10 Things Really Amazing Employees Do

by Kevin Daum

As a longtime employer of dozens, I was always grateful to have good employees. It takes a lot to recruit and maintain top talent. Every once in a while special employees come along that just really seem to get it. They drive the entire company forward in ways that were unimaginable. Advancement and reward is never an issue for these rock stars because they understand the power of cause and effect, and only a worthy company can retain them and afford them.

Here are 10 things amazing employees seem to do effortlessly. Here’s how to help your great employees be even more amazing.

1. Enthusiastically Learn All Aspects of Business

They understand they’re part of something bigger and more worthwhile than just their job. They look to learn other areas of the business and be fluent in finance and management so they’ll positively impact multiple areas of the company.

What you can do: Invest in material and seminars on business basics like accounting, marketing, and management so all employees have easy access to learn and grow.

2. Steward the Company

They treat the company as if it were theirs. They look to make prudent decisions about expenses and opportunities with the long-term future of the company in mind. They easily assess risk vs. reward, selflessly when making decisions.

What you can do: Be transparent in your business. The more you share your financials and philosophy, the easier it is for employees to make the right decisions.

3. Generate Viable Opportunities

You don’t have to be in sales or marketing to help a company grow. Strong networkers from all divisions see company growth as a collective effort and constantly keep their eyes open for ways to more than pay for themselves.

What you can do: Make sure all your employees understand your value proposition and can easily identify opportunities. Then reward them openly for their efforts.

4. Resolve Issues Before They Are Issues

My favorite days running companies are when I notice positive change in procedure when I was totally unaware of the need for change. Amazing employees are always looking to improve systems proactively, and they do.

What you can do: Communicate a clear written vision of where the company is going and encourage initiative so people feel safe and empowered to make change.

5. Tell It Like It Is

Amazing employees understand that hiding bad news helps no one. They find kind ways to bring uncomfortable information to the surface, but they DO bring it to the surface. They tell people what’s necessary before major damage is done.

What you can do: Foster an open communication environment where people are not only given permission to tell the truth, but also absolutely required.

6. Demonstrate High Standards, With Low Maintenance

I always feel relaxed when I can trust an employee to perform a task to the same high standards I would expect from myself. Not all can do this without constant attention or difficulty. Amazing employees quietly drive their own high standards.

What you can do: Set the example and the tone for high performance with minimal drama. Publicly reward those who can execute in the same manner.

7. Grow Themselves, and Others

They not only drive their own career but they inspire others to do the same. These employees lead by example in how to advance without creating animosity or resentment. They see and create their perfect future, and also bring others along.

What you can do: Encourage personal development and peer growth through dedicated group time and learning for career advancement.

8. Research, Apply, and Refine

No employer expects people to know everything. In this fast changing world, I choose employees who will learn over those who know. The best employee proactively explores options, takes action and then improves without direction from the top.

What you can do: Invest time in exploration and expansive thinking. Encourage people to explore deep visionary projects with time and reward for the findings.

9. Stimulate Happiness

Amazing employees aren’t always sunshine and roses. They do know how to keep it real. But they understand the dynamics of people, stress, and the blend of work, life and friendship. They are self-aware and able to direct their own path that brings out their best with family, friends and career. They exude positive energy even in stressful times and share it around, making for a happier office.

What you can do: Create an environment where people can openly express themselves. Encourage them to work hard in fulfilling ways and achieve their dreams.

10. Facilitate Amazing Bosses

Amazing employees make me grow as an employer. They self-confidently get their value and help me get mine. They make me want to be worthy of working with somebody of such high caliber, without ever saying it directly of course.

What you can do: Make effort to genuinely show appreciation for any of the behaviors above so people feel their value and will grow to full potential. Then they will do the same for you.

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An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies. @awesomeroar

http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/10-things-really-amazing-employees-do.html?goback=.gde_1426_member_232095769

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3 Characteristics of Amazing Presentations

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by Margaret Heffernan

I recently attended a TEDGlobal conference. It was (as the veterans say) my ‘first’ TED and, while I was nervous about my own talk, I was thrilled to hear everyone else’s. Apart from some genuinely provocative ideas which have stuck with me ever since, this was an opportunity to watch some wonderful presentations and reflect on what makes a great talk.

Here are my top observations:

1. Stories always work.

Human beings remember things that matter. So lots of charts, slides, and numbers may be important, but they’re hard to retain. Memorable speeches build a connection between the speaker and the audience and stories–especially personal ones–are what make that connection last. Researcher Mina Bissell’s narrative about what led her to think differently about the structure of cancer took an abstract idea and made it real.

2. Images are meaningless–with one exception.

I saw a lot of slides and most of them I can’t even remember. But the few that I do I’ll remember forever. One of the best was journalist Andrew Blum’s picture of the physical reality of the Internet: a bunch of divers laying cables across the sea bed. Every time anyone mentions the cloud now, I know it isn’t a cloud, and it isn’t in the sky; it’s wires under our feet.

3. Enthusiasm isn’t everything.

I heard a number of very eager speakers whose content evaporated a few moments after they stopped talking. I even remember what they looked like and the fancy fonts in their slides, but not what they said. Information really does matter and however evangelical the delivery, substance beats style every time.

When you’re doing corporate presentations, the same rules apply. Stories–the right stories–take facts out of the abstract and make them engaging and memorable. Images only work when they say something. And bouncy salesmanship evaporates faster than perfume. Even the biggest presentations are, at heart, great conversations.

Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur and author. She has been chief executive of InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation, and iCAST Corporation. In 2011, she published her third book, Willful Blindness. @M_Heffernan

http://www.inc.com/margaret-heffernan/amazing-presentations-characteristics-basics.html

Moving the Needle

You’ve seen it at ball games and on TV shows. The noise meter. Someone’s trying to get the crowd going to cheer on the home team or to select a contestant. So the noise meter is rolled out. The louder and more enthusiast the crowd gets, the more the needle moves towards the “frenzy” side of the meter. It’s fun. It’s loud. It’s designed to motivate the team to do more, score another run, to get everyone on the same page.

I think this concept is missing in many (most) companies. No, I’m not advocating screaming employees whipped up into a chaotic volume riot. I’m talking about enthusiasm about a shared vision and goals.

A lot of strategic planning can be, well, boring for most employees. Mostly because they are never told the “why” behind the decisions. The senior executives make a plan, may or may not communicate the plan to everyone, and then the staff is left to figure out what is happening and what they should be doing to execute the plan.

How different would it be if the senior executives spent intentional time in finding ways to really get the staff behind their vision? I’m not talking about shallow meetings meant to gin up the employees. I’m talking about meetings where the staff is given an honest assessment of where the company is and where it can go. A meeting where the vision will not be realized without the innovation, creativity, energy, hard work of the staff. But it doesn’t stop there.

As a manager, you have the responsibility to keep the vision alive in your staff. It is your job to keep momentum rolling. How?

* Keep the goals in front of your staff all the time. Keep their eyes on the target.
* Share the numbers. There is a story behind the numbers and make sure your team knows that story and how they can and will impact them in a positive way.
* Stretch them. Don’t be afraid to look into the future and challenge your team to do more than they may (at the time) believe they can achieve.
* Encourage them all along the way. Praise in public. Counsel in private.

Personal note: about 15 months ago, I collaborated with a colleague where we put a plan in place to capture more lending opportunities coming in via our website. We started up an eServices division in my department with 2 carefully chosen team players. We trained them and asked them to not only to do the work, but to analyze their work to help us continually find ways to improve this delivery channel. Their manager and I committed ourselves to encourage their progress along the way. The results?

* Loans outstanding (what is on our books) grew from just over $2 million to $12.6 (ending August).
* We’ve grown $6.9 million just since January.
* We are seeing around $1.4 million/month in loan production.
* Our loan quality is outstanding. Our loan servicing department reports that we rarely have any unresolved issues.

The other day, I challenged this team to stretch to a new goal – $1 million/month for EACH of them. I believe they can do it! I told them I believe they could do it. Guess what? They also believe they can do it. We talked about what it would take to get there. I committed to them what I would do to help get them there. They committed to me that they would do what they needed to do to get there. We don’t know when this will happen, but there WILL be a day when they each hit that $1 million mark in 1 month. It will be the happy dance day!

Enthusiasm fueling a clear vision that is clearly defined makes work fun, exciting, a bit scary, and meaningful. As a manager, you can keep moving that needle as you help keep your team focused and enthused about growing and developing and achieving.

Move that needle!