If there is ever an ‘Employee of the Century’ award, what will it take for one to earn it?
First we should ask what qualities do employers look out for in an employee? Is it all about being dependable and reliable, as well as having high standards of integrity? Granted, these attributes of an employee are all critical to the well-being of an organization and are thus highly sought after.
However, such traits, along with being disciplined, proactive, punctual, passionate about work, etc which characterizes a good employee are not new to us.
Can we go further to determine what separates the really outstanding employees from the faceless crowd of good employees? Perhaps we can.
I was reading through a couple of articles on what makes employees remarkable and came across a few points that might help to distinguish the best of the best. So what are these ‘elite’ employees like?
Here they are:
1) Dare to be the Dissenting Voice
If you think that the best employees out there are those who comply with every rule, think again. The organization or the boss may not make the right decisions from time to time, and this is when an employee who dares to challenge the norm and question authority becomes an asset.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that being a maverick or a rebel ALL the time would make you the perfect employee. More likely than not, you will be branded as a troublemaker!
An employee who knows when to pledge his or her fullest support to the team and when to voice out objections for the greater good of the organization will eventually earn everyone’s respect and trust.
When you speak up against something, be it against a decision made or existing practices that you find flawed, you’ll either be the nail that sticks out and gets pounded, or the squeaky wheel that gets the oil. The fact is that people generally resist change because it brings a whole load of uncertainty.
"Will it work?" and "How will it affect me?" are two common questions that will run through their mind. The key then is to make sure you provide the assurance by addressing the concerns of the stakeholders after challenging their perspective.
2) Don’t point fingers at others
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem; there’s no middle ground. Keep in mind that even if the employee decides to stay out of an issue that concerns him or her, by adopting a nonchalant attitude, the employee is still contributing to the problem by letting it hang there. At worst, the problem can escalate.
When we are quick to find who’s at fault and blame others, aren’t we wasting precious time that could have been used to resolve the issue? That said, it’s natural for employees to do that in order to ‘cover their asses’. If you really want to be that outstanding employee for the organization, don’t fall into this trap.
Check Out: 8 (Legit) Ways To Impress Your Boss
First, seek solutions to fix the problem or at least mitigate the situation. After everything is running smoothly once again, you can begin your quest to hunt down the one responsible for everything.
However, just keep in mind that people make mistakes from time to time so don’t be too quick to blame.
3) Go the Extra Mile
You see, the best employees out there in the market are people who do not see their job as just a job. They believe in what they do and are always motivated to change things for the better. What this translates to is the willingness to go the extra mile.
This can take many forms: taking initiatives, doing more than what they are required to, staying beyond official working hours, volunteering, etc.
However, one subtle sign of a dedicated employee is that he or she may not be inclined to follow the rules and regulations in a rigid manner. The employee may bend the rules from time to time not because they are rebellious or didn’t believe in them, but more because the employee is able to see from the point of view of the organization in terms of its vision and goals to make the critical judgment on whether abiding or breaking the rule would benefit them more.
You might ask, how is that going the extra mile?
Well, instead of simply following the established rules blindly to avoid reprimand and punishment, the employee is willing to risk landing in hot soup for the sake of the organization’s long-term goal. Isn’t that something that no ordinary employee would dare try? Isn’t this going beyond the distance employees are supposed to go?
Recommended Reading: 5 Characteristics Of A Positive Work Environment
4) Lead Others
Leaders are the agents of change in any organization since they are the ones who make major decisions and spur the rest to work towards organizational goals. Therefore, employees who exhibit leadership qualities are highly valued.
This is why organizations often identify potential leaders among the masses and offer leadership training or seminars to groom them for leadership roles. In essence, these employees are the future of the organization.
It doesn’t matter whether your official position requires you to lead or manage a group of people; there will be plenty of circumstances arising that will offer you that chance to emerge as a leader. For instance, speaking up for your peers when they are afraid to do so (similar to #1) is a sign of courage that will set you apart from the rest.
Furthermore, when you speak on behalf of others and take the risk of being singled out, people will gain their respect towards you as a leader.
Also Read: Manager Or Leader: Which Are You?
Employees who sustain a positive work attitude and set a good example for the rest to follow are role models. So you can see that good employee doesn’t necessarily exhibit leadership skills only when something bad occurs; they can conduct themselves in such manner with every little thing they do at work on a day-to-day basis.
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, getting others to see you as a leader takes time and consistent effort.
5) Have Excellent People Skills
Regardless of whether the organization deals in PR or not, it’s hard to find an organization that doesn’t value people skills. Even if the employee is working at the backend and has minimal contact with clients or other organizations, chances are that he or she will still need to interact at some level to do the job well.
This includes the relationships between the employee and the boss, as well as colleagues. From time to time, the employee will need support or assistance in some form. This is when people skills come into play.
What exactly makes people skills so crucial? For one, it determines how well you communicate with others. If you do not have the capacity to see from another person’s point of view, how are you going to understand his or her needs and communicate your ideas? Working in an organization requires a substantial amount of teamwork.
If you can communicate well with your teammates or even have the ability to influence them, there’s no telling how far your team can go.
In #4, I mentioned about how organizations recognize leadership talents to prepare them for leadership roles in the future. The point I’m making here is that an outstanding employee is not someone who will be fixed at one position forever; he or she will be expected to assume different and greater roles in the times to come.
Having people skills is essential across so many positions (e.g. ALL managerial roles) that having this interpersonal skill perfected will make the employee so much more valuable.