More and more busy professionals and business owners are discovering the advantages of outsourcing some of their workload to remotely based virtual assistants. The vast majority of people have found working with virtual assistants to be an effective and efficient way to free up time and perform more value-added work, safe in the knowledge that necessary but repetitive, time-consuming tasks still get done.
Give Your Virtual Assistants a Fighting Chance
For those who have found working with virtual assistants to be less rewarding, a closer appraisal of the working relationship may often reveal mistakes made on the part of the client, rather than the VA. Some of those mistakes are more common than others, which probably means they are easier to make and perhaps not obvious to somebody working with a virtual assistant for the first time.
There are certain protocols necessary to enjoy success with a VA, without which, your new helper will not have much of a chance to make a good impression and provide a return on your investment.
If you can avoid making the following three errors, you should very quickly be able to gain tangible benefits from working with a virtual assistant.
Expecting Your VA to Be A Mind Reader
Many VAs are multi-skilled and probably have some strengths which you lack—that’s one of the key advantages of working with virtual assistants. However, I’ve yet to come across one that can actually read minds, so it’s a big mistake to assume your VA can intuitively know how you want things done.
OK, perhaps I’m being facetious, but clients often make the mistake of setting their VAs to work without sharing any information about how they want things done.
Before your VA goes to work, he will need some detailed documentation outlining your preferences for completing the tasks you delegate.
Yes, unfortunately that does require you to perform something of a brain dump, but the time you spend on preparing information for your VA will pay dividends in terms of getting things done right first time.
Assuming Your Instructions Are Understood
This mistake has been made over and over by clients when working with virtual assistants based nationally and overseas. There are many things that can stand in the way of understanding, including spoken accents, hearing difficulties, the way that instructions are delivered, and in some cases, language barriers.
Depending on the tasks you will assign to your VA, a hearing problem or a lack of absolute fluency in your native language does not mean for one moment that the VA can’t achieve the goals you seek to attain. All it takes is for you to make absolutely sure your instructions have been understood.
You can easily check for understanding, whether your instructions are given verbally or in writing. Simply ask your virtual assistant to provide some feedback that confirms to you that she has “got it”. For example, you might ask your assistant to explain the task in her own words (verbal or written). This gives you the chance to clarify any points that seem not to have been understood clearly.
Obviously, in order to catch any potential misunderstandings, it’s important to pay close attention to your VA’s feedback. If you don’t, you will have wasted the clarification opportunity and can’t really blame the assistant if the job is not completed to your satisfaction.
Neglecting to Check in With Your VA
Of course when you work with a virtual assistant, you expect that he will be able to complete your tasks without much input from yourself. That’s fine, but don’t expect it right from the outset.
If you don’t follow up mid-task for the first few times, you shouldn’t be surprised if the outcome is not perfect or if you get interrupted by your VA asking for guidance. The same is true if you set a task that your assistant hasn’t completed for you previously.
Be prepared to burn a little extra time initially, to coach and support your virtual assistant through new tasks. By doing so, you’ll get the right result and over the longer term, will be able to take your hands off completely.
Remember: Virtual Doesn’t Mean Automated
Your new VA is a person, not a machine. That’s why you can give her tasks that an automated VA service could never do for you. However that means that when working with a virtual assistant, you can’t treat him/her like an automaton.
The best VA you can have is one that stays with you long term and that you can rely on as you would an employee.
To achieve that, you need to invest a little training time, have a little patience, offer some initial support, and then take your hands off the wheel. Clients that make the mistakes listed in this article, often end up feeling they are throwing money away.
If you avoid these mistakes, the small amount of extra time you invest at the beginning, will be paid back many times over, since you will have a VA who’s confident and competent to meet your objectives. You’ll then be free to spend your valuable time on activities leading directly to business growth and success.