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What makes an outstanding employee?

What makes an outstanding employee?

As a person who has employed hundreds of people in my career, I am always amazed at how some people stand out from the crowd, while other's don't.

In today's work environment where work-life balance seems to take precedence, and the millennials and gen-y are looking for more than their predecessors who were mainly happy to be gainfully employed and on a career path that funded their lifestyle - it appears that fewer employees are seeking to be outstanding. They are looking for more than just to be an outstanding employee, but rather a career that is fulfilling, balanced and with the right perks to help them get the outcomes financially they are looking for in their lifetime.

Now, this is not a bad thing. As you get older, you realise that you only live once. This new way of thinking and the younger generation putting life first and career second, can only benefit generations to come.

Where the real problem lies in the blurred line between how to advance your career or how best to maintain your status quo in the workplace.

For those who are more ambitious and believe in what you do, where you want to go and how you are going to get there, being an outstanding employee for the brand that you work for may lead to all your dreams coming true - at least in the workplace.

Ways to be an outstanding employee:

  1. Ignore your job description: Too often people think that something is out of their job description, so they don't do it, afterall, it's "not your job". Big mistake. It's what's not in your job description that makes you stand out from the crowd. Working over and above what is required will ensure that your manager and company leaders notice you.
  2. Be solutions based: Never go to your manager with a problem, only with a solution. You have heard it all before, but unfortunately people in the workplace still don't seem to have learnt this one. 
  3. Be details orientated: If you are details orientated, you won't ever be accused of not using common sense. You would have crossed your "t's" and dotted your "i's" every single time.
  4. Have a team spirit: You may be good, but with a team all working towards the same goal, you will be better. Yesterday, I completed a performance appraisal with a graphic design employee who is quite and likes working by themself and one of the points of concern was her inability to work as part of a team and by improving this, she will develop leaps and bounds.
  5. Know when to reel it in: We all love a happy, go lucky employee who lifts the moods of the team through good humour or just an ability to have fun. When times are tough, major challenges often pop up, or situations become stressful, so being able to reel in your individuality and work as part of team is paramount.
  6. Complain in private: Never complain about anything to do with the workplace or people in your team in an open environment. 
  7. Listen: The best performers are those who listen and ask questions.
  8. Take responsibility and don't be afraid to show initiative: If you are working on a project, take responsibility for its outcomes and show initiative when something pops up that can be improved upon or changed to achieve a better result.
  9. Be self disciplined and have a strong work ethic: It's easy to check your facebook account during work hours, but by showing discipline and only doing work during the time you are in the office, you will find that your performance and ability to complete tasks without distraction will make you stand out. Showing a strong work ethic and delivering everything you promise to deliver on-time and within budget also goes well recognised.
  10. Show good communications skills: If you are not good at communicating then work at it, do a course or spend time speaking with people who are. Good communicators make exceptional leaders.

On top of these 10 points, other areas inate in an outstanding employee are loyalty, responsiveness, ability to praise others, motivation, discipline and ability to exceed expectations time and time again.

Climbing to the top of the organisation chart takes hard work and those of whom are not afraid to roll up their sleeves often fast track their way into the C-Suite.

Now go for it!

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comments ( 5 )
  • Shella
    12 Apr 2016

    You've got remarkable stuff right here.

  • Reinette Kirby
    Reinette Kirby
    05 May 2014

    I could not have said this better myself. As a casual supervisor I see the same mistakes being made over and over again, with the same excuses being made for 'forgotten' or unfinished jobs. I agree with all 10 steps, and an outstanding employee needs to have an aspect of all 10 of these steps or criteria as I view them.

  • Michael shikai
    Michael shikai
    30 Apr 2014

    I think I ONLY got 5 out of 10 points, YES!!!

  • Hannah Atkinson
    Hannah Atkinson
    28 Apr 2014

    I am a Design Graduate actively working to make the switch into my new career. The topics discussed in your blog are varied and of great relevance to me. I particularly like Mellissahs points of having a good team spirit and strong work ethic, as I take great pride in striving to achieving these.

  • Isabel van Maaren
    Isabel van Maaren
    22 Apr 2014

    I am a student currently preparing for a future career in marketing and your blog seems very helpful to me. I hope, when keeping your points in mind, I can one day become an outstanding employee as well!