Most of us can quote the first part of the second sentence in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . .” We also know that when it comes to running a business, that not all people are created equal when it comes to the skills, drive, and character we’re looking for.
Some employees just show up. They (mostly) do what they’re asked to do, but little more. They don’t take initiative. They don’t improve things. They don’t seem to have a sense of responsibility beyond what’s right in front of them.
The majority of employees could probably be characterized as capable, conscientious, reliable, and steady. They’ll give you a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. They’re pleasant and courteous, but they’ll never set the business world on fire.
Then are those exceptional people who go the extra mile. These are the people you don’t have to ask to stay late. They do it because they feel a sense of responsibility. They take initiative. They’re respected and liked by other employees. They look for ways to make products or processes better.
It’s fairly obvious which kind of employee you want working for you if you’re looking to scale up your business and make an impact in your industry. But how can you recognize them before you hire them? Here are a few things to look for.
- Are They Moving Up? I’m not talking about people who are adding notches to their professional belts. I’m talking about people who have taken on additional responsibilities and have been rewarded for their initiatives. When you interview candidates, try to zero in on what actions and attitudes led to their advancement at a previous employer.
- How is Their Confidence vs. Arrogance Balance? You want players on your team who are confident and not afraid to take initiative or averse to risk. But it’s equally important that they have enough humility to recognize the valuable contributions of others. You need people who can work with others—not boss them around.
- Have They Actually Led a Major Initiative? Some people are simply lucky to be around others who take initiative and ride their coattails to the top. When you interview or review resumés look for evidence that your candidate actually took the lead on a significant project.
- Are They Still Learning? A key characteristic of a great employee is that he or she keeps on learning and improving. Ask candidates what they are reading and what kinds of personal/professional goals they have—and what they’re doing to reach those goals.
Are there other indicators you can look for when trying to hire the best people for your growing company? Of course! Here’s a helpful post about how to ensure you get the right people on your team But the character traits mentioned here will be a big help in identifying the kind of people you want on your team—people who get things done!