7 Attributes of Good Employees

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It takes all kinds of people to make an organization. An organization cannot be filled with good or bad employees alone. Those are ideal (or dystopian) situations. Instead, within an organization, you will find good employees, bad employees, mediocre employees, employees on the cusp of greatness, etc.

Sometimes, it is easy to distinguish between employees and categorize them. We can certainly distinguish a bad employee from the rest, just as it is easy to spot a rotting apple in a basketful of apples. But, this is not always the case. We all know of cases where good employees have been ignored, quite simply because their ‘goodness’ was not so overtly visible as someone else’s.

What sets a good employee apart from others? Is it an overt expression of goodness or is a consistent tendency to work behind the scenes? Neither of those factors actually. If we made judgments based on those two factors alone, we would have to deal with quite a few skewed judgments. What sets good employees apart from the others is valuable attributes.

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We bring you seven attributes of good employees that set them apart from the others. These attributes should help you easily distinguish between employees. Very often, it is not that we cannot recognize excellence when we see it. However, as managers or leaders, when we have a lot of things on our plate, there is a tendency to miss the forest for the trees.

Adaptability

Good employees can adapt. A chameleon-like ability to be the master of a situation is a very valuable attribute and not very common. It requires employees to think quickly on their feet and feel at ease in most circumstances. Employees who can transition seamlessly from one project to other, who are at home within large teams or all by themselves, are a valuable addition to any organization. They are easy to manage, quite simply because they are quite adept at managing themselves.

Confidence

On the surface level, confident means someone who is self-assured. However, as managers know (sometimes to their own detriment) that self-assured can mean two very different things in the workplace. One kind of self-assured is code for brash and presumptuous. The other is code for decisive and absolute. The second kind of confidence is the one that should be valued in the workplace. Confident employees are sure of themselves and often have the facts/data to back it up as well. And what is more, their confidence is not a fragile thing that needs to be coddled. When faced with evidence they were wrong or have made the wrong decision, they have no problem admitting their mistake and moving on.

Matter-of-fact

More than anything, in an organization, we need people who are matter-of-fact and are not afraid of expressing an opinion. With employees who freely and politely (this is important) voice opinions, you can be sure of the fact that they are giving a lot of thought to what is going on and are not just mindlessly taking part in something. These are the kind of employees who become even more valuable in times of a crisis because they will not hesitate to speak up or be frank if the situation calls for it.

Jack of All Trades

 …Master of None. I know, I know. That is how the saying goes. But the fact of the matter is, an employee who can do three things well as opposed to an employee who can do just one, is more valuable than the latter. An employee who is just at home dealing with customers as he is working behind the scenes will always be an asset, simply because, in a pinch, he can switch roles if need be. Nobody is asking for a multi-talented maven. But an employee who possesses a number of skills is definitely someone who is worth having in an organization.

Reliable and Responsible

You can count on reliable employees to turn up like clockwork, no matter come what may. And the day they are not present, you know that they must have fallen terribly sick or been stuck in an unavoidable circumstance. Reliable employees make an organization go round. You can count on them not to flub the little things and you can also count on them to take care of the bigger picture. In short, you can count on them and that is always a relief when you are a manager.

Trustworthy

Honesty. Integrity. However, you want to call it, since this attribute goes by many names. Trust is one of the hallmarks of a good working relationship. When you trust someone, you are actually placing a little bit of yourself in them, confident that they won’t let you slip through the cracks. Honest and trustworthy employees can inspire the others around them as well. You know that these employees are not going to be swayed by gimmicks or shiny promises, simply because they have a moral core strong enough to withstand many things, including bribery and falsehoods. 

Driven

To paraphrase another old saying: you can lead a horse to the pond, but you can’t make him drink. In the same way, you can give your employees all the opportunities and resources in the world and all those things will still be meaningless if your employees do not figure out how to use them. This is where driven employees come in. All driven employees need is access to resources or help. Within a short period of time, you can see the benefit of offering them resources. Driven employees do not expect to be spoonfed or handheld. They just want an opportunity to learn or shine. The rest, they will do by themselves. Driven employees are the backbone of an organization because they keep pushing to succeed. And when faced with problems, they have no problems looking for solutions or simply bulldozing through those problems through sheer hard work and effort.

These are just a fraction of the attributes that good employees possess. The more you manage and lead, the more attributes you will find, especially in relation to the type of work your organization does. And when you find good employees, recognize them!

[Also read: 5 Creative Employee Recognition Program Ideas]

Remember, it’s never too late to recognize someone unless they’ve already left for greener pastures, in which case, it is too late, so don’t make the same mistake again!


Engagedly has a social recognition module that allows you express thanks to colleagues, peers, managers, etc. To take a look at how the module works, you can request a demo!

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