Global Leadership Blog

15 Qualities of the Perfect Employee

In today’s global business environment, hiring (and keeping) the perfect employee is one of the most challenging jobs a manager has. Often leaders focus on the skill sets needed to get a job done right and overlook necessary skills and personality traits critical to being a valued and productive team member. The consequences of a bad hire can be steep–personality clashes, project failures, and even firings.

While every employee has a unique mix of skills and personality traits, the perfect employee, or candidate will possess certain essential characteristics that every hiring manager should look for.

Candidates with these 15 qualities should definitely make your shortlist. Look for people who are:

1. Agile.

Employees should be flexible, nimble, and quick. They should be able to react and respond to changing needs and customer desires and to the moving parts in our global business world.

2. Friendly and open.

Employees need to be approachable, kind, and compassionate. They should be able to speak in a way that makes others feel they are cared about. Stephen Covey writes that highly effective people are those who care about others before themselves.

3. Internationally aware.

An Ernst and Young report says that one of the most important qualities employers are looking for today is a global mindset. This means being aware of and sensitive to other cultures, customs, events, and perspectives.

4. Energetic.

Sometimes projects require an employee to work late or extra early–particularly when collaborating across time zones. Dream employees have the stamina to do this. They eat right, exercise, and take care of themselves so that they can conserve and protect their energy and have more of it.

5. Adaptable.

Perfect employees can adjust to different cultures, personalities, and ways of doing things. For example, when collaborating with an introverted employee, they have the emotional intelligence to know that this person needs quiet time to think before speaking.

6. Able to make small talk.

This is especially important when working with other cultures. Dream employees know how to talk about safe topics like the weather, current events, or sports when engaging with those from other parts of the world. It’s a bonus if they can have these exchanges in the other person’s language.

7. Assertive.

Strong employees know how to mediate conflict. They know how to take the initiative, ask for what they need, and assert opinions and suggestions so that they are visible and productive. This is especially important when working on remote teams.

8. Curious.

The best employees want to know about different ways of doing things. They wonder how others are doing something; what other organizations are working on, and how teammates are doing in their lives or jobs–particularly when the teammates live elsewhere in the world. Being curious is an essential trait for gaining knowledge and showing people that you’re interested in them.

9. Flexible.

When working with different cultures and across time zones, the ability to flex one’s schedule, switch up systems, and abandon processes that may not be working is critical to success. Dream employees aren’t afraid of change. They’re open to learning new skills, software, and technology to keep pace with the rate of change today.

10. Time zone-aware.

Virtual, dispersed, or remote teams are becoming the norm. This means people need to accommodate different time zones. The general rule is that meetings should be uncomfortable for everyone sometimes. So don’t schedule a standing meeting that makes a team member always have to stay up late or wake up too early.

11. Direct.

Some cultures communicate in very indirect ways, so perfect team members know how to speak directly but without ruffling feathers. They know how to be clear in what they’re saying and what their expectations are while maintaining harmony within the relationship.

12. Eager and have a can-do attitude.

The best employees are ready to jump in with sleeves rolled up. They aren’t naysayers. They believe they can do anything even if it requires abandoning old ways of doing things. They see only solutions, not problems.

13. Diplomatic.

The right employees know how to mediate differing opinions or suggestions. They’re able to talk with people so that they do a lot of listening and have a lot of empathy and consideration of other perspectives. They ensure people are being heard.

14. Neat and take care of their appearance.

Perfect employees are aware of their appearance, hygiene, and the customs of different cultures. They know how to let different environments dictate their dress so that they aren’t over- or underdressed and everyone feels comfortable.

15. Competitive.

Competition can be a positive thing when employees are competitive with outside organizations. They want to outpace other businesses and are thinking about the organizations as a whole. Competition is negative only when employees are just out for themselves. The right employees also know that men and women approach competition differently, and how to walk that line.

So, as you’re building your ideal team, look for the perfect employee who has the skill sets the job requires. But remember to probe for candidates who also display one or all of the qualities I have described. In those people, you will find the perfect employees for the open positions in your organization.

Do you need help building a strong and capable team? Contact me.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo Credit: Stock Snap/Pixabay


Melissa Lamson

About The Author

Melissa Lamson, Founder and President of Lamson Consulting, is an author, consultant, and speaker who accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by developing global mindset, refining leadership skills, and bridging cross cultural communication. More About Melissa Lamson


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