Over the years we’ve all worked with great (and not so great) people on our project teams. Sometimes their greatness is obvious—but not always. In an economy where it’s critical that we create an environment where everyone on the team can maximize their contribution to success, maybe we need to start looking at the individuals on the team and see if there are some common denominators that make team members remarkable.
Earlier this week I stumbled upon an article written by Jeff Haden that might shed some light on how to spot greatness. “Forget good to great,” says Haden. Here’s what makes a great employee remarkable.”
I think we all have a pretty good idea about what makes a good team member. However, in addition to their technical skill set and work ethic, what makes someone remarkable? Haden identifies eight traits that remarkable people share:
- They ignore job descriptions: We’ve all worked with people who hide behind, “That’s not my job.” Remarkable people are able to think on their feet and jump into a situation to offer help, whether or not it’s part of their job description. I have come to recognize this quality in the people I enjoy working with the most.
- They’re eccentric: I’ve never thought about it this way, but I think Hayden’s right. Some of the most talented people I know are a little unusual (usually in a good way). “People who aren’t afraid to be different naturally stretch boundaries and challenge the status quo,” writes Haden, “and they often come up with the best ideas.”
- But they know when to dial it back: Even though I appreciate a little “weirdness”, the best employees recognize that when situations get stressful and it’s crunch-time, they need to seamlessly fit into the team. It’s a balancing act to be sure, but there are people who are able to do it—and they make great team members.
- They publicly praise: “Praise from a boss feels good. Praise from a peer feels awesome, especially when you look up to that person,” writes Haden. I couldn’t agree more. Great team members aren’t afraid to publicly recognize the contributions and successes of others on the team. They have a “team success is my success and my success is team success” point of view that builds a lot of camaraderie amongst the team.
- And they privately complain: Nobody likes to be publicly thrown under the bus. Sometimes more can be accomplished with a private conversation than a public flogging in front of the boss. I agree that problems need to be brought forward, but if they can be handled quietly, without making minor issues matters of public concern, I think that’s a good thing.
- They speak when others won’t: We all know people who will never speak up about the elephant in the room. Hayden argues, “Remarkable employees have an innate feel for the issues and concerns of those around them, and step up to ask questions or raise important issues when others hesitate.”
- They like to prove others wrong: It’s less about confrontation and more about proving the naysayers wrong. “The kid without a college degree or the woman who was told she didn’t have leadership potential often possess a burning desire to prove other people wrong,” says Haden. “Education, intelligence, talent, and skill are important, but drive is critical.” Sometimes those real performers aren’t the people we might expect.
- They’re always fiddling: I’ve known and worked with some pretty incredible people who are always trying to improve what they’re doing and make things better. They’re never satisfied with what’s happening right now.
As you look at your team, do you see any of these traits? If so, are you fostering an environment where they can contribute at a higher level. Doing so increases efficiencies, team performance and ultimately project success.