woman looking out of a window
Great employees share certain characteristics, including the fact they like being known as Subject Matter Experts in their domain. PHOTO: Valter Cirillo

The most carefully crafted digital workplace will collapse under its own weight without the most important element: The right workforce.

But hiring talent is at best tedious and at worst a colossal waste of time, money and effort. So how can companies avoid mistakes? More specifically, what differentiates a top performer from other employees?

From the opposite perspective, how can a motivated employee fast track her career and gain the respect and recognition she deserves — without switching jobs?

Identifying Great Employees

A team at iQuanti, Inc. decided to find out the answers to those questions and more through a study that sought to identify the essential qualities of successful employees.

Based in Jersey City, N.J., iQuanti is a data-driven digital marketing company that works with Fortune 500 companies to help them hone in on the qualities that help their business.

"Every business has their all-stars and MVPs, the team members who are invaluable to the day-to-day and overall strategy of the company. This makes identifying them early on — even in the hiring process — that much more important," explained Aseem Agrawal, senior analyst for digital marketing at iQuanti.

To find what separates a great employee from a mediocre one, iQuanti interviewed a cross-section of its own employees. It asked them questions like "what makes you get up and come to work?" and "why do you care about your work?"

"As we hoped, their answers showed some patterns and commonalities. Surprisingly, it wasn’t inherent intelligence or fancy degrees that made them top performers. It was their set of values that made them stand above the rest," Agrawal said.

Top Traits of Great Employees

Here were the most commonly shared traits:

1. They look at the big picture

Before taking up a task, they try to understand the purpose or the end goal. They seek answers to some basic questions surrounding the thought process behind performing an activity or the end goal they’d want to meet.

2. They are regarded as the 'go-to person'

They conduct their own research and spend more time reading about the business, customers and industry/domain, than the average performers. They like being known as Subject Matter Experts (SME) or the ‘go to person’ in their domain.

3. Their work represents them

They don’t just think about finishing a task, they want to do the best job possible. As a result, their deliverables have a trademark quality and are client ready more often than not.

4. They go above and beyond

They’re happy to do more than they are asked to do if it will help attain the goal. They enjoy being entrusted with responsibility or ownership and the recognition/appreciation that follows after successfully delivering on it.

5. They don’t break their word

If they commit to doing something at a particular time, they just do it. In rare cases when they aren’t able to deliver on their commitment, they let the concerned person know well in advance.

6. They think win-win

Like all employees, they want the company to reward them highly. But in return, they also want the company/clients to benefit from them and they try to add value in every way they can.

7. They have a thirst for knowledge and learning

Not only do they continuously work on their own improvement, they also teach, mentor and help others around them. They get excited and happy about collective growth.

8. They want to make a dent in the universe

They actually care about solving the industry/business problems and making a (positive) dent in the universe.

9. They focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses

They follow the mantra of iQuanti’s CEO, Viswanatha Sastry Rachakonda, who suggests, “Work actively to identify things you can be great at and work on them. Addressing your weakness will make you good, focusing on your strengths will make you great.”

While these tips may seem "small and simple, they will help you become an indispensable member of your organization," Agrawal said.