Most of us have a good idea, or at least a personal conception of what constitutes a "good employee." These are employees you've hired who show up to work, every day, on time, and do their job to the best of their ability. They don't waste time, they don't complain, and they contribute positively to your work environment.
Unfortunately, the "perfect" employee doesn't exist. There are hundreds of types of employees, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and even in the context of those categories, individual differences make it impossible to find a real employee who fits the model exactly. Still, there are certain types of employees that perform better than others--improving the productivity of the entire organization instead of merely performing their own responsibilities as efficiently as possible. These are employees who, either directly or indirectly, facilitate a stronger environment, which makes your entire team just a little bit better:
1. The Initiator. The initiator is an employee who believes in the company and is passionate about what he/she does. This type of employee doesn't show up because a paycheck demands it. Instead, this employee is motivated by his/her own desires and interests. The initiator isn't tied to a system of assignment and execution like most employees--instead of needing constant direction or suggestion, the initiator will invent his/her own projects, and take initiative to present new ideas for possible execution.
This employee is especially beneficial for a team environment, because his/her disposition for starting unique one-off initiatives will set a tone of independence for the rest of the organization to follow.
2. The Positive Agent. The positive agent doesn't work much differently from any other employee, but he/she carries a positive attitude no matter what happens. The positive agent shows up with a wide smile, gets to work quickly and doesn't sweat it when little things go wrong. Even during catastrophic failures or moments of crisis, the positive agent remains calm and optimistic, never letting negativity get the better of him/her.
In work environments, negativity is a toxin that can easily spread from person to person and ruin the morale and attitudes of your workers. Fortunately, positivity can be spread in much the same way. A handful of positive agents on your team can cultivate and maintain a positive attitude for all your employees.
3. The Backup. The backup doesn't feel confined to his/her own workspace, and isn't afraid to get his/her hands dirty. In fact, the backup will actually go out of his/her way to help other people in your organization, even if they work in another department. This is because the backup has a strong sense of teamwork and camaraderie, and would rather take on a few extra tasks from another team member than to see that team member overloaded.
While in an ideal world, workloads would always be balanced between departments, in reality, that's never the case. The backup will inspire your employees to help one another when in need, even when doing so requires them to step out of their comfort zone.
4. The Goal-Getter. The goal-getter is a highly motivated individual who thrives on challenges, and loves the chance to achieve an individual or collective goal. They often thrive in sales or marketing environments, where high-stakes sales quotas or deadlines can motivate them to do their best. Rather than feeling intimidated by a lofty goal, the goal-getter is enthralled by it, and will often rally his/her other team members to get similarly excited.
The goal-getter doesn't always meet goals more often than his/her counterparts, but he/she always drives more encouragement, more ambition, and more excitement in the workplace--and that's always a good thing.
5. The Voice. The voice is the employee who isn't afraid to express his/her opinion. Sometimes these opinions are positive and sometimes these opinions are negative, but they're always honest and they're always expressed. The voice is an essential player on your team because you can always count on him/her to give you honest, direct feedback and ideas from an outside perspective.
Even more importantly, if the voice is consistently open about his/her opinion and rewarded for it, that habit will encourage others within your organization to be similarly open, cultivating an environment of open collaboration and discussion.
If you don't already have employees who embody these traits on your team, get some as soon as possible. These team-inspiring traits are indispensable, as they not only improve performance on an individual level, they also build a sense of camaraderie and positivity as a group. Reward your employees for exhibiting these traits, and try to embody these traits yourself, wherever you can. Cultivating a positive, productive work environment takes time, but it's much easier when you have the right employees on your team.