• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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What do the best employees have in common?


Indeed no one is indispensable. However, high performing employees are a must-have for every organisation at every point in its lifecycle! Every organisation needs those employees who don’t just stick to their job descriptions and do the minimum work required. Employees, who take ownership, understand the mind of the organisation and proactively work for the common good just make employers tick. They use their initiative rather than wait for their managers to hand them instructions, they are responsible and accountable for their actions whether right or wrong, and they lead by example. Generally, they just get it. These attributes are so rare that they cannot be bought even with certificates from Ivy League institutions. This is one reason why high performing employees are easy to spot, they always stand out!

How do you identify your best employees?

It is true that employees are different people from diverse backgrounds (family, education, religion, culture and even personal experience), and this invariably means that they come with their own peculiarities. However, unlike the rest of the pack, high performing employees consistently exhibit certain traits that stand them out and the qualities highlighted below should help you identify them:

Personal leadership: the ability to define a direction for your life, and to move in that direction with consistency and clarity. Personal leadership means “leading from the inside out.”Employees who “have it all together” in their personal lives will transfer that attitude to their work and help their organisation succeed. This means that such an employee would not only be mentally and physically organised, but this orderliness would reflect in how they handle their multiple/diverse personal affairs as well as the affairs of the organisation with which they work. Naturally, an uncluttered mind will focus better and ultimately, achieve greater results.

Ownership and accountability: the state or fact of owning something; an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. When high performing employees handle projects and assignments, the level of ownership taken is usually amazing. They drive themselves and others to achieve results, but hold themselves ultimately accountable for achieving success. They become industrious on projects, and even get creative. They give no room for excuses, and they never push the blame on others.

Passion: This is a strong and barely controllable emotion. High performing employees love what they do. You can feel it in the way they talk about their jobs, in the way they handle assignments, you can almost reach out and touch it. Their passion keeps them motivated and driven. It helps them to easily rise above challenges and confusions coming at them. It is the oil that keeps the fire burning within them.

Teachablility: able and willing to learn: capable of being taught. Nobody knows it all. But it is key to possess the ability to accept constructive criticism and have the willingness to learn from those who have been there, and or who know better. Rather than grumble or hold resentments against the giver of feedback, high potential employees receive feedback graciously and use it to better themselves. They are prepared to “learn at the feet of elders” so they carefully choose mentors, role models and coaches who can monitor their growth and help them get to their desired destination.

Learning and personal development: partaking in activities that improve awareness and identity, developing talents and potential, building human capital and facilitating employability, contributing to the realisation of dreams and aspirations. As they say, the room for improvement is the largest in the world. High potential employees are always looking for ways to learn and personally develop themselves, even to the benefit of the organisation. They don’t wait for the organisation’s yearly training schedule, but go out of their way to develop capabilities. They are versatile and continuously push themselves to be better.

Resilience: Resilience is the ability to find the inner strength to bounce back from a challenge or setback. One other quality that sets high potential employees apart is the ability to bounce back from being tossed to and fro, just like a rubber ball. As they say, “A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.” High potential employees are just like diamonds; they handle rough and tough situations with almost a stoic resolve and focusing only on the end result. They never give up.

Resourcefulness: the ability and creativity to cope with difficulties. High potential employees are able to get information quickly to deliver results even in areas where they lack knowledge or expertise. They combine their skills, knowledge, experience and personality to achieve desired goals, even where resources are scarce and there is little chance of success. Due to resourcefulness and other qualities already mentioned, high potential employees thrive everywhere. Stephen E. Ambroseis quoted to have said “When Hitler declared war on the United States, he was betting that German soldiers, raised up in the Hitler Youth, would always out fight American soldiers, brought up in the Boy Scouts. He lost that bet. The Boy Scouts had been taught how to figure their way out of their own problems.”

Beyond identifying your high potential employees, you must also create a plan on how to keep them with you, because your competitor can also recognise them and will most certainly want them! Read my article on Strategies for retaining your best employees to help you with nurturing and keeping your high potential employees fully engaged.

Bolaji Olagunju