They pick up the slack.

They show up early for work.

They always have a positive attitude.

These are the typical qualities you might look for in a good employee. But what about the really great ones? What about the remarkable employees who stand out from the rest? They tend to possess traits that go far beyond just getting to work on time. Here they are.

1. They have a ceaseless desire to improve.

The employees to cherish the most, the ones who should get the best raises, are the ones who are always trying to improve. You know the type. They attend extra seminars. They show up early to work not just to get coffee, but to read up on the latest industry trends. A good learner is also someone who is willing to share knowledge, so this employee speaks up and educates everyone else in the firm (in a good way, not with a pedantic attitude).

How to spot this behavior: Buy all your employees some Udemy credits and make it known that you are encouraging their education and will be happy to reward the employee who finishes up a few courses first. Or, arrange to hold some seminars and see who signs up.

2. They will sacrifice their selfish interests for the team.

You'll need to pay attention to this one. Unselfish employees tend to lay low and won't trumpet their own activities too loudly. Yet the really valuable employees have a way of making their own desire for success a secondary priority and seeing team success as more important. They get the big picture. An example of this is the most obvious in a sales team. The employee who is always encouraging others, suggesting ideas, doing extra training, and even handing off product lines cares more about the company itself than making the most commission or getting the most attention.

How to spot this behavior: Look for the employee who is training, encouraging, mentoring, and leading others. That's a sure sign of someone who wants the whole team to succeed.

3. They know how to overlook your faults.

Here's an interesting one. We all know there are employees who, when you work with them, can't seem to overcome the fact that you don't always communicate perfectly or that you talk too much. These employees have a self-righteous attitude that tends to destroy morale. But the employee who can overlook your faults? That's someone who understands we all have room to improve. When an employee doesn't have a fault-finding attitude, it can spur everyone else in the company to achieve more.

How to spot this behavior: It's easy. Most employees are always throwing out a laundry list of complaints. Oh, Joe in accounting might arrive at his desk early or have a good attitude on his own projects, but he is well-known as a complainer. Listen closely. When you finally find an employee who doesn't complain or doesn't seem to notice your faults, reward that person. Be thankful you have someone on your team who is willing to work hard even without perfect colleagues.

Published on: Aug 28, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.