If you’ve tried your hand at working with a virtual assistant in the past and it hasn’t worked out, you’re not alone.
We’ve had it happen, and we’ve lost count of the clients who’ve come to us after having a bad experience in the past.
There are many different reasons why a virtual assistant hasn’t worked, in most cases there’s lessons to be learned so the next time you dip your toes in the virtual support water, they don’t get bitten!
Problem: You're asking your VA to be/do everything
VAs are experts in all things administration, with experience in a wide range of areas. Depending on what you need, having someone whose specific skillset is tailored to complement the tasks you’re delegating is life-changing. The most important thing is to ensure your expectations are reasonable and well communicated.
Let’s say you’re hiring a VA to organise your calendar or inbox, then a VA with strengths in EA and admin will meet those expectations. However, if you need help in a niche area, you want a specialist VA. Having someone handle a project with skills they’ve spent years advancing will make a noticeable difference. But you can’t expect one VA to be both.
VA’s have evolved from being jack of all trades to true specialists and building a VA team with the skills you need will save you frustration (and money) down the track.
Solution: Be specific about the skills you need to delegate
Problem: You're delegating without leading
Your VA might have a crystal clear understanding of their responsibilities, but if you haven’t prepared the proper tools, systems and resources for them, they can’t fulfil them. Delegating isn’t as easy as giving a directive and leaving your VA to it. You need to prepare everything your VA needs to execute their assigned tasks, including SOPs, processes, etc. The tasks should be measurable (with KPIs) so that your VA knows what they need to do and how.
It also helps your VA to know the why. You should educate your VA on your business strategy, vision, values, and more. Knowing what their role is in helping you reach your goals means they can connect the finer details to the big picture.
While a VA won’t need you to hold their hand, they still require ongoing leadership to perform their tasks to your standards. Remember that the more information you give your VA, the better a job they will do.
Solution: Invest time to lead your VA and involve them in the bigger picture
Problem: You're completely focused on time and money
Hiring a cheap VA seems like a good idea at first, but it nearly always costs more in the long run. You get what you pay for, and can easily end up with someone who lacks the skills they claimed to have. VAs are priced based on their level of expertise, so if their prices are too low, then they’ll probably end up costing you more in time and money later down the road.
Disclaimer: there are certain tasks lower priced VAs are perfect for and will save you money. These are the tasks that follow a set of steps and don’t require a particular skillset or level of experience.
Even if you give your VA clear instructions and training, you want to dedicate some time to manage them. You need to make time to check their progress, make yourself available to talk through tasks and projects with them, making sure you’re on the same page and moving forward.
A VA is an investment (consider the ROI), so you can’t cut corners by hiring cheap and not spending time managing them, and get the benefits of saving time, money, and utilising their talents.
Solution: Focus on the deliverables and output, are you getting good return on your investment?
Problem: You and your VA just don't click
Let me ask you this…
- Is your VA consistently over-promising and under-delivering?
- Does your VA always have an excuse for missing deadlines?
- Is your VA unresponsive to you reaching out?
- Is your VA listening and following instructions?
- Is your VA someone you feel comfortable talking to, someone who’s opinion you value?
- Are you setting last-minute tasks with a rushed turnover?
- Are you effectively communicating deliverables and deadlines?
- Are you providing all of the tools, resources and access your VA requires?
There can be a million reasons why you don’t click with your VA. It could be their skills don’t align with what you need, a breakdown in communication or conflicting work styles. Sometimes this can be fixed with new structures and processes, but other times it’s better to find someone more suited to you. To find out which category you fit into, you need to sit down and reflect on why you don’t click and whether it can change.
We also recommend scheduling a monthly check-in with your VA. Not your normal weekly huddle, rather a separate conversation where you discuss what’s working, what isn’t to address improvements on both sides. If you’re raising an issue more than once, it’s probably time to move on.
If it’s a personality mis-alignment again we suggest you cut your ties sooner rather than later. We’ve had this come up occasionally, sometimes personalities just don’t gel. Finding another match where personality is the issue has always fixed the problem.
Solution: Identify the issue, discuss and solve. If it's not something that can be fixed, end on a positive note and find a VA who is a good fit for you.
Your Needs (more than a VA?)
Problem: You need someone more strategic and proactive than a VA
Perhaps absolutely none of the above resonates with why your VA didn’t work for you. Maybe you worked with your VA for a while and it didn’t go badly, but you didn’t get what you wanted out of it. Maybe what you need isn’t a virtual assistant, but a virtual business manager.
A VA does the tasks that you don’t want, can’t, or shouldn’t do. They give you the luxury of more time and expertise, but their help in making your business grow can only go so far. On the other hand, a VBM offers business support that goes above and beyond what any assistant can do. Our VBMs help take your ideas and make them a reality, looking at how the finer details will lead to your big picture goals. They are strategists and integrators that come with more experience and expertise, and they don’t require any training.
You could be asking more of your VA than they’re capable of. Take it as a sign that you’re ready for the next step, a VBM.