By Sharine Sample

In every job you’ve had, you’ve probably noticed that some employees seem to stand above the rest. They are the people that everyone looks to, and they’re known as someone who “gets things done.” That person is not necessarily in a leadership role, but the organization just wouldn’t operate as well without them.

You are probably familiar with Dr. Stephen Covey’s classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The individuals that I just described are what I call highly effective employees. They demonstrate a strong work ethic and character. Regardless of their role, most likely they also possess redeeming leadership qualities, too.

Often, these highly effective employees go unrecognized because they make what they do seem so effortless. If you are in leadership in your organization, you know the importance of recognizing the employees who stand out so that you can show your appreciation and encourage others to follow their example.

In the spirit of Dr. Covey, here are seven habits of a highly effective employee:

  1. They prioritize time management. Highly effective employees make a plan and stick to it. These individuals understand that adhering to a schedule keeps them on task and helps to not waste other peoples’ time. This also shows reliability; these individuals show up and are present when they say they will be.
  2. They communicate clearly and concisely. Highly effective employees understand different communication styles and can communicate effectively with all audiences verbally, through email, on the phone and face-to-face. Their co-workers look to them to recap meetings and conversations, which they can do because they were actively listening. When these individuals speak, people listen.
  3. They show respect to all individuals. Whether it be their peers, supervisors, partners, or clients, these individuals treat everyone with equal respect. They understand that mutual respect builds stronger relationships. Tough situations and conversations in the workplace are inevitable. Highly effective employees can handle them with grace while always maintaining respect to all parties.
  4. They pay attention to deadlines. Work gets crazy sometimes. Highly effective employees plan around this so they can accomplish their tasks. As soon as they know that they aren’t going to meet a deadline, they clearly communicate with anyone affected – before the deadline is missed. This also strengthens workplace relationships because it shows that they are honest and respect the impact of their actions on others.
  5. They are genuine and authentic. Highly effective employees bring their best selves to the table. They focus on their responsibilities and don’t get sidetracked by office politics. When you talk with these individuals, you know their questions come from a place of genuine interest or concern about how best to support their colleagues.
  6. They stay positive. Highly effective employees don’t ignore areas of conflict, but they do approach them with a positive outlook by presenting solutions. They fully support the company’s mission and vision, focusing on improvement rather than unproductive criticism.
  7. They are accountable. I’ve saved the most important for last. Highly effective employees hold themselves accountable for their work and their actions. They know that they are not perfect, and they admit when they have made an error. They are open to others’ ideas rather than always insisting on getting their way. They welcome constructive criticism so that they can continually improve.

Now for the big question… Would you consider yourself to be one of these highly effective employees? Think about which of the traits listed above you demonstrate, and which are opportunities to improve.

As you’ve read through my list, you’ve probably thought of current or past co-workers who earned your respect. Ask yourself what qualities made them so effective, and how you can use them as role models. You will be a highly effective employee or leader in no time, if you aren’t one already!

Sharine Sample is the Regional Workforce Development Manager at Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina. Learn more about Goodwill’s employment services here. 

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