8 Characteristics Your Key Employees Should Have


There comes a point in any business where downsizing and laying off employees just needs to be done. Whether it’s to purge incompetence, upgrade your organisation, shift the focus to other aspects of your business, or a last-ditch option to stay afloat, letting people go never gets easier.

No matter how hard the times, some employees are irreplaceable in terms of what they commit, do, and bring in for your company. They have qualities that make them valuable to your business. In fact, they have attributes that you should have been looking for in all of your employees in the first place!

Ask any business coach what you should look for in retaining key staff members and he/she will probably respond with one of these characteristics:

  1. Likeable

Personality is a crucial trait to look for when choosing employees. If people are going to work hard and spend half of their day in the office, they should be working with genuinely likeable people who can help cut down stress levels in a work environment. Ask yourself, are your employees going to enjoy working with this person? If you answered yes, you just might have found yourself a keeper.

  1. Dependable

Some may argue that having perfect attendance and consistent output don’t necessarily translate to job competence. That being said, reliable people are there when the company needs them. If your other employees can’t even meet the very basic requirement of starting work on time, how could you depend on them during crucial moments?

  1. Integrity

No matter how talented or hardworking an employee is, if you can’t trust them with anything, they don’t deserve a seat in your office. Integrity is about your employees’ honesty with their work, the resources they use, and their accountability when they make mistakes.

  1. Critical thinking

While it’s difficult to gauge critical thinking, you generally want to keep employees who ask a lot of relevant questions and give their opinions. People who are not afraid to speak their mind can help push your business into the uncharted. These people are not always ‘Yes’ men and women to your whims; instead, they are problem solvers who can help you by providing insights that you might have missed.


  1. Smart-working

While bona fide hard-working people are great assets, being hard-working is a trait that can easily be faked and difficult to evaluate. Smart-working people gets the job done properly and efficiently. They may not seem perpetually busy but they’re good at their work and have their own system of doing things. After all, it’s not always about how many overtime instances your employees clock in; some employees are just really efficient at their jobs.

  1. Ambitious

Employees with ambition are driven to reach their full potential, and then some. They are at their best when their motivations align with the goals/objectives of the company they are in. Ambitious employees understand that sacrifices and hard decisions must sometimes be made to achieve goals.

  1. Flexible

Some of the best employees know how to work alone or in a team. They can work unsupervised or under heavy supervision. Flexibility is about adapting to the situation at hand and making the best out of what you have. Adaptable employees are good at prioritising tasks and know how to react when unexpected factors or situations arise. They roll with the punches and know when to be results or process-oriented.

  1. Passionate

Passion is a driving force that propels employees through any obstacle. As long as there is genuine love and interest in what they do, no task is too daunting. If they are excited about their work and their skills line up with their interest, you have found the perfect employee. The great thing about passion is that it’s contagious. It helps in sparking teamwork and rejuvenating energy levels.

Who you work with can have a tremendous influence on your business. Choose the right people, reward them well and reap the rewards of an effective, dedicated team.

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