Five Characteristics of Great Employees

No matter what you’re hiring for, be it an executive or a software developer, there are five characteristics that mark a certain kind of person. A particular sort of human being who is just more likely to be a better team member, help push the company where it’s going, make life better for everyone, be more fun to work with and possibly make better coffee than someone who doesn’t have these traits.

They are as follows:

Great employees are lifelong learners

Lifelong Learners: A lifelong learner may take classes just for fun, like Krav Maga or permaculture gardening. And they’re likely to stay current on the latest tools and trends in their industries and career areas. They’re not thrown off by new tools, new approaches, new strategies that the ever-evolving workplace brings. By nature, they tend to be curious, interested and open minded. So when you need them to learn to use a new mind mapping tool, they’ll be thrilled with the opportunity.

Adaptable: This goes along with being a lifelong learner. There are very few careers these days outside of “Gondolier” that don’t require ongoing change.  And they sometimes turn on a dime. A project crops up that needs tackling fast, while yesterday’s project is put on hold. One client signs on and another changes strategies. You need employees who transition well and don’t get overly stressed when that happens. In fact, more and more companies are adopting the Agile form of management where every single day the entire team meets for a few minutes to refocus and sometimes shift priorities and deadlines from what they were the day before. A person who isn’t ready to adapt is likely to create considerable drag on the team when you’re trying to move forward.

Able to Accept Responsibility: A person who handles responsibility well says:  “I goofed. I’m sorry. This is how I plan to fix it. This is how I intend to avoid this situation in the future.”  This person does not blame his or her errors on everyone else in the company, the boss, the underlings, the computer system, the interwebs or traffic. Well, sometimes traffic. They also know that, if the company they’re working for isn’t a good fit for them, they need to find another company. The people who just stay put and complain are morale killers for everyone around them. It’s often easy to spot these people based on their reactions to the question: “Why did you leave your last job?”

Problem Solver: When the rental company where you reserved equipment for the presentation accidentally rents your stuff to someone else, the problem solver doesn’t blow a gasket. This great employee immediately starts hunting for another rental company. These people not only look for ways to correct their own mistakes but find solutions to any problems that might crop up outside their purview, from communications logjams to refilling the toner in the copier. They contribute in meetings and don’t wait for someone else to propose solutions.

Attitude: These people are optimists. They’re not just looking for a paycheck, they’re excited about the company and about giving customers a good experience. They share the company’s vision and bring their own energy, ideas and enthusiasm to making it happen.

Finding great employees isn’t easy. But it’s a lot easier when you know to look for the stuff that really counts.



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