How do you define a valuable employee? Is it experience or maybe work ethic? Do you see competence in a specific area as the be-all and end-all of determining employee value?
What about soft skills? Do they hold the same value when interviewing for a rock star engineer or strategist position? Well, they should.
While technical skills and other hard skills defined in the job description matter, it’s an employee’s people skills and a whole host of other personal attributes that are crucial for long-term success.
Most companies undervalue soft skills or the impact people development will have on an organization. They assume the hard stuff holds more weight and makes the business go around. In turn, when difficult personalities and egos emerge, when sudden change and uncertainty takes place, and when conflict seems inevitable, it’s the employees with the natural ability to communicate and respond to crisis who hold the most value.
When crafting the people elements for fostering a great company culture, here are eight employees you’ll want to consider hiring:
1. People who are active listeners.
Effective communication isn’t just about talking; it is also the ability to listen and understand what’s happening on the other side of the fence. The best people-centered employees will listen and reflect back what they hear to clarify (“What I hear you saying is …”), and they’ll ask questions to probe the other person’s feelings or opinions. This can be as simple as: “Tell me how you feel about this.”
2. People with emotional intelligence (EQ).
While IQ still remains the best predictor of job success, once you land a job and start thinking about increasing your role, managing multiple priorities, getting promoted, leading others, and navigating political landscapes, IQ will be begging for EQ to show up. Daniel Goleman, the foremost authority on emotional intelligence, has put together these nine important questions to help a person evaluate his or her emotional intelligence.
3. People with a high degree of patience.
People with patience have the capacity to process a situation about to go south, get perspective, listen without judgment to someone they disagree with, and hold back from reacting head on. Practicing this rare business virtue may mean deciding to sit on your decision. By thinking over things with a rational and level head, you’ll eventually arrive at a more sane conclusion. These are the people you want to build a company culture around.
4. People who avoid drama.
Employees with emotional intelligence have a clear advantage: they cut through the drama by telling the facts as they see them and how it affects them. Let me unpack that further: These people are able to diffuse an emotionally-charged moment with a calm demeanor, explain the outcome they’re hoping for, and ask for other ideas for solutions with an open mind. By hiring people with the ability to manage conflict, you’ll see more constructive, productive, and respectful discussions taking place, which can help resolve hairy situations to everyone’s satisfaction.
5. People who can manage their emotions.
Self-control (or “self-management”) is a personal competence developed in every person. The question behind self-control is: Can I manage my emotions and behavior to a positive outcome? Not everyone can. Daniel Goleman says this about people with self-control:
“Reasonable people–the ones who maintain control over their emotions–are the people who can sustain safe, fair environments. In these settings, drama is very low and productivity is very high. Top performers flock to these organizations and are not apt to leave them.”
6. People who reject the idea of multitasking.
Productive people are successful in managing their time because they avoid juggling many things. Research says multitasking is a myth and can be damaging to our brains. You end up splitting your focus over many tasks, losing focus, lowering the quality of your work and taking longer to hit your goals.
7. People who value and practice well-being during work hours.
Top employees are looking for companies that allow them to integrate work and life during their schedule, and the smartest bosses are giving them that flexibility because it makes business sense. One example is the workplace habit of taking short, frequent breaks. A 2016 study showed that hourly five-minute walking breaks (out in nature with a friend, for example) boosted energy levels, sharpened focus, and improved mood throughout the day. These “microbursts of activity” increase motivation and concentration and enhance creativity, according to researchers at Stanford University.
8. People who self-manage extremely well.
Forget time management –you want people who are good managers of “self.” By managing your life, tasks, and priorities efficiently, you can seamlessly transition to more productivity, higher work satisfaction, and better personal well-being. And that’s what the most valuable employees do to reach their most optimal level of self-management. For example:
- As noted earlier, they don’t multitask or juggle too many things.
- They start and end meetings on time, and don’t get sidetracked or allow the agenda to get hijacked.
- They set boundaries and say no to people when needed, so their time is protected.
- They identify the time of the day when they’re most productive and focus their energy on doing the most important things during those times.
- They’re aware of time-wasters such as visitors dropping by their workspace to gossip; they ensure they don’t spend time in useless meetings, distracting phone calls, and anything that else that disrupts their state of flow.
Your turn: What traits or behaviors have you seen the most valuable employees exhibiting?