If you think about the best employees at your company, what qualities do they have? Sure, being a valuable employee involves being intelligent, reliable, and competent, but it's about so much more than that.

Many people don't realize that work success is often a reflection of your character traits. For example, if you're unselfish, passionate, and enthusiastic, chances are you are the kind of person most people want to work with. Those qualities translate to success regardless of your industry.

"There was a time when success was measured by the title you held at work, the size of your home, or the make of your car," explains Sheryl Connelly, global consumer trends expert. "But it seems society has been moving away from these traditional markers of success and making way for much more individual expressions of success."

Here are five ways to be a better employee -- and ultimately, to get more recognition:

1. Be proactive and show initiative.

Passionate energy is contagious, so don't be afraid to voice your opinions and bring up new ideas. Offer to help your colleagues and go a step beyond what is asked of you, though not in an obnoxious, showy way, of course. The rest of your team will enjoy working with you not only because you're a hard worker, but also because you inspire them to bring their best selves to the table.

"Going the extra mile for your employer can initiate innovative responses to problematic issues facing your company," reports leading search firm, BTI Consultants. "The results of your focus typically result in win-win situations.

2. Become a student of the data.

Learn everything you can and stay on top of new trends. Your co-workers will look to you for guidance and your boss will view you as a reliable resource, admiring your enthusiasm and commitment.

3. Show interest in your co-worker's personal and professional life.

If your colleague just returned from vacation, ask how it went. Also, remember to follow up when your supervisor or teammates have an important interview or business meeting. Connecting with your boss on a personal level isn't a requirement, but it will make your job more enjoyable .

4. Develop your communication skills.

Learning how to effectively communicate when a problem arises is crucial.

"Fear of confrontation is so overwhelming, but if you communicate boldly, more frequently, and honestly... and you're not afraid to work through conflict, you'll likely reduce your stress and be a better worker," says Lynn Taylor, national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant; How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.

If your boss questions why an assignment is late, be confident and explain the reason why. It could be as simple as "something more urgent came up that you had to finish first," or "one of your colleagues needed help with a mission-critical project." The worst thing you can do in a situation like this is to just apologize without an explanation. You don't want your boss to think you're lazy, unable to perform your job, or don't care enough to communicate the reasons for the delay.

5. Know what makes each individual on your team tick, and use that to motivate them.

Being great at your job is one thing, but if you can motivate others to do the same, you'll quickly become invaluable. Even if you don't consider yourself to be a leader, there are many ways to motivate someone. If you think about the employee everyone loves at your job, they most likely possess the skill to inspire people around them.

Do any of these techniques resonate with you? Do you have any you'd like to add to the list?

Published on: May 27, 2015
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