I am often asked what I look out for in new talent. What makes an employee truly valuable? What makes a great employee different from an average employee? This is a question that we all have asked at one time or another throughout our careers.
While every role, company, and field requires different technical skills and qualifications, some attributes are essential regardless of where you work. These are five characteristics that make a truly exceptional employee.
These people aren’t there to do a job but to make a difference in the company. They are curious and see beyond the job descriptions of 100 words. They see their day-to-day work as an opportunity to advance the company’s vision.
They can see the connections and understand that every task, no matter how small, is a part of a larger collective push.
These employees are always available. They bring their whole self to work and believe in the ripple effect and impact of a job well done.
They are not only insatiable for their ability to problem-solve and learn new things, but they also have a passion for solving problems.
They are almost accustomed to looking for creative solutions to business problems. They ask themselves important questions to be proactive and prevent managers from intervening. This allows them to reduce feedback loops and drive companywide productivity.
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The second attribute is closely related to the first. In most cases, an employee’s curiosity will improve his or her ability to learn quickly. Although it sounds simple, being able to quickly learn new information is an essential skill. Growing at scale requires the ability to quickly absorb and process information.
I don’t consider the college degree of a potential employee to be too important. Although some positions require technical skills, I am more interested in how the individual handles uncertainty.
Is he or she able to excel in uncertain situations? Is he/she able to adapt in real-time when faced with an unfamiliar task? If there is one thing that the past year and a half have taught us, it is this: Organizations (and individuals) who can adapt to new situations, through learning are those that avoid crisis and win in the end.
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Any relationship that is successful, professional or personal, relies on feedback. While giving feedback is not always easy, it’s important to have difficult conversations, especially in business.
Feedback is mandatory and encouraged. Perfection is not possible, even among the most outstanding employees. The way they respond to feedback is what truly makes top performers stand out.
Is it possible for them to see constructive feedback as what it is? Sometimes it can be difficult to accept feedback. I know this personally. However, a standout employee uses feedback to show tangible improvement and growth.
He or she is acutely aware of their weaknesses and works tirelessly to turn them into strengths. These employees are motivated by setbacks, which ultimately makes them more resilient and stronger.
People who can work without any guidance or direction are highly valued at work. They can follow instructions and don’t need any guidance. Top performers can be autonomous but also thrive in groups. These rare individuals can work in groups and collaborate with others to share their ideas and make a difference.
They can work with both a team and alone, which gives them flexibility. They will thrive in a variety of roles within the company, including cross-functional ones.
You can give them many projects and depend on them like a CEO. As basic as it sounds, this is crucial. They are respected by their colleagues, trusted by managers, and the organization thrives because of that.
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This last attribute is perhaps the most important. This last attribute is perhaps the most important. This means nurturing and developing the talent under their leadership. This includes inspiring and motivating their peers, especially if they are junior or entry-level workers.
This component focuses more on an individual’s Emotional Intelligence. People who are exceptional employees can empathize and relate to their coworkers.
They view their coworkers as extended family members in many ways. Because they know that when one employee succeeds, it is a win-win situation for all. The truth is that standout employees are just human. This humanness is an asset, not a disadvantage.
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