as your VA knows what you’re thinking, and understands your priorities and expectations, they will become the proactive wizard you are hoping for.

As a guide, we like to say: “If you think you're over communicating then it's probably about right!”

Also, don’t forget to communicate feedback. You don’t want to be the person that provides a task to their VA, sees it wasn't done how they wanted it and throws their hands in the air exclaiming “see, I knew it wouldn't work!”.

If it isn't working with your VA or you're not getting what you want from them, tell them!

Can YOU communicate more? Clearer? Faster?

We suggest giving your VA feedback after each task. Tell them what you did like, what you didn't like, and provide suggestions on ways they can improve.

On the flip-side, if they did a great job, tell them that too! 

Bottom line and take away here is: You can't expect to get exceptional results from your VA if you don't communicate.         

Mistake #2 - Thinking a VA is going to fix all your issues from day one. 

Despite what people may tell you, a VA is not a quick fix solution to all your problems.

Virtual Assistants are only human, and like all human relationships, you have to be willing to invest some time if you want it to work.

By having a long-term lens on this professional partnership, you'll begin to understand that any time you spend up front will see you benefiting multiple times over in the long run.

When you first bring on a VA, we suggest having an initial handover of at least a few hours.

In this time, you should give them all of the business back story, as well as discussing your 'why', your goals, the operations of your business, who else is involved, the tools you use, the problems you have, your strengths, your weaknesses, your hopes and dreams for the relationship with them, what success would look like, everything!

Don't hold back because the more they know, the better they can make sound, informed decisions moving forward.

After this initial induction to your business, it's wise to invest in a daily catch up; just a quick WhatsApp voice message or phone call, whatever works for you both to ensure you’re giving them every chance of being successful in their role as your Virtual Assistant.        

Mistake #3 - When handing over tasks, you’re not giving them all the details they need up front. 

A cake isn’t going to taste good with half the ingredients missing, just like a task isn’t going to be completed correctly if you only give your VA half the information and expect them to perform a miracle.

The headache of back and forth time wasting can be avoided entirely by investing a little more time upfront to delegate a task with ALL the information.

'All the info' also means ensuring you give them the access/permissions they need. (Pro Tip - get LastPass!) 

Mistake #4 - Your VA makes a mistake, but rather than saying something; you fix it without mentioning it.

Remember, no one wants to fail!

Your VA wants to do a good job and is completely open to getting feedback so they can make you happy with what they are delivering.

If you don't say anything (for whatever reason) and you go ahead and fix it, then you might find yourself fixing it every time FOREVER.

Is that really what you engaged a virtual assistant for? Nope! 

The best thing to do is to tell them and/or show them.

By letting them know, even if they are never going to have to do that task again, your input will help them when it comes to related or similar jobs, and goes a long way to helping them understand your preferences and what's important to you.          

Mistake #5 - Not treating your VA like a real person. 

Don’t let the word ‘virtual’ fool you; a virtual assistant is a living, breathing person!

It can be easy to forget they are more than just a resource over the internet when you’ve never met them in person.  

It can help to remember that your VA has a family, a home, friends, feelings, emotions, wants and needs just like a regular employee that you might see every day.

With that in mind, it makes sense to treat them as such.

Ask them how their day is. Let them know they are doing a great job. Say please and thank you. Send them a gift on their birthday. These gestures are very much appreciated and go a long way to help build a fruitful, productive relationship.

Who are they going to do the best work for and go out of their way for - the client that values them or the client that doesn't?

Mistake #6 - Failure to delegate.

The whole reason you hired a VA was that it's an excellent way of getting things done.

You know, the things that you don't have time, the desire or skills to do yourself.

A failure to delegate completely defeats this purpose.

If you are struggling to find things to hand over to your VA, our best advice is to stop and spend time noticing the tasks you are doing on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Brain dump all these repetitive tasks into a list.

Taking the time to work out what to hand over might sound hard and boring but when you think about it, isn’t it harder and more boring to do things you don't like doing on and on, forever?

(If you’re stuck, take a look at the '101 tasks to delegate' here to give you some ideas)

We promise that once you start, you’ll suddenly have it front of mind, and when you go to complete a task, you'll stop and think - can I delegate this? The right answer is YES, yes you can!

Top delegation tip: Leave your ego at the door. Yes your VA can do it. (We hate to break it to you, but no, you're not the only one who can do that task!).

Mistake #7 - Not trusting them and wanting to control everything. 

No one likes a micro-manager, especially a micro-manager that gives tasks then takes them away again! Sound strange?

We’ve seen it all before. People that give tasks to their VA, then go on to do the task themselves because: ‘I saw it needed to be done and thought oh I'll just quickly do this…’

No. This does not make your VA feel trusted, valued or happy. If you delegate a task, you must resist the urge to do the task yourself. It is essential that you trust they'll get it done. If they don't do by the deadline, then see ‘mistake one’ above again (communicate with them!)

Mistake #8 - Not thanking them. 

This mistake is a big no-no and making it can result in hurt feelings all-round. Working for someone that seems ungrateful for your efforts is tough. The work your Virtual Assistant does will likely be saving you hours of time and allowing you to grow your business in all sorts of ways, so should be regarded as anything but a thankless job.

Like anyone, VA’s who feel valued will work a lot harder than those who don't. So it pays to use your manners! It's just part of being a nice person. 

Never underestimate the power of a good relationship with your Virtual Assistant!

This list of mistakes might come across as common sense, but take it from us, they can be easy mistakes to make if you're new to outsourcing.

We hope you'll take this info and use it to generate productive working relationships with your own VA. You are paying for the service, after all, so by getting the basics right; you can reap the many benefits outsourcing provides. 

If you'd like to find out more about how you can hire a virtual assistant, call us on +64 4 934 5668.

Jo Jensen


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