Managing Partner at Red Rocket Ventures
Having good employees will make or break a company’s success. I have previously written about how best to read resumes and screen employee candidates, but that is before they are actually working for the company and you get a chance to see their “true colors” when they are not “on show” during the interview process.
This post is designed to help you identify the best traits that most successful employees share, so you can “double down” on those best employees and “weed out” the rest, as nothing can take down a company faster than a bunch of toxic employees that don’t beat to the company’s drum. The best employees have these “31 Flavors” blended into one.
The Basics for the Job
1. The Right Skillsets: Obviously, they have to have the basic knowledge and experience in how to do their job. You can’t put a square peg in a round hole.
2. Boths kinds of smart: The right combination of “book smarts” and “street smarts” should yield good business instincts to help manage the business.
3. Good Attitude and Passion: Someone that is passionate about their job will do much better than someone that is simply looking for a paycheck. And you want someone whose enthusiasm is infectious to others.
4. A Good Communicator: Clear communications is at the core of every company. You need someone that can clearly articulate their needs and listens well to others.
5. Detail Oriented and Organized: In most businesses, there are many moving pieces. Whether you are managing a project or working your sales leads, the better organized a person is, the better odds they won’t let any of the needed details slip through the cracks.
6. Confident But Knows Their Limits: Someone that feels confident in their own abilities is a lot better than someone that is unsure of themselves, provided they are not over-confident to the point of “driving right off the cliff.”
A Good Fit for the Company
7. Fits the Culture: Every business has unique drivers of the company culture. You want employees that embrace the company culture and works well with others.
8. A Team Player: As the old adage goes, there is no “I” in “TEAM”. Lone wolves that only listen to themselves and prefer to work alone won’t have a long life inside a company, where good team dynamics are critical and must thrive.
9. Hungry & Driven: I love employees that have something to prove, or are working for some grander cause outside of the office. Nothing beats a good “fire in the belly”.
10. Loyal & Dedicated: Good employees know to put the needs of the business, before the needs of themselves. They are loyal to the business in good times and in bad . . . especially the bad.
11. Can Neutralize Toxic Peers: Good employees do not engage with the “fire stoking” behaviors of toxic employees. And, better yet, they know how to neutralize them, not allowing them an open forum for public criticism.
12. Never Publicly Complains: If you have something on your mind that is bothering you, take it up with your manager. Don’t take it up in the next all-company meeting, bringing everyone else down with you.
A Good Fit for the Manager
13. Highly Dependable: When a good employee is given a task, you can trust they are actually going to get the job done, on time and on budget.
14. A Strong Work Ethic: Good employees are hard-workers at their core. They don’t mess around surfing the web while at work, or watching the clock, waiting for the hours to pass by.
15. Action-Oriented, Problem Solving Leader: The best employees are the ones that can identify problems within their domain, and actually fix them. They don’t need to ask for permission or ask for help to improve the business.
16. Takes Direction Well: Good employees respect the chain of command inside a company, and follows the direction of their managers, who are presumably more experienced in their departments.
17. Autonomous & Self Motivated: Good employees don’t need their hands held. They can work well on their own with limited supervision by their managers.
18. Focused: Good employees will stay focused on the goal at hand and are not easily distracted by the “flavors of the month”.
19. Accountable: Good employees take responsibility for their own actions, even when something goes wrong. It is not about trying to get an employee in trouble, it is more important how they learn from those mistakes and take the business forward.
20. Not Afraid to Speak Up: If something is on your mind, say it. The worst thing that can happen is if you bury hard feelings or strong desires deep down inside, where no one knows about them, and can solve for them.
A Good Fit as a Person
21. Likable Personality: Nobody wants to work with mean people or hermits. They want to be surrounded by nice people that are easy to work with.
22. Honest With Integrity: There is no room for dishonest people or criminal behavior in your business. Period! If you can’t trust your employees, they need to go.
23. Flexible & Adaptable: Most businesses, especially startups, are pivoting to take advantage of new market opportunities. Your employees need to be nimble in their thinking to be able to “go with the flow”.
24. Humble: Good employees never put themselves first or brag about their successes. There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness.
25. Optimistic: Always look for employees that can see the glass as “half full” and not “half empty”. Good employees see the opportunity to improve a situation and not harp on what they are missing, with a positive mental attitude.
26. Creative: Business solutions are not always easily identified. Employees that can creatively think “out of the box” are the ones that often have the biggest impact on moving a business forward in new directions.
A Good Fit Emotionally
27. Okay With Delayed Gratification: This generation has become too driven by immediate gratification, without actually putting the hard work in that is required to achieve that “pay day”. It is less about, “what can you do for me today”, and more about “what can you do for me next year” in building a long-term and meaningful pay day for all involved. Patience, young Jedi!!
28. Can Tolerate Conflict: Things don’t always go smoothly in business, and oftentimes, personalities can clash. Conflict can often be good, as it often means people are passionate about the issue. But, the best employees can easily endure and solve for conflicts inside the business.
29. Doesn’t Need Ego Stroked: Good employees do their jobs without the constant need for being complimented. Good managers will praise their employees for jobs well done, but don’t expect to have your ego stroked for every action you do. Good work is normally well rewarded in the long run.
30. Never Settles for the Status Quo: When things are going smoothly, it is really easy to sit back and do nothing, or simply keep running in place on the same “hamster wheel”. Good employees are always looking for improvements, tinkering and fiddling with the business with each iteration of their role.
31. Willing to Take Smart Bets: Yes, businesses need good “lead-off hitters” that are capable of getting on base with “singles”. But, sometimes, you need a good “clean-up hitter” to “swing for the fences”, taking calculated gambles with a high odds of paying off for the company.
Phew, what a list! Finding all “31 Flavors” in one person is the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack but the more of these traits your employees have, the better the company’s performance and morale will be. When necessary, you must prune the “bad apples” before they spoil the whole “bushel”. After writing this post, I suddenly have a hankering for some Baskin & Robbins ice cream!