Traits of a World-class Virtual Assistant

There’s a hierarchy of traits that a World Class Virtual Assistant (VA) needs to acquire and master before they can be considered a model virtual employee. Once a VA reaches the top tier, they become an indispensable asset to your organisation.

These character traits include being punctual, organised, proactive, creative, and other important virtues that promote good behaviour.

We have outlined below the structure of these character traits that make up a world-class VA!

The Foundation of World-Class VA

• Turning Up on Time

• Proactive

• Being Organized

• Effective Communication

The Rising Star World-Class VA

• Managing Up

• Set Expectations

• Thinking Outside of the Box

The World-Class Virtual Assistant

• Creating Processes as they Learn

• Going Above and Beyond

• Seeking Continous Improvement

The Foundation

Effective communication encourages a healthy and peaceful work environment. A great VA knows this, so they set proper expectations on deliverables and explain when they can get the task or project done. Let’s take a look at the foundational traits of a world-class virtual assistant:

1. Turning Up on Time

Different cultures all over the world have varying levels of stringent expectation versus laxness when it comes to punctuality.

However, in the professional context, it is always a positive sign of respect to turn up on time. It conveys the message that you respect other people’s time and appreciates that they allowed you to share in it.

These are the manifestations of punctuality:

Clocking-in on time. It is the easiest way to show your Cluster Manager that you are already at your work desk, ready to face the day ahead.

Attending your DRC (Daily Roll Call), preferably bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Everyone loves an optimistic colleague because the positivity is contagious – in a good way!

Attending other scheduled meetings (WIPs and catch-ups) on time. Touching base with your CMs and teammates helps keep projects running smoothly.

2. Proactive

When crew members are proactive, they will see getting the job done as the most basic component of their role and will always seek ways to do more and to be more. They are the ones who act as opposed to reacting.

They can plan for the future. They think about what they can do tomorrow to do their job well.

They are engaged. They don’t sit around passively watching other people. They take the initiative to get things done.

They show foresight. This is the ability to anticipate things before they occur and imagine possibilities based on observation.

They are doers. This is about taking immediate action to do what needs to be done and taking accountability for things.

3. Being Organised

Proper time and project management is an indispensable part of being organised as a virtual worker. By using the right project management tools like TeamWork, you make it easier for yourself to organise and prioritise your tasks as well as create transparency and accountability in reporting the successful accomplishment of these to your client.

Here are a few more tips to help you along the way towards mastering self-organisation:

Make use of time blocking. Wherever possible, try blocking hours in your day according to thematically related activities. This helps you build momentum and minimise cognitive distraction.

Make a list and prioritise. Not all tasks are immediately urgent or equally important. Prioritise the ones that are most urgent and important then the rest can follow.

Stick to agreed-upon work hours. Be clear with your clients about your “office hours” and when they can expect a timely response from you.

4. Effective Communication

Among the most cited aspects of effective communication include the ability to listen with empathy, availability, knowing how to ask the right questions, and specificity and conciseness in relaying messages to avoid ambiguity. Possessing these traits encourages a healthy and peaceful work environment.

Also, they minimise the incidence of communication distortions that lead to misunderstanding and conflict.

Great VAs know how invaluable effective communication is to setting proper expectations on deliverables and stating when tasks or projects can be completed.

Rising Star

Possessing traits that are a step above the basic foundational characteristics of a good VA is the ‘Rising Star’. Here are the personality markers of a virtual assistant that exemplifies having that ‘something extra’:

5. Managing up

Managing up is the process of managing one’s manager. Great VAs are excellent at this. They learn to understand their manager, their personality quirks, what they like to see and what they do not like to see.

Here are tips on how to manage your manager well:

Develop a positive relationship. Get to know your manager as a person so you can gain insight into their goals, perspectives, motivations, and behaviour.

Understand their goals and align your needs with them. Communicate how you make your endeavours a win-win for everyone.

Keep them informed. Never leave your manager blindsided or unaware of important issues.

Nurture an open feedback loop. Express your thoughts, insights, and concerns constructively and respectfully.

Do your job well. By doing this, you give your manager a reason to celebrate your achievements which is a win for the entire organisation.

6. Set Expectations

A great VA will not be shy when it comes to setting expectations around deadlines and deliverables. If clients are being overly unrealistic about a deadline, you will tell them so and will state precisely when you can get the task/project done.

Here are a few tips on how to manage deadlines better:

Evaluate the requirements. Identify and map out the work that needs to be done, leaving nothing to chance.

Obtain the right resources. Does this task or project have the right people, equipment, training, or materials ready and available in time to accomplish the deliverable?

Anticipate or make allowances for problems. Expect that things don’t always go perfectly according to plan. Do some contingency planning in case someone else (a buddy) has to step in and take over tasks in case of an emergency.

Plan in detail. Break tasks down into small components and create deadlines for each one.

7. Thinking out of the box

In business, the term “out of the box thinking” is a metaphor that refers to the ability to think from a different perspective. It originally came from some management consulting firms that were trying to solve problems in new ways. What this means in the everyday context of a Virtual Assistant is that he/she will look for any way possible to solve a problem.

Here are some ways to flex your “out-of-the-box” thinking muscles:

Work backwards. Also known as “beginning with the end in mind” or reverse-engineering, working backwards breaks the brain’s normal conception of causality. To solve a problem, sometimes you have to start with a goal and think back through the steps needed to reach it until you get to where you are right now.

Enroll in a course dealing with a subject matter you are unfamiliar/uncomfortable with, but might be relevant to the problem you’re trying to solve.


The mindset of a world-class Virtual Assistant is unique: They continually seek improvement; they understand that to remain stagnant is to live an intellectually boring and lazy life. With this mindset, they’re great at thinking outside the box.

8. Creating Processes as You Learn

A great VA knows that it will be easier to get the job done the next time if you document and improve upon processes. This is also invaluable should you leave, as it makes for a pain-free transition to your VA successor or knowledge transfer to your teammates.

Here are the steps to creating an effective knowledge transfer process:

Identify Key Activities. These are the activities that are critical to the client’s operational and strategic objectives.

Break Down The Activities Into Specific Tasks (Steps) & Capabilities. Be specific about the skills and competencies required to fulfill these distinct tasks so that the correct learning pathways are identified where upskilling/reskilling is needed.

Document and Implement the Succession and Knowledge Transfer Plans. Define the procedures and training required for the key activities. Having a Knowledge Base for reference how-to manuals is invaluable and eliminates the guesswork.

9. Going Above and Beyond

The simplest definition of going above and beyond is simply to exceed what is being asked of them. A world-class VA isn’t the type of worker who just does the bare necessities that the job calls for. He/she isn’t afraid of challenges or putting in some extra time or work necessary (or even when not necessary).

For example, a great VA, if given a task due Friday at 4pm, will have it done by 3pm and will always aim for the finished task/project to be 10% better than what the client was expecting.

How this manifests:

• Tasks are completed ahead of time and in a level of quality that shows a great deal of care – and even pride – in a job well done.

A spirit of generosity. Being a World-Class VA is also about the spirit and intention with which you render your work to your client and the concern you have for your fellow teammates as well. If your teammate asks for help or input, why not give them a hand?

10. Seeking Continuous Improvement

The Japanese have a term for the concept of ongoing, continuous improvement – Kaizen. The definition of kaizen comes from two Japanese words: ‘kai’ meaning ‘change’ and ‘zen’ meaning ‘good’. This philosophy was first introduced by Toyota back in the 1980s and has since been adopted by thousands of companies around the globe.

What this means for a great Virtual Assistant is the adoption of a personal philosophy that defies stagnation or being on ‘cruise control’. To a great VA, this satisfaction with the status quo would epitomise a boring, intellectually lazy, and complacent life with no intention towards progress.

How this manifests:

Initiative in taking on a new learning pathway. Enrolling in short courses as a consistent form of reviewing and updating what you know for your area of specialisation is vital to staying up to date and relevant.

Initiative in making improvements. Have you noticed a point of bureaucratic friction lately or found that there are gaps in information relay systems amongst your team members? These are great opportunities for introducing simplified but effective digital processes that keep everyone on the same page at all times.

Here’s a FREE infographic that you can keep:

Ready to take your business to the next level? Find out what our Virtual Assistants can do for you.

Go back to the blog

What to read next?

The essential content marketing toolbox

Top 10 cloud tools for managing remote teams

How post-COVID-19 work trends affect small businesses