The very best employees possess three things: (1) They are competent – they know what they are doing, they have skills, experience, and know-how; (2) they are conscientious – they do high quality work, they take care to make sure that work is completed on time and on point; and, (3) they possess common sense – they get it. They know how to get things done, they know how to manage relationships, and they don’t make stupid mistakes.
Let’s look at each of these in detail:
1. Competence. Although experience matters, most of us assume that merely having work experience equals competence. But, this is not necessarily true. There are plenty of people who have the job titles, and have worked for highly-prized organizations, but they really don’t have the competence to get the job done.
It often takes time to assess real competence. That’s why when hiring, best practices include things like work sample tests or assessment centers that allow you to see a candidate actually perform.
2. Conscientiousness. The second critical characteristic involves attention to detail and ability to complete tasks fully, and on time. Although associated with personality, people can develop conscientious work habits.
The most conscientious people I have worked with, complete assignments on time, check their work for mistakes, and typically anticipate needs.
3. Common Sense. There is growing research that emphasizes the importance of social intelligence – understanding the intricacies of social relationships and organizational processes. Common sense includes seeing the big picture, figuring out the unspoken rules that are in operation in any department and organization. Common sense is required for success as a leader, and it makes you a very valuable (and respected) worker.
You can practice common sense by observing and listening – figuring out the rules and common practices in a workplace, and figuring out how to get along with others.
Work on developing these three things, and you will be successful.
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