I've worked with a lot of different kinds of people since I started my company. While no two people are the same, there are a couple of traits that have made some irreplaceable. As you grow your company, you're going to make great hires and bad ones. What you will notice is that the best people you hire will have some combination of the traits below. These are the team members you never want to let go. Through good and bad times, these are the qualities that define a great team member. While sometimes the traits below are undervalued, they are in large part what separate a great team from an average one.
1. They Do Whatever Needs To Be Done For The Company
When people come to a startup from a corporate environment, learning to wear a variety of hats can be a struggle. The amount of change that a new company goes through as it progresses is incredible. One minute there are two people, and the next you have an entire team and office. Through these stages, the members of your organization who are unable to adjust will fizzle out. For instance, in the early stages of our company we used to ask our developers to help on sales calls. We needed as much help as we could get, and at the time we needed everyone on the front lines selling.
Initially, there were people who just weren't comfortable doing this. These people eventually left the company or were asked to leave. True loyalty is always tested when we must do what we are scared to do for the betterment of the whole.
What was interesting is that the ones who stepped up to the challenge have continued to become the most valuable members of our team. As the leader, you'll be so thankful to have these kinds of go-getters in your startup. In a new venture, you have to make quick decisions and get the whole team on board. Waiting too long is a recipe for a slow death. And because of that, there are many times when you have to ask an employee to do something without having time to explain why. The best team members will listen and do the job that needs to be done. The mediocre will make excuses and hold you back.
2. They are always looking to improve personally and professionally
Great players are never complacent with their skill sets. Whenever I talk to potential hires, I always ask what they want to improve on. The best answers I get are ones that include activities outside of their job. Answers like becoming a better rock climber, finding more time to read, or learning to cook are great examples.
The outlook we have on our personal lives has a direct correlation on how we treat our work as well. The exceptional people whom I've worked with all found a way to incorporate self-growth in their daily lives. Because of their obsession to improve, they have never acted like they knew everything or put others down. Instead, their drive to improve made them among the best catalysts of a great company culture.
3. They are ridiculously consistent
Most people we come across are motivated in spurts. A perfect example of this is the New Year's resolution. At first, everyone is motivated and excited. Two weeks later, they go back to where they started. The people who I've most been able to count on in my team are the ones who execute the same small tasks everyday to perfection. A couple of examples: making sure you get all your emails answered and keeping your calendar up to date.
While this seems like a small and easy task to focus on, a leader who knows a team member will always be on top of communication is a huge plus. You don't have to micromanage them, and it's much easier to give their trust. I can tell you I'd rather have someone who's consistent with the small tasks than someone who's an all-star for one week.
Greatness isn't built through one heroic moment, or trying to be a master in everything. It's created through executing the tasks that most consider boring, and then mastering them.