So, you’ve decided it’s time to get some help, and you’ve hired a virtual assistant. Congratulations! You’ve taken a very important step in helping your business and your life run more smoothly.
Making the decision to delegate is big, and actually hiring someone is bigger, but the biggest thing you’ll need to overcome is a mindset shift. You’ve now committed to changing the way you operate, and that change cannot be ignored or understated. It needs to be recognized and nurtured.
As they say, no one likes change except wet babies. (And I know this well, as I care for a baby of my own!)
How can you make this change as easy as possible for yourself? How can you follow through with the change so that your new relationship with your VA is successful? Here are some tips for working with a virtual assistant from a change-resistant-turned-change-acceptant leader. (That’s me!)
1. Understand That There Will Be Bumps in the Road
One of the main reasons that leaders, managers, and entrepreneurs are so resistant to hiring an assistant is that we believe no one can do it as well as we can. This was me in a nutshell. I always thought, “Well, it’s going to take more work and time for me to teach someone else how to do something, so why not just do it myself?”
When I audited my time and discovered what I was most uniquely qualified to do, I realized that some of the other smaller things not only were getting pushed off until the last minute but also that I was no longer the best candidate to do them. It was at that point that I realized I had to let them go, whether I wanted to or not.
I created process documents and videos to help the next person do these tasks, but I quickly learned that even the most detailed processes can’t keep everyone from making a mistake from time to time. And you know what? That’s actually okay. Because through making mistakes, they learned, and I realized that mistakes usually are not life-threatening.
What’s more, I found that when I hired someone who was right for the job, they often found better and more efficient ways to do things. Any mistakes or bumps in the road became worth it because now I had someone I could trust to do all the work that I was no longer qualified to do.
2. Learn How to Give Constructive Feedback
There’s nothing worse than knowing something is wrong but not knowing how to communicate it in an effective way. It’s so frustrating when you don’t know how to tell someone something—positive or negative—because you’re worried about their feelings. You don’t want them to feel defeated when they screw up, and at the same time, you don’t want them to get an overinflated ego if they do something well.
This has been a huge struggle of mine as a leader, especially as a leader of a virtual team. It’s not easy giving feedback when you can’t see someone’s body language and feel their energy face-to-face.
For me, the next best thing is a video call. It helps to have these calls weekly as a standing time to discuss projects and tasks—and give ongoing feedback. If you always wait to schedule a call when you have something negative to share, both you and your assistant will dread getting on a call, and you’ll start to develop a toxic relationship.
3. Establish and Stick to Consistent Boundaries
The goal of hiring an assistant is to free some of your time for big ideas, strategizing, managing, and otherwise being in charge. You can’t do those things if you aren’t putting some restrictions on your time and your availability, but it’s easy to let yourself get distracted when you have all this newfound free time!
Instead of finding more ways to bog yourself down, use your assistant to help you create and enforce boundaries. You can’t say yes to the things you love without saying no to everything else.
Allow yourself to be comfortable with these new restrictions on your time, and know that they will help you stay true to your mission and grow your business. If you’re sentimental or have a hard time saying “no,” let your assistant handle the difficult task of delivering the news, so you don’t feel like you’re letting people down.
4. Accept That No One Will Ever Care as Much as You Do
No matter how long someone works for you, how much time you invest in training them, or how much brain-dumping you do, your business is your baby. You can never expect someone else, ANYONE else, to care about your baby as much as you do. So don’t even try.
Instead, do your best to impart your mission and your values to your assistant. Help them understand why you started the business in the first place and what makes you feel like you’ve achieved success.
The best assistants will take your mission to heart and work toward them with you. They’ll learn from you so that they can one day make the same decisions you would make. But they’ll never replace you, and that’s important to remember.
5. Don’t Give Up on Working with a Virtual Assistant
There’s a reason we have a three-month minimum commitment on contracts with new clients. It’s because it can often take that long (or longer!) to establish a good relationship, get into a routine, and commit to the new change in operations. A lot of people don’t want to make this commitment to working with a virtual assistant, and I can understand why—it’s because they’re not ready to make the psychological change that goes into hiring someone to be your right hand.
I can assure you that the more time and energy you put into training and building your assistant’s understanding of your business, the more success you’ll have. You’ll start to see possibilities for your life that you may never have dreamed of. Once you trust someone to help you, your mind opens up, and opportunities begin to appear.
Soon, you’ll be working fewer hours, and those precious hours will be spent doing the deep work your business deserves. Ultimately, the amount that you’re able to grow directly depends on how much you’re willing to let go.
What will you let go of today? Get in touch to schedule your free consultation right now!
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Jess Tyson, CEO & Director of Calm
Jess is the founder and proud Director of Calm at Don’t Panic Management. (And yes, she invented that title because that’s what you do when you’re the boss!) She wrote the book on how building a successful relationship with a virtual assistant can make all the difference in helping business owners get to the next level. Her life is often a whirlwind of wrangling her toddler, speaking at conferences (virtual and beyond!), researching productivity hacks, and meticulously making matches between overworked entrepreneurs and focused virtual assistants. Jess's first book, Panic Proof: How the Right Virtual Assistant Can Save Your Sanity and Grow Your Business is available now: panicproofbook.com
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