“What employers want”
How do you become one of those people that any company would love to have on board and would go to great lengths to get you? I asked employers from various industries about the employees they prize most in their organizations and here’s what they said.
Specifically, I asked what characteristics, values, skills and attitudes these stars have and how they’d recognize a top performer in an interview. No matter what industry or how small or large the company, their answers were consistent.
The stars, they said, have integrity–and it shows in everything they do. They are responsible, dedicated, disciplined and focused on meeting objectives. They are energetic, motivated, honest, handle pressure well and have a strong work and core values.
“I would thank the parents of my most valued employees because they were brought up with the right values,” says Brian Flynn, President of RLM Public Relations in New York.
These highly valued employees can see the big picture rather than just the world from their departmental perspective, adds Eric Nobis, managing director of Parker LePla in Seattle.
When it comes to attitudes, they are positive. “You can feel their energy and it makes you feel good,” says Paul Ray, Jr., CEO of Ray & Berndtson. They are flexible, resourceful and confident.
“They feel good about themselves and their contributions and are respectful of others’ contributions,” says Gail Jordon of StarDRIVE Solutions. They don’t feel above a task, “checking their egos at the door,” says Cynthia McKay, founder of Le Gourmet.
They are fun to be around and have a sense of humor. They react well to criticism. They don’t blame others and learn from mistakes. They don’t require constant direction, are patient and have a core belief in what the company does. “They have an understanding that no one is here merely for a paycheck–we’re on a mission,” says McKay.
Stars are driven to exceed expectations. They do things without being asked or watching the clock. They come in early and stay late when there’s work to be done and always look for better ways to do things.
They learn the culture and structure of the business. They are direct. “They tell me of their concerns before I hear them at the water cooler, says Jordon.
Above average performers also shine in their dealings with others, treating everyone with dignity and respect. They are always thoughtful of others–co-workers, managers and customers, making someone else’s life a little easier even when it means not getting something done on their agenda, says Ray. They pitch in during crunch times, says Joan Bosisio of Stern & Associates.
What skills have they honed? They are good oral and written communicators–especially in explaining ideas and strategy. They are good listeners, understanding concrete and abstract concepts. They are persuasive and inspiring, above average problem solvers and think strategically. “They perform in a way that allows me to lead rather than supervise,” adds Jordon. “They come to work on time, manage their time well and make the office an interesting work environment.”
How does an employer know a star when they meet one? “Their confidence and charisma are obvious from the moment they shake your hand,” says Ray. Their communication skills are excellent. Their track record shows they’ve led the pack and are always ahead of the game.
They are respectful and come in prepared, having “reviewed our website and understanding what we do,” says CEO Mike Brown of Cyber-NY Interactive. “They convey a sense that they want to be a part of the company in more ways than just getting their project done and going home at the end of the day,” says Bosisio.
One more thing: these characteristics, skills and behavior don’t just crop up once in a while. To become such a valued employee–one who can write your own career ticket–you do these things every day.