How to Spot an Exceptional Employee

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A recent international study asked more than 500 business leaders about what makes a great employee stand out. The researchers were interested in knowing what makes someone more successful than the next person at work. 

Interestingly, 78% of leaders said personality sets great employees apart more so than cultural fit or the employees’ skills.

Here is a condensed version of what you should look out for when looking to hire an exceptional employee…


10 “Emotional Intelligence” characteristics that set great employees apart:


1. Willing to delay gratification:

They never say “that is not in my job description”. They don’t feel intimidated or entitled; they know that if they continue working, they will be rewarded later, but are not concerned if the reward doesn’t happen right away. 

2. Can tolerate conflict:

They don’t look for conflict or avoid it either. They’re able to maintain posture while presenting their positions calmly and logically. They can stand in the face of personal attacks when there is a greater goal.

3. Focus:

They know the difference between background noise and real problems and stay focused on what is important.

4. Judiciously courageous:

They’re willing to speak up when others are not, whether it is to ask a “silly” question, a difficult one, or challenge an executive decision. They can balance  common sense and good timing.
They think before they speak and choose the right time and place to do it.

5. In control of their egos:

They have egos, but don’t let it stand in their way.
They’re willing to admit when they’re wrong and go with someone else’s way because it is better to maintain team harmony.

6. Never satisfied:

They know that things can always be better— they’re completely right!
No one is ever done when it comes to personal improvement. No matter how well things are going, exceptional employees know that they can and have to constantly be improving.

7. Recognise when things are broken and fix them:

They see problems as issues that should be fixed immediately.

8. Accountable:

They own their decisions, their work and the results that come from it whether they’re good or bad.
They bring their mistakes into the light instead of expecting that no one finds out about their misstep and understand that a manager’s job is to get things done and not assign blame.

9. Marketable:

Inside the organisation, this means they’re well liked by coworkers. They are seen as leaders (even if they’re not in an official leadership position) and people respond to them.
Outside of the organisation, this means they can represent the company and the brand and managers are happy for these employees to meet with clients without any worries.

10. Neutralise toxic people:

When they need to approach a toxic person, they approach the situation rationally. They are aware of their own emotions and don’t allow anger and frustration to take over the situation.
They can consider the difficult person’s standpoint and are able to find a common ground with them. and even when things get completely off the rails, people with high EQ can take the toxic person with a grain of salt and avoid him or her bringing them down.


This article initially appeared on Forbs

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