There are many good employees in the workforce today, but an exemplary employee is worth their weight in gold, as the saying goes. Having worked for the government for many years, I’ve noticed on many occasions that those employees who rise to the level of being exemplary share several characteristics:
Dependability. When you say you can or will do something, then do it. When you are expected to be at work at a certain time, or at a specific location, be there. When employers and co-workers know you are dependable, it makes scheduling and workload distribution much easier.
Trustworthiness. A reputation of being honest and above reproach in all your dealings within a company will go a long way with any employer. When problems arise involving losses, questionable activities, or other difficult situations, it’s worth a lot to know you can be trusted.
Confidentiality. The employee who passes on confidential or sensitive information is a liability to every employer. There are just some things the public, competitors, and even co-workers have no right or need to know.
Manageability. There’s little that makes life more difficult for an employer than an employee who is difficult to supervise or always knows a better way to do things. There are no perfect bosses, but insubordination, rocking the boat, and passive-aggressive resistance to doing a job the way the boss wants it done will get an employee nowhere – and definitely will not be forgotten. An exemplary employee does the job as directed, is skilled at communicating the merits of doing things a better way, and knows whether it matters.
Teamwork. Employers usually don’t cherish Lone Rangers or employees who compete with co-workers out of greed. An exemplary employee is one who other workers want to work with and spend time with in the workplace.
Participation. If there’s a team or office or department meeting, be there. Everyone, including bosses, knows that meetings are generally the last place a worker wants to be. But the employee who is always there, participates appropriately, and is supportive of the process is going to be appreciated by even the worst of bosses.
Training and Education. Take advantage of every opportunity to attend training sessions, seminars, and workshops as they relate to your employment. An employer will notice the employee who is willing to increase their skills and bring what they learn back to the job.
Keep communication lines open. When a deadline approaches, keep team members and supervisors aware of any problems or possible glitches in meeting the deadline. If you have an upcoming appointment, let the boss know in advance. If something prevents you from being on time, pick up the phone and call.
Gossip. It’s so easy to do and sometimes difficult to avoid. Every boss knows who the gossips are, and it’s a reputation that’s virtually impossible to live down once you have it.
Careful with humor. Co-workers and bosses have a variety of personalities, come from different backgrounds, and are sometimes appropriately sensitive to humor that wouldn’t normally be offensive or hurtful. Knowing your “audience” and a keen sense of timing in this regard is worth the effort.
Upbeat. Moody, complaining, whining people are difficult to be around and more difficult to supervise. If you’re having a bad day, either keep to yourself or ‘fake it.’ Good morale can quickly turn downward when complainers and whiners enter the picture.
The people who keep a business or company going are what I call the worker bees. It isn’t easy to become an exemplary worker bee. But I can guarantee you will never regret making the effort.