Making sure the right people are in the right seats on your time is the most important role for any leader.
As the CEO of a startup that's constantly growing and changing — Likeable Local, and the Chairman of a more-mature-but-still-fast-growing agency, this continues to be a key priority of mine. To understand more about the perfect employee, I thought I'd ask members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) about their best employees.
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The YEC is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. I asked these CEO's and entrepreneurs what they believed was the one most important word to describe their perfect employee. Here is what they shared:
A motivated employee is likely to possess other qualities that make them the perfect employee. They will want to advance within the company so they will want to stand out. This means that are much more likely to communicate which is a key trait. They likely will be a good listener who will take direction and wants to learn. They are more likely to think about the consequences of their actions.
— Scott Kacmarski, President/Founder, Reps Direct
It's easy to find someone skilled, smart, talented and has a good resume, but a good attitude is gold. It's not easily found, and cannot be taught. For me, the perfect employee is someone who is really smart, but is also humble. They still follow rules, accept mistakes and respect others.
— Daisy Jing, Founder, Banish
A dedicated employee is one who takes ownership of their role and the company as a whole. They are committed to the mission of the company, and really lives the values that have been created by the culture of the team. There is no blaming or ego. Dedicated employees really look at the overall good of the company, and understand what is best for everyone.
— Tom Alexander, Founder and CEO, PK4 Media
I think consistency is underrated in the modern business world. There's a premium that's put on intangibles like creativity or ingenuity, but there's a need for someone who shows up every day and really grinds it out. While you need people who are constantly pushing the envelope and churning out new ideas, innovation is backed by hard work — elbow grease shouldn't be a phrase from a bygone era!
— Bryce Welker, Founder & CEO, Crush Empire
Perfect employees are responsible for themselves and others. They ask for help when they need it, are dependable and reliable, will not need to be micromanaged, will inspire others to achieve excellence. They know they are the makers of their own success themselves, are introspective, and know that change for the better starts within.
— Radomir Basta, CEO, Four Dots
Talent only gets you so far. Being dependable means you complete tasks given on-time and on-budget, and can solve issues that will arise during a project.
— Peter Boyd, General Guru (aka President), PaperStreet Web Design
I have found that the most powerful predictor of employee performance is the ability to self-manage. Self-management exists when the employee sets her own goals and has high personal standards for performance. Self-management doesn't mean the employee doesn't adhere to company goals; quite the opposite — the employee uses company goals as a guideline and tends to go above and beyond.
— Kristopher Jones, Founder, LSEO.com
Entrepreneurs and startups require integrity. Integrity is founded on honesty, accountability and delivery. It takes mistakes to get to a point of perfection, so progress and commitment to the business is paramount, which requires honesty and accountability. Being accountable for a mistake and not placing blame is the delivery.
— Matthew Capala, Founder, Search Decoder
I look for employees who are completely committed to their jobs, team members and customers. The best employees are strongly motivated to advance their own careers, but at the same time really care about the people they're working with and the customers they serve. This takes a genuine interest in the business and even the day-to-day details, which are sometimes monotonous.
— Kalin Kassabov, Founder, CEO, ProTexting
I am a firm believer that you can always train for skill, but not for talent and passion. When I am looking to bring on a new team member, I look for someone who is going to bring energy and passion to their role above all else. Without that, especially in a startup environment, the technical skills mean little.
— Suneera Madhani, Co-Founder and CEO, Fattmerchant
I consider those who are 'lateral thinking' and can develop creative solutions to bolster our current business initiatives to be the absolute perfect employee. This is because someone who is inherently innovative, and can be counted on for delivery of creative solutions when needed is invaluable for any type of company and its potential of future success.
— Luigi Wewege, CEO, Vivier & Co
An optimistic employee looks for creative solutions before introducing an issue to the team. They approach each day as if it's an opportunity to do something extraordinary rather than nine hours spent behind a desk and monitor. They help drive the business forward through actions small and large.
— Thomas Doochin, CEO, Daymaker
Employees who are hungry for knowledge should have no problem taking on a task and running with it. This type of mindset is extremely important within a small business. Resources around training are scarce, so employees must be driven enough to solve problems on their own.
— Robert Lee, CEO of Circa Interactive, Circa Interactive Inc
There are a lot of great, motivated and talented employees out there. The ones who share your vision and are loyal to you and that vision are few and far between. People want to build their own dream and their loyalty is sometimes swayed by attractive offers at other companies. Let them in on building your dream with you, develop them as people and professionals, and loyalty will come with it.
— Tony Poston, Founder and CEO, College Hill Custom Threads
You can train an employee to learn your business, but character stems from experiences. I sleep well at night knowing I can trust my employees to do the right thing, treat the customer well and be a righteous ambassador to our business. A character-driven employee does not need supervision to make decisions because they will act in the best interest of our business and customers.
— Robert De Los Santos, CEO, Sky High Party Rentals
Building a team of achievers is one sure-fire way to really get things done. Being smart and skilled is one thing, but a team member who can successfully plan and execute tasks to a high standard is extremely important. Having go-getters on your team helps to accelerate growth, fuels ideas and keeps things moving.
— Greg Mercer, Founder/CEO, Jungle Scout
These days, everybody is smart and talented. The problem is that in business, we have all become incredibly scared of failure. I love employees who take risks, albeit calculated, and then take responsibility for the ensuing success or failure. It is categorically impossible to succeed without failure, and the employees who are persistent are the real superstars.
— Ryan Bradley, Partner, Koester & Bradley, LLP
Dave Kerpen is the CEO of Likeable Local, the Chairman of Likeable Media, and the NY Times bestselling author of four books, including the recent The Art of People: 11 Simple People Skills That Will Get You Everything You Want.
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