Five ways to be a great employee

Girl with balloons

What makes a great employee?  This is a question you should be asking yourself whether you are applying for a new role or just looking to get a promotion at work.  It is obviously important that you have the technical skills required for the job (or at least the ability to learn these skills given appropriate training) but what about the soft skills?  Many of my clients are increasingly looking at “cultural fit” when recruiting and this is largely determined by assessing candidates’ softer skills and attitude.

Here are five factors that employers may consider when they’re evaluating if you’re a great employee:

1. Self-motivated

An employee with a “can-do” attitude and who doesn’t need micro-managing will always be in the forefront of a manager’s mind when thinking about promotions. Do a daily “to do” list and where possible try to be pro-active with getting jobs done before being asked to do them. If you stumble across a problem, present it with a possible solution so that you can demonstrate you have given the matter some thought. Going above and beyond will always get you noticed.

2. Communication skills

Verbal and written communication skills are essential in business and if you want to progress onto more senior positions, generally verbal skills become even more important.  This includes being able to do small-talk at networking events, communicating sensitively with an unhappy client or poorly performing member of staff, chairing meetings and probably most importantly the ability to stand up and present to a room packed full of people. If the thought of this feels you with fear, then perhaps it is time to invest in your own personal development. Asking your manager whether you can attend a presentation skills course will demonstrate that you are self-motivated and keen to develop your professional skills.

3. Dependable

Being someone that people can rely on is great, but be careful not to become a victim of your own success.  The saying “If you want something done, give it to a busy person” is often true but there can come a time when, despite all the extra hours you put in, you can’t get everything done.  At the start of your career, it will be difficult for you to determine whether you have taken on too much and if you have more than one boss (as is often the case in practice) then you may easily find yourself in this situation.  If you find yourself working until late at night then it may be time to analyse why this is happening before your ‘dependable status’ gets tarnished.

4. Brand Ambassador

An employee who exudes enthusiasm for their employer is worth their weight in gold – put them in the right arena and their positivity could attract both future employees and potential clients.  If you are given the opportunity to represent your employer (For example – at a careers event or networking drinks) make sure that you are positive at all times about your employment there.  If you find yourself struggling with this, then you need to question why you are still working there. Similarly, at a job interview, never bad mouth your manager or existing/ former employer as (no matter how true it may be) your interviewer will always have doubts about your future brand loyalty to their company.

5. Think of others

Have you ever asked a work colleague to help you with something only to receive the reply “Sorry, I’m too busy”. Did it make you less inclined to help them in the future? A workforce of single-minded selfish employees is unlikely to be the most productive in the long run as such behaviours can promote a downwards spiral of negativity. Conversely if people are prepared to help others, even if there is no obvious direct benefit for themselves it can create a positive atmosphere where the benefit is actually greater than the sum of the parts. Taking the time to explain something to a more junior member of staff or pointing someone in the direction of a useful article or piece of research will reap dividends in the long run both from a personal and company perspective.

So if you’re wondering why others around you are being promoted and you are not, or if you’re being unsuccessful at job interviews, it may prove worthwhile to reflect on the above points and see if there are any areas for development.  You may surprise yourself!