The Definitive Guide to Business

The No. 1 trait that great employees share, according to self-made millionaire Marcus Lemonis

Marcus Lemonis shares the one trait he looks for in a high-performing employee
Marcus Lemonis shares the one trait he looks for in a high-performing employee

A lot of professionals think that doing well at work means outshining their coworkers and climbing the corporate ladder. But according to small business investor and turnaround king Marcus Lemonis, that couldn't be farther from the truth.

Top-performing employees, Lemonis says, share one specific trait: Rather than being focused solely on their own success, they are committed to helping their team succeed.

"Most people think [business] is a race where they have to win," says Lemonis, host of CNBC's "The Partner" and CEO of Camping World.

But actually, he says, more than individual achievement, "it's about the company winning."

Marcus Lemonis
Paul Morigi | CNBC

A recent survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities of 400 employers found that over 80 percent of midsize or large employers search for collaboration skills. Even just adding the word "teamwork" to your LinkedIn profile boosts your chances of getting hired, a report from the job search platform shows.

Employees who work well in teams do the following three things:

1) Communicate effectively and kindly with others

Good communication skills, both in person and over email, is extremely important in today's job market.

Julie Sweet, the CEO of a $16 billion business, says that one of the strongest indications of a great employee is the ability to write clear, short professional emails. She shares specific examples, such as avoiding typos and keeping messages around two paragraphs or less.

If you aren't a naturally great communicator, fear not. Billionaire and legendary investor Warren Buffett used to hate speaking in front of groups, so he enrolled in a class that taught him specific lessons on how to speak well, such as showing more energy and making eye contact.

Most people think business is a race where they have to win.
Marcus Lemonis
CEO of Camping World and host of CNBC's "The Profit."

2) Offer to help others to advance the team's success

"I like to see employees that are willing to help their coworkers their succeed," Lemonis says.

The CEO of Birchbox, a beauty company that spearheaded the subscription-box trend, looks for the same quality. She says that the best performers at work find a way to align their personal career goals with the company's.

Have your work convey that "your ultimate goal is the success of the entire entity, the success of the team," says CEO Katia Beauchamp.

"Show that your career is going to ride on that," she says.

Managers notice who stays in their silo, and who reaches out to others. If you have time to help a colleague, lend a hand. If you can team up with coworkers on a project to make the work easier for both of you, suggest it.

Millennial workers in EY’s San Jose office. EY’s U.S. workforce is now more than 66 percent millennial.
Source: EY

At the very least, you will come across as more friendly, which can help you get ahead. A study published by the American Psychological Association suggests that bosses prefer candidates who they find likable and friendly over those who are self-promotional (though they note that a combination of the two is probably best.)

3) Remain open minded about other people's views

At some point in your career, you'll encounter someone who doesn't agree with your approach or beliefs. Though difficult coworkers can be challenging, if you can find shared goals and complete assignments together, you'll be more respected.

"Nearly all employers agree that all college students should have experiences that teach them how to solve problems with people whose views are different from their own," LinkedIn's report on in-demand skills notes.

Research underscores the importance of social skills. A study published in the Review of Economics and Statistics suggests that workers with both book smarts and social skills earned more money than those who possess one or the other.

In fact, some argue that as more jobs become automated, professionals with stronger social skills will become more valuable.

"If you give of yourself to help somebody else succeed," says Lemonis, "there will be a moment where it comes back to you."

"It sounds corny," he adds. "But it's actually true."

CNBC'S "The Profit" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET

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