5 Skills and Qualities Every Great Employee Should Have

What makes an employee great? Are there commonalities amongst top-performing professionals, and if so, can these qualities be learned over time? 


The truth is that there are many qualities and skills that can help make an employee a strong performer and a reliable colleague. Hard work, determination, and passion are a few that are often cited as key contributors to success. 


But, what about skills and traits that people don’t often think about? In this blog, we’re going to break down 5 skills and qualities that every great employee should have to succeed!


Active Listening



When your boss is trying to give you instructions on an assignment, are you actually paying attention to what they’re saying? When your project team member asks your opinion on something, are you able to give a thoughtful reply?


If the answer to both these questions is “no”, you may need to work on honing your active listening skills.


Sure, you may be hearing someone or notice that they are trying to communicate a point or idea (through speech, body language, etc.), but are you actively listening and understanding the point being communicated?


In any business or organization, every employee should have the skill of active listening. This does not mean staring blankly at someone (or a phone or computer) while they speak to you to try and present the illusion you are indeed listening to them. This means actively engaging yourself and your mind in the conversation – asking questions, understanding and analyzing points, agreeing and disagreeing, etc.


In Japanese business culture, it is very common to nod your head constantly when talking to someone. Contrary to many western cultures, the nodding of one’s head in Japan does not indicate that you are actually agreeing with the point being made. Instead, nodding your head simply indicates to the person “yes, I hear what you’re saying and you have my attention”.


This is one of the ways the Japanese demonstrate active listening skills, and there are many other strategies (maintaining eye contact, remaining fixated on the conversation and avoiding distractions, asking questions, etc.) that you can implement in your personal and professional life to sharpen your active listening abilities.




Do you have that one friend or coworker who always seems to radiate positive energy and enthusiasm every time you see them? No matter the day or the situation, this person always remains spunky, upbeat, and eager to pass along their positive vibes to everyone around them.


Enthusiastic people make excellent employees, managers, and team members, not only for their attitude towards life in general, but their keenness to accept any assignment or task with an open mind and positive attitude.



The simple fact is that a large majority of people gravitate towards enthusiastic people, and the same goes in the workplace. Sometimes, it is a simple matter of checking your attitude – think to yourself:


“Am I happy with the way I express myself in the workplace?”


“Could I show more enthusiasm when I’m assigned a task or project team?”


“What might others think of my attitude and is this the impression that I want others to have of me?”


Enthusiasm is something that can take a lot of energy to perfect, so work on checking and improving your attitude a little bit at a time and you may notice some excellent results both inside and outside of the workplace!





In any workplace setting, it is very important to consider the impact that your words, actions, and decisions are having on other people. It is also important to think about the areas in which you are a strong performer, and the areas where your work is subpar and consider what the cause of this low performance may be. These all tie into self-awareness, which is the idea of seeing yourself from the point of view of others.


While revolving your life around what others think of you is not exactly what I’m getting at here, it is very important to have self-awareness and understand both explicit and implicit social cues, body language, emotions of others, etc.


Think about yourself having the ability to impact a lot of people around you. If you’re constantly a negative person, chances are some of this negativity could rub off on your coworkers, family members, and friends. People will then see you as having a negative attitude, and may choose to avoid you in certain workplace or social functions. Understanding how your actions and attitudes can influence other people, and taking active steps to correct certain areas of your life, performance, and mindset are the keys to developing strong self-awareness.




Any time you’re taking part in a meeting, webinar, presentation, or attending a performance review, you should absolutely have a notepad handy and take detailed notes. Even those with strong memories cannot remember everything that their boss talked about during their recent sales meeting, and so writing things down to jog your memory is absolutely a hallmark skill towards success. 



Note taking can extend far past meetings as well. Start taking time to write out a to-do list with all the things you need to complete for the day or week. As you complete things and cross off assignments, you will feel a great sense of productivity and accomplishment. 





Being able to work beyond your job description, and adapting to change and uncertainty is a key skill that can contribute to being a strong performer. As life often consists of cancelled events, teammates quitting, new assignments, and many other sudden changes, you will need to learn how to be flexible and not let these changes knock you too off track. 


Keeping yourself focused on goals, staying motivated, and being open to new assignments, new cultures, and offering your support to your colleagues are excellent ways to build your adaptability. As you continue to face changes in your life, build upon your experiences, and take on new challenges, you will find yourself growing all of these vital skills that can help you achieve success!


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