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5 Ways to be an Outstanding Employee

May 2, 2012

If your organisation is threatening to announce more job cuts, you might like to consider what it takes to go beyond being a good employee to being an indispensible member of the team.

outstanding employee

Mr Carson, Downton Abbey’s indispensible butler, with Lord Grantham

Let’s assume you are already reliable, dependable, proactive, diligent, teachable and trustworthy.  Here are five behaviours that will help you to stand out from the crowd:

  1. Ignore job descriptions. Be adaptable and ready to muck in where required and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done.  Remarkable employees have the initiative to know when there’s a problem and the energy to lend a hand without being asked — even if it’s not their job.  Without assuming a senior role they think at a higher level than their job requires, anticipating the challenges their line manager is facing and smoothing the way.
  2. Don’t conform.  The best employees are often a little different: eccentric, quirky and sometimes irreverent, but in a good way. They shake things up, make work more fun, they aren’t afraid to stretch boundaries and challenge the status quo, so they often come up with or identify the best ideas.  Truly remarkable employees know when to play and when to be serious; when to be outspoken and when to yield; when to challenge and when to back off.  It’s a tough balance to strike, only those who are really outstanding can walk this fine line.
  3. Publicly praise and privately complain.  Praise from a boss means a lot. Praise from a respected peer means more.  Outstanding team members look for opportunities to publicly recognise the contributions of others, in settings where the impact of their words is most valued.  Mediocre employees may attempt to elevate their status by bringing up controversial subjects in a group setting, whereas outstanding employees think ahead and raise the sensitive issue privately.
  4. Fiddle and be curious. Some people are never satisfied.  They are always seeking out ways to improve the outcome, tighten a timeline or adjust a process.  Outstanding employees will willingly deviate from established processes if they believe they can find ways to make those processes even better.  They will ask the questions that others dare not raise.  They believe in better and refuse to accept adequate.
  5. Value your values.  Too many employees leave their personal beliefs at the factory gate.  Outstanding employees choose to work for organisations that reflect their principles and even under commercial pressure they resist compromise.  In turn they positively influence their organisation from within to act responsibly.

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