Both employees and employers have an idea of what attributes make a great employee. Employers are always hoping to find that individual who is so good that they seem irreplaceable, while employees aim to be the person their team can’t live without.
At a meeting of CEOs, Michael Gottlieb, founding partner of Momentum Law Group asked the group, “What attributes would you use to describe your all-time favorite employees?” While some of the attributes on the list may be surprising, in the end, all the CEOs agreed that those were the traits they found in their most valuable employees. Here are a few that made the list.
Leave the Drama at Home
The very top attribute was a lack of drama. These irreplaceable employees get their job done without complaining or gossiping. They don’t call attention to themselves by announcing how challenging their tasks are or that someone else didn’t complete their work.
An employee who doesn’t create drama will perform their job to the best of their ability, without bringing up their professional or personal challenges. They will put the work first and let the results speak for themselves.
They are less concerned with what everyone else on the team is doing and more concerned with performing at the top level. They aren’t overly bothered with perceived slights and don’t spend time holding grudges.
According to Jeff Lesher, Principal at SHIFT, “Drama is selfish. The more selfless, low drama approach, typically, is a symptom of high commitment.”
The less drama an employee brings, the more room there is for collaboration and results. That is the kind of person that everyone likes to work with.
If you are finding a lot of drama in your organization it could point to a gap in your hiring practices according to Kathy Albarado, CEO of HelisosHR. She says that if your screening and interview process is thorough enough, you should be able to weed out those who may cause drama and spot the right people for your team. Kathy encourages employers to look for individuals who have the courage to take risks, the character to follow through, and the confidence to take feedback.
The next item on the list was operational focus. Irreplaceable employees don’t just come up with ideas or point out problems. Instead, they focus on the best way to accomplish the task. These employees know that action is better than talk. They get things done and achieve results.
With an eye on the goal, these irreplaceable employees are always pushing their projects towards completion and staying on task. They are undeterred by distractions and problems that could cause them to lose focus. They take responsibility for their work and prove their commitment every day with their actions.
These individuals are dedicated to helping their clients achieve results as well, so they are great at building trust with the clients they work with. They don’t need to be reminded about deadlines or follow-through and keep the vision of what is important. Because of this, they become not only invaluable to their organization but also to the clients they serve.
Motivated and Confident
The next attributes on the list are confidence and internal motivation.
Irreplaceable employees don’t have to be told what to do. They know the goal and are self-motivated to continually move toward it. No matter what obstacle they face, nothing will stop them from meeting their goal.
These individuals are self-sufficient, but confident enough to ask for help when it is needed. They don’t make their pride more important than getting the job done the right way the first time.
Their greatest power is their ability to accept feedback. While some employees buckle under criticism, even when it is constructive, irreplaceable employees are confident enough to accept and internalize the feedback. They view constructive criticism as a chance to improve.
However, this power will be negated if the employee is in an environment where they are punished for taking risks or initiative. In this type of workplace, this individual will sit back until they are allowed to use their initiative – probably while looking for another job.
Attributes over Skills
Barry Glassman is the CEO of Glassman Wealth Services, which has been named “Best Place to Work” in the Washington DC area more than five years in a row.
When asked what attributes he most values in his employees, he named the following three:
- Solution-oriented mindset
- The ability to receive feedback and collaborate with others
You can see how these are similar in theme to those listed by the CEO round table that Michael Gottlieb led.
When a company or organization is a great place to work, it will naturally attract high-quality employees. If you feel like the people who work for you are not displaying many of these qualities, take a look at how your company rewards and mentors individuals and see if there is a way you can change the culture to create a place where irreplaceable employees want to work.
It’s also interesting to note that nobody listed educational background, certifications, or skills. While these are important for success, nobody said their all-time favorite employees had the best technical skills or ivy league degrees.
This is not to say that someone who an advanced degree or excellent technical skill won’t also have these attributes. However, it does indicate that it’s important to look beyond the resume and into the more intangible things a person could bring to your company.
Regardless of their background, the best employees get stuff done with passion. They are result-oriented, adaptable in the face of challenges, and willingly receive feedback, while working well with others.
If you want to keep these irreplaceable employees working for you, be sure you are valuing and rewarding them for demonstrating these skills and attributes. If you’re not you can bet that before long they’ll be looking for another employer who is anxiously waiting to make them part of their team.
Another Data Point
Most hiring decisions are made based on review of a resume and interviews. Yet. when team members don’t work out, how often is the root cause something overlooked in the resume? And, there are personality traits that you might not see in an interview – especially those performed virtually.
According to Paradigm Personality’s CEO, Lisa Dunbar, “The right assessment tools go beyond putting people into categories. They can bring to light personality traits that will give you insight into individual motivation, how those individuals might interact with others, and how best to lead those folks. It’s often the missing link for hiring and retention.”
Share Your Story
What attributes do you find in your favorite employees? What makes someone an irreplaceable employee in your organization?