What kept me from pursuing a Team Lead role in the past was my tendency to micromanage. I like things done in a particular way, and I used to get annoyed where they weren’t.
Naturally, what got you here won’t get you there. Your expertise, ease of problem-solving, and familiarity with the domain field (say a codebase) become obstacles to delegation. You’re thinking to yourself
“I can solve this in a pinch and they’re messing with it for a week“.
That was my main reason to doubt if I can be a capable Team Lead. I decided to test this self-narrative and maybe improve. I hired a Virtual Assistant that would charge me money. I’d lose this money if I didn’t delegate.
Sure enough, in the beginning, I questioned that decision. It was more work to explain to my VA how I want stuff done than doing it myself. Quite often, she would do something different than I’d like. Other times – It would be too slow.
It made me work on my communication, expectations, and, most importantly – the inner game of delegation. I learned to let go and trust her, and I’m delighted now.
I still have a lot to learn about being a great Team Lead, but without these lessons, it would be even more traumatic for my team.
More about hiring a Virtual Assistant
How much does it cost?
I pay ~$15/hour, $200 monthly minimum, but that’s in Poland. I have a contract with a small VA “shop.” I have 1 point of contact, but there are other people managing my affairs.
Being a better TL was not the only reason I wanted to hire a VA. Because of my specific family situation, I have to manage particular affairs of my grandparents and my mom, which was intruding on my work time. I also value time more than I value money, and buying back some of it seemed like a good way to live a happier life.
There are certain things I hate doing and tend to put off. It’s awesome to be able to delegate that.
What sorts of tasks do you delegate?
Dealing with calling businesses, quarterly checklists of all the utilities for me and my broader family, research of the baby gear (try to hunt used ones where possible), scheduling doctors & home repairs, getting Turkish Airlines to refund me tickets, sort stock photos I bought for the blog, manage online shopping returns, repair my mom’s printer, finding me a local donate-to-a-park scheme, sort my dog’s bark sounds for the ML model, etc.
How do you find a great Virtual Assistant?
I took Ramit Sethi’s course “Delegate and Done” about hiring a VA, and not everybody is prepared to go to such lengths (Do you see now why I may have micro managerial issues? 😀 ).
- I prepared a Google doc with a couple of questions and typical tasks, and I asked candidates to describe how they’d tackle them
- I Googled VA’s, went on Facebook groups to find VA groups
- I’ve read what they wrote, sent the doc to ones that sounded good
- Set up a Zoom call, to see how we chat in person
- Signed a contract