Pick of the Litter: 10 Traits that Identify your Star Employees

Small white dog in gold star sunglasses

It is important for a business owner to work on their business versus in their business. To do this, you require team development so that you can delegate the areas of your job that are no longer vital to your role. Many entrepreneurs struggle to delegate. Not because they do not want to lessen their work load and focus on business growth, but because the company has become their baby so they need to trust that others will take care of it, nurture it and provide the same level of commitment as they have. The first step of transitioning to working on your business is to identify your star employees – the ones who will take on important roles within your company and help it grow. They are the leaders of tomorrow and they will help take your business to that next level. They may exist within your current team, so I am going to discuss some key factors to help you identify who they are.

They Believe in your Why
If you have not read Start with Why by Simon Sinek, I highly recommend you add it to your reading list. You can also watch his Ted Talk for a summary of this inspiring concept. Your team should believe in your why; the reason you started your business. But a star employee is the one who is inspired by it, communicates it and lives it. They want to be part of your movement and are motivated to help the business achieve great things in the name of your why.

They match your core values
Core values are the underlying beliefs of an individual or organization. I wrote another post on core values and their impact on your business and team. For many years of my business, the only team we let go were team that ultimately did not match our core values. Core values are the heart and soul of your business and they represent you. For example, I consider a positive attitude a necessity in today’s world, but also a requirement to work with my business. Negativity affects the entire team, so if we identify this in an employee, we know they are not a good fit within our business. Your star employees will embody all of your core values and consider them a critical part of the business and their own lives.

They look for solutions, not problems
This is a trait of a true leader! These are unique individuals that can not only identify a problem, but they also immediately look for solutions. They do not complain about what is, but rather begin to create what could be. They do not dwell on mistakes or challenges, but instead learn from them and quickly determine the best way to address the problem. They are invested in the business, are motivated to see it succeed and will dive right in to help it grow.

They pitch in
A star employee is always happy to help out. They do not wait to be directed, but will jump right in if they see a team member or client in need. They have exceptional work ethic and want to be kept busy. They are the first to start work on a new project and are typically always asking others if they need help. No job is below them and they make exceptional leaders as they work with team versus just telling others what to do.

They want everyone to succeed
A great leader understands that we accomplish far more as a team than we will as individuals. It is not about taking all of the credit and glory. They know that true success comes from a powerful team effort. They encourage everyone and celebrate each person’s successes. They are not threatened nor show envy towards fellow team members. A star employee does not get caught up in gossip and sees the strengths and value of each of their fellow team.

They demonstrate initiative
You will never find a star employee sitting around waiting for direction or a task. They want to be kept busy and will aim to find the most efficient and effective way to complete their work. If they require a skill or information for a task, they will seek it out on their own instead of waiting for it to come to them. They are the go-getters and their initiative stands out amongst the team.

They excel with communication
Too many problems and conflicts could be prevented with improved communication. This individual understands this and has exceptional communication with both team and clients. They ensure communication is open and effective so that everything runs smoothly. They are also great at communicating their concerns so that they may find solutions. They tend to thrive because they do not keep things bottled up and suppressed, so they can resolve concerns instead of building resentment towards the team and/or business.

They are well-liked
Even if they have to make tough and/or unpopular decisions, delegate unfavourable tasks to team, or even if they have conflict with a team member, they will remain well-liked by the team. This is because they are fair, want others to succeed and have excellent communication. They are positive and that attitude is infectious to the team. A great leader treats everyone with respect, so earns that respect back.

They can make, or stand behind, tough decisions
Every business is faced with difficult decisions. These are especially hard if you know they will not be well-received by the team but are necessary for the business.  It is during these times that your star employees will really shine. They will ask for clarification, express their concerns, but also communicate their support. An exceptional employee will express sympathy for you having to make this decision. If they do not agree, they can express this in a non-confrontational way, and present it to their team in a way that demonstrates full support for the decision.

They welcome coaching
Coaching could be positive feedback or constructive criticism. When a star employee receives positive feedback they are always gracious and modest about it. They appreciate the feedback, but it never goes to their head. And if they are provided with constructive criticism, they welcome it. They want to understand how they can do better and do not take this personally. These ones are hard to find, so if you have this, be sure to do what is needed to retain this team member. They will understand change and step up to any challenges as they are always looking to improve.

This is just a short list of traits that you should identify in your team when you are looking for tomorrow’s leaders. Do not wait until a burst of growth to start filling roles. Map out the future of your business, the roles that will develop and the requirements of these roles. Track your employees and watch for when they demonstrate leadership qualities. Observe them during times of stress or changes, how they interact with team, and gauge how they respond to new responsibilities and problems. Measure their performance in these areas and start to nurture their growth. These are your leaders that will take your business to greatness. Invest in them today for greater results tomorrow.

Do you have other traits you consider important for leadership roles on your team? What have your experiences been with promoting team into leadership roles? What challenges or successes have you seen? Please share in the comments below or email me at megan@dogmatraining.com!

Drop It: Lessons from Dogs on Stress Management

I love this and enjoy seeing this saying making continual rounds through social media. It is amusing, but I think it also offers some practical advice (although I don’t recommend actually peeing on things 😀 ). The lesson I take from this and our dogs is once something is resolved, or it creates negativity or unnecessary stress in your life, drop it!  This means removing it from your life and/or to stop worrying about it. This is much easier said than done, so I am going to discuss some ways to help with this.

I started learning about this concept when I first read The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama (it is listed on my GoodReads link and is one I highly recommend). I was going through some challenges while working at an animal shelter and was struggling with the poor choices they were making for the animals. It was an extremely hard time and was taking a toll on my overall well-being, so I began searching for some guidance. I was becoming more negative and emotionally drained and could not pull myself from this. It was impacting my life and I needed something to change me when I found this book. It was a life saver for me.

The whole book is wonderful and has many guiding principles, but let’s first discuss the section on self-created suffering and why this is so important and why we need to learn to ‘drop it’. “All too often we perpetuate our pain, keep it alive, by replaying our hurts over and over again in our minds, magnifying our injustices in the process.” “To a large extent, whether you suffer depends on how you respond to a given situation. …Although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation.” These are powerful concepts and had a tremendous impact on me. What was I doing that was creating my suffering and what could I do to help myself? I think too often we are trying to change external forces and ignore what we may be doing to create our own problems/suffering.

By not practicing drop it, we are holding onto negative thoughts which creates unnecessary stress and self suffering. However, this is something many of us have done for a majority of our lives so it is a hard habit to break. I started by just taking note of every time I felt negative or upset about something. Was it the result of something that was happening to me or was I creating this feeling on my own? For example, when seeing my neighbour who frustrated me I began to vent about her. This was creating a negative feeling for me and had absolutely no impact on her. It was a moment of self suffering on an issue that had passed and was no longer relevant. I needed to drop it. I had heard from someone about visualizing the act of dropping something. She would picture putting whatever it was in a suitcase, setting it down and removing it from her thoughts. I suggest having some way to acknowledge and visualize the act of dropping something as well, as it proves to also be a reminder for me to keep it out of my mind.

So how does this all apply to business? You do not have time to dwell on the past and you cannot afford to let negativity take over your life. You must learn to drop it. This is also a powerful way to lead by example and demonstrate positive mental thinking to your team. It also helps with conflict. If I need to address a concern and it is taken care of, we don’t talk about it again (unless we are referring to the lesson gained from it). By dropping it, I show my team that we are moving on and I recognize their effort to change.  We don’t dwell on the negative past, but rather focus on the positive present.

There are so many lessons to learn from our dogs, and living in the moment is one of them. They are not sitting and stressing about the past, worrying about the future or focusing on negativity. If it doesn’t matter to them, or if it doesn’t affect them positively, they move on. Let’s learn to drop it so we can focus on the good and move forward with the right attitude and perspective to help our businesses and team succeed!

Do you have ways you help yourself to drop it? Are their certain emotions you attribute with self suffering? Share in the comments below!