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9 Traits That Make Great Employees Outstanding

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Jeff Haden for BNET, The CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the BNET newsletters, please click here.

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Everyone knows great employees are dependable, reliable, proactive, great team players, have strong work ethics… all the standard (yet often uncommon) qualities. So what traits take a great employee to the next level and make them a truly outstanding employee?

The extra 1%: The qualities that often go unnoticed (and unremarked in performance evaluations) yet make a major impact on performance.

Here is my list of qualities that make an already great employee outstanding:

[Actually, here are four of the nine. To read the complete article, please click here.]

1. A little bit “off.” The best employees are a little different: Quirky, sometimes irreverent, happy to be unusual… they seem slightly “off,” but in a really good way. Unusual personalities shake things up, make work more fun, and turn a vanilla group into a team with flavor and flair. People who aren’t afraid to be different stretch boundaries, challenge the status quo, and often come up with the best ideas. But for this to be a great quality, the people who are a little “off” also need to…

2. Know when to reel it in. A non-standard personality is a lot of fun until it isn’t. When times get tough, major challenges pop up, or situations become stressful, even the most eccentric should know when to set aside their desire to express their individuality and fit seamlessly into the team. Outstanding employees know when to play and when to be serious, when to be irreverent and when to conform, and when to challenge and when to back off. Tough balance to strike, but outstanding employees walk that fine line with ease.

3. Ignore job descriptions. The smaller the company the more important it is that employees think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done. When a key customer’s order is in danger of shipping late, outstanding employees know without being told there’s a problem — and jump in without being asked, even if it’s not “their job.”

4. Eager to prove others wrong. Self-motivation often springs from a desire to show that doubters are wrong. The kid without a college degree or the woman who was told she didn’t have leadership potential could have a burning desire to prove themselves. Education, intelligence, talent, skill — all are important, but drive is critical.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Jeff Haden

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about management as he worked his way up the printing business from forklift driver to manager of a 250-employee book plant. Everything else he knows, he has picked up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest CEOs he knows in business. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books, including four Business and Investing titles that reached #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list. He’d tell you which ones, but then he’d have to kill you. Visit his website at:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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