25 Key Qualities of a Good Employee

communication is key in small business to boost employee recognition

What are the key qualities of a good employee? Really think about it. Because when you’re interviewing for the next top talent to join your company, the qualities they possess are crucial to watch out for. Understanding what these employee characteristics are and recognizing them in interviewees can truly benefit your recruitment process.

There are certain qualities of a good employee every recruiter looks for, such as organized, punctual, a team player, positive attitude and so on. But there are many more employee characteristics that a recruiter might not think of. That’s why we rounded up 25 key qualities of a good employee you should look out for.

The 25 key qualities of a good employee:

1. Team player.

Okay, yes we’re starting off with a “typical” employee characteristic but it’s an important one! Having an employee who can lead a team is one thing; however, when you are able to engage with all team members and collaborate as an equal, that’s something else. Companies who want continued success need a team player on hand, it’s one of the most important qualities of a good employee.

2. A good communicator.

Sticking with the team player theme, communicating well with others is an integral part of working with a team and helping others within the company. And it’s not just about communicating well with others, it’s knowing how to talk with the higher-ups and knowing when to sing your own praises. But the important thing, when they do toot their own horn, they don’t sound selfish when they do it.

3. Speak up at meetings.

Not only do you want a good communicator, you want someone who isn’t afraid to speak up. Even if an employee didn’t have much to contribute, just asking a great question or advocating for a fellow employee’s idea can go a long way to making a lasting impression.

4. They collaborate.

Do the employees you have, or want to hire, work well with others? How comfortable are they collaborating with a team? CareerBuilder says that 60% of hiring managers look for a team-oriented candidate during the application process. No company can succeed on the work an individual does, it’s all a team effort that drives the success. You want someone who has a history of collaborating, plus giving and receiving constructive feedback.team meeting

5. They dress for success.

It doesn’t matter if the dress code is business casual or suit and tie, when employees dress for the job they want, it shows. And it matters. They present themselves in a style that reflects responsibility, brains, and respect.

6. They have a “take charge” attitude.

Employee characteristics like this are huge. Why? When someone is faced with a tough challenge, a roadblock, or even low team morale, you don’t want someone who shrugs their shoulders and thinks there’s nothing they can do about it. You want someone who takes action. Otherwise nothing would ever get done.

7. They want leadership opportunities.

No one gets promoted just sitting around waiting for something to happen. You want an employee who offers to lead a project or be a mentor to new hires. When a leader is needed, they’re ready to get started.

8. They’re on time.


It’s not because clocking in on time is mandatory, but because it shows they’re serious and care about what they do. Or they’re one of the first people to show to a meeting, whatever the case, they’re usually first in line.

9. They think like a manager, not an employee.

Of our list of qualities of a good employee, this one is crucial. Consider this for a minute, employees just wait to be told what to do, whereas, a manager thinks about what needs to be done in a strategic manner. Employees do a good job on their own job but a manager wants the team to do well – that’s why they mentor employees or pitch in if needed. When you think like a manager, a promotion is likely on the horizon.

10. Think about results.

It’s not about the activities you finished, it’s about the results you got. Instead of saying a meeting went really well, say what you were able to accomplish. For instance, “I got a sale of $25,000 so we are 10% closer to meeting our KPIs this quarter.” Don’t just say that you got a sale.blackboard that says "success, go get it"

11. Don’t compare yourself to others.

Just like you shouldn’t compare yourself to those in the real world, don’t do it in the office either. Just because Tom got a raise after being in the company for a year doesn’t mean you should too. Look at your own accomplishments and what you can do to continue to better yourself.

12. Detail oriented.

Of course one of the qualities of a good employee is being detail oriented! Checking over a document or email or a customer win that just came in is important – after all, the devil is in the details. You want someone who can spot the little things because often those can cause the most headache (the wrong date in a contract, a customer’s name is misspelled, etc).

13. Follows trends.

Keeping an eye on what is happening in your industry is a great way to stay a step ahead of the competition. This way you can do some strategic planning or can appeal to new customers.

14. They listen to feedback.

Ahh, now this is important! An employee who doesn’t take feedback personally but seriously can make a huge impact on the bottom line. As they can turn that feedback into results.

15. They avoid gossip.

It is important to identify problems in the company, but don’t engage in conversation about it with other employees. It will only cause a negative atmosphere.

16. Know how to play the game.

Just because you avoid gossip doesn’t mean you avoid all “politics”. When you know who influences change, who agrees with the manager, and so on, you know how to play the political game in the office.

17. Want to learn.

You want someone to ask a lot of questions, to read up on the industry and the company, will attend conferences, etc. These employees are always working to sharpen their skills and are vital to the company.

18. Go to company events.

When you are throwing a company event, from something huge off-site or something small like breakfast in the kitchen, it is important to take note who shows up. These employees “play well with others.” You want someone who shows up and engages with their colleagues. And if an employee pitches an idea, they’re worth taking note of too.

19. They are comfortable with pressure.

You need an employee who is comfortable with pressure. As employees, you should go out of your way to get caught in an uncomfortable situation. The more you are exposed to it, the more immune you will be to pressure!

20. They ask for help.

It is NOT a sign of weakness to ask for help. It is a strength. You can’t get to where you want to be without some help along the way. As far as qualities of a good employee are concerned, this one really does show you an employee’s greatest strength – after all, it’s better to have someone ask for help than to do something the wrong way.

21. They’re adaptable.

When an employee is able to adapt to change, even the unexpected ones, they’re someone you want on your team. This is someone who is a problem solver and can just get on with it. They welcome change and are keen to get others on-board too.

22. They’re honest.

When an employee is direct and transparent, they contribute to an open company culture. Additionally, someone who is honest is a huge asset because they aren’t afraid to step on some toes and can look at the bigger picture. Their co-workers admire their honesty because they know they’ll get a genuine answer as they interact.

23. They’re optimistic.

An optimistic employee can offer new and fresh ideas, offers a new perspectives and can bring individuals together that have different options for a unified purpose. Someone with optimism can keep the team focused, even when road-bumps present themselves. You want someone who tackles complications with a positive mind because they can energize those around them and will help you cross the finish line.

24. They’re humble.

Sure, chatting about your successes can help motivate the team but when an employee shares their glory and also admits and accepts criticism, the company culture is better for it. This isn’t like the “Wolf of Wallstreet” where bragging and being loud works, instead it’s best to have an employee who shares his or her success with the team. This leads to comradery and fosters an open culture.

25. Are tech-savvy.

When an employee understands the ever-changing technology closely related to your business and competition, that’s a huge bonus. Not only can they offer you with a fresh perspective but they can easily teach those around them so you don’t have to waste time and money brining in an outside source.

As you’re searching for the best fit for your company, we hope you comb through this list and are able to find someone who doesn’t just fit like a glove but someone who challenges the bottom line for the better. Happy hunting!

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