What Makes a Great Employee?

Energetic, positive, bold, inspiring, and action-oriented. Wow! Great employee traits! Are they produced by the right environment? Or the right person? Let’s peek inside a workplace and see what we

Energetic, positive, bold, inspiring, and action-oriented. Wow! Great employee traits! Are they produced by the right environment? Or the right person? Let’s peek inside a workplace and see what we can learn.

Most businesses have pockets of engaged and committed employees here and there who do exceptional things to keep the business running.

How do people keep a great attitude and put out their best day after day in a business that doesn’t make it onto the “Best Places to Work” list? They simply choose to be a contributor. They know they can’t control everything about the workplace, but they can control their own choices about how far they’ll go to create more meaning for themselves and others when they come to work. So they choose to produce great results and help others do the same.

These remarkable employees have a simple formula. They don’t let things they can’t change become excuses that hold them back. They use business results as the basis for challenging bad decisions or practices and focus on where they can make a positive difference. The manager with the high performing team treats team members with respect, never bullying or belittling them. He’s upbeat and positive like the kind of person you would want coaching your child’s tee ball team. He helps his team know what needs to be done, and why. He gives them plenty of latitude to decide how to do the work and he celebrates their successes with them.

It’s not always easy. When he buys his team lunch or cold sodas as a nice “attaboy,” his boss gives him a hard time. He says, “My boss doesn’t get it.” Unlike his boss, he knows team members aren’t putting in extra effort because they want a free soda. They work hard for their own satisfaction and celebrate when they succeed. And the business gets a great payoff.

Research tells us these traits — energetic, positive, bold, inspiring, and action-oriented — can disappear from the right person working in a less-than-ideal environment. But it’s not just about being the right person or being in the right place. There’s a factor called choice that helps people engage and get better results even in a tough environment. So we don’t have to wait for the workplace to change. We can choose anytime to develop those great employee traits that help us contribute and do what we can to help others choose the same for themselves.

—Author of this article is Kevin Herring, a workforce performance turnaround expert, consultant, and speaker. More info: www.ascentmgt.com

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