You either need one, or you’d like to be one. An exceptional employee, that is.
More often than not, great employees are the lifeblood of a great company. Loyal, happy customers are a given, of course, but even the most energetic entrepreneur can’t service them all alone, among other things. Having superb workers can free up your time considerably, allowing you to focus on growing your business further.
On the flipside, being an exceptional employee can take you places. Barring office politics and nightmare bosses, a consistently sterling performance often merits substantial compensation and consideration for plum jobs and roles, along with the respect and esteem of one’s peers.
But what makes a great employee? Skills are great, sure, but a great attitude is apparently more important. The former is, after all, easier to teach in most cases.
However, the word “attitude” is quite broad and encompasses a range of behaviors. Thus, what sort of traits generally set the rock stars apart from the rest of the workforce?
- Delayed gratification.
- Judicious courage.
- Constant improvement.
- A strong sense of initiative.
- A balanced ego.
- Strong leadership.
- Unwavering focus.
- Level-headed composure.
- Excellent conflict resolution skills.
Far too many people expect to be compensated and rewarded before they bring their A-game. Exceptional employees are the exact opposite.
Often, they don’t hesitate to go the extra mile, confident that they’ll get recognized at some point, though they’re not too concerned if they aren’t.
Standing up to your boss or your peers can be terrifying, hence the abundance of yes men and women in corporations. An exceptional employee, on the other hand, employs common sense and timing to do so when needed.
As a result, you’ll see them speaking up when others don’t, challenging an executive decision, and even venturing to ask a “stupid” question, but within the right context.
Exceptional employees are never satisfied. For them, there is always something to improve on. No matter how well things are going, they are constantly focused on growth and this translates into their overall performance.
Speaking of constant improvement, you will never hear a great employee say, “That’s not my job” or “It’s been that way forever.”
No, whether it’s a faulty desk drawer or an inefficient bottleneck in the billing process, they’re not likely to walk past it. Instead, they see each problem as something that needs to be solved, stat. And you can bet that they’ll actively participate in seeking a solution.
Owning up to your mistakes is a mark of maturity, and a stellar work ethic. Great employees exercise ownership over all aspects of their work, both the good and the bad. Furthermore, they will take responsibility if something goes wrong under their watch.
It’s good to have enough self-confidence to stand by your ideas and decisions. Plus, healthy egos can be a strong driving force behind a great performance at work.
On the other hand, exceptional employees are team players, and so, they don’t give their egos more weight than they should. For instance, they know when to admit that someone’s idea is better, or when to compromise in pursuit of team harmony.
Take note, this also applies to employees who aren’t necessarily in leadership positions. People respond to integrity, a sense of purpose, and the ability to take the lead, and they tend to have these in spades.
Abrasive customers, demanding superiors, and petty office drama are part and parcel of most working lives. They are, for the most part, background noise, and top performers can shut them out if necessary.
Thus, great employees can recognize a real problem in the workplace and zero in on what needs to be done, despite all else.
The best employees obviously don’t seek out conflicts, but they don’t run from them either. Apart from this, they’re able to keep their head in tense situations and can present their stand logically and calmly.
Lastly, they can brush aside personal attacks in pursuit of the greater goal and wouldn’t stoop down to such.
There is no shortage of toxic people in the world, let alone in the office. The best option would be to avoid them, but this isn’t always possible, especially if you work closely with them.
Rather than lock horns, exceptional employees identify the types of personalities they have to deal with and then come up with strategies to do exactly that. Best of all, they’re not likely to drag their bosses in to resolve any conflicts with such.
The job market is bound to get even more competitive as new industries and occupations emerge and push obsolete ones out. Now, very few skills are immune to technological or industrial upheavals, but a good attitude will always be in demand.
And the best part is, neither of the aforementioned are inborn traits. You can always choose to develop any of them, should you choose to.