Editorial by Jim Fairfax
We’re naturally focused on helping our clients hire employees who fit the needs of the moment and will hopefully contribute for a long time. When considering why some employees “fit in” better than others, contribute more than others and stay longer, the following article by Christina Bruce on Workopolis draws us to less than obvious qualities that can explain why some employees become “amazing” while others, maybe with the same skill set, simply don’t rise above “average”.
These qualities are harder to recognize during the hiring process and more likely to surface on the job, further justifying your hiring decision and validating that “gut instinct” that motivated the hire on one candidate over others. Certainly, you’ll come to value these “underrated qualities” and note them in performance appraisals. Enjoy the article.
Christina Bruce |May 1, 2013
What makes a truly amazing employee?
Are you looking for someone with a positive attitude? Who’s a team player? With great time-management skills? Of course—aren’t we all? There are generic soft skills that any high-quality professional candidate should have. But what makes someone stand out above the crowd?
It’s great to find someone that works hard and produces the results you are looking for. But there are also some less commonly sought skills or character traits that make a big difference to an employee’s success.
Here are six underrated qualities that are signs you’ve got a spectacular employee on your hands.
1) Unexpected skills for the job title. I’m a writer. So the expectations for my communication skills are pretty high. But that’s not necessarily the case for every position. A highly technical IT job, for example, wouldn’t set the bar so high. Truth be told, there are simply certain skill sets and personalities that are drawn to certain occupations. So there is something truly extraordinary about employees who stand out in areas that are not necessarily expected for their field or position. A writer who happens to be a numbers whiz. A web developer with a knack for communicating with clients. A customer service rep who also knows their way around Adobe programs. You get the idea. You’ll be amazed at how well these employees can work cross-functionally with different departments.
2) Diplomacy. Nobody gets along with everybody. We’re people, we’re different, and there is always going to be someone in a workplace who is less than our favorite. Finding an employee who can manage to get along with everybody—even if they don’t like them personally—is considerably undervalued, and surprisingly not that common. It shows just the kind of maturity and professionalism an employer would want.
3) They know when to take breaks. Think you want a workaholic on your team? Maybe not. Studies have consistently shown the value of taking breaks, and taking vacation time. One study that showed that every 10 hours of vacation time improved an employee’s performance ratings by 8%. Think of how many hours there are in a week and what that could mean. Have you ever had to actually coax one of your top performers to take a break? Amazingly, it happens. Truly stand-out employees know when they should take a break without you having to force it.
4) Proactive vs. reactive. A good employee can quickly fix a problem when it happens to occur. A fantastic employee aims to prevent the problems before they occur. Both may be effective, but one of them really stands out. Sometimes we’re blessed with that fantastic employee who can not only spot potential problems before they happen, but can suggest a way to prevent it. Be receptive and open to those proactive suggestions and you’ll soon see a payoff.
5) Independent working skills. Not to discount the value of someone who works well with a team, but sometimes you just need someone who can put their head down and get things done. It comes in handy to have a highly skilled employee that can just take the reins and produce results without too much instruction or supervision. Have you ever hired someone good enough to just let you relax and focus on your own job? Sure, it takes time to build that trust. But once you’ve got it, does it ever make life easier.
6) Aiming to do better. Some people just inherently want to do better. So they are always fiddling with things—streamlining a process, revising their work, or tweaking what they produce. And not because you ask them to, because that’s just how they are. There’s something to be said for a “good not great” mentality; for someone who is never completely satisfied. Be quick to notice and acknowledge this kind of behavior.