Professional Traits of Highly Effective Employees

Lesson Progress:

Welcome from CEO Celia Chan


I’m Celia Chan, the CEO of The Learning Lot. I want to welcome you to our company.

In case you’re new to the business world, CEO stands for Chief Executive Officer. That means I am the leader of the company and responsible for our success.

When I helped start The Learning Lot more than four years ago, we only had three employees, but we had big dreams. Today, we have almost 100 employees in three cities and more than 300 clients. We will expand into global markets within the next year.

To be honest, what we have already achieved is well beyond most of our original dreams. And the reason we have been so successful is because we have great employees like you.

We are a company where everyone works to make a difference by helping others; that means solving problems for our customers. It also means solving problems for the company and your team.

As the leader of the company, I have one question I want you to think about.

How can you become a great problem solver and help us make a difference?

You work on answering that question, and I’ll work on making your experience at The Learning Lot a positive one.

I look forward to getting to know you better.


Learn More About It


Read: Developing the Habits of a Great Employee


If you went to different companies and identified all of their top employees, you would find that these workers shared a common set of habits. They aren’t great employees because of luck. Rather, they all practice a set of proven actions and attitudes that make them effective.

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Employees

1. Great employees are always early.

DecorativeThe time you arrive at work or to meetings shows your level of commitment and enthusiasm. If you’re always the last one to arrive, you are shouting that you don’t care. If you arrive at the same time as everyone else, you are only showing a commitment to be average. If you arrive early, you are sending a message that you are passionate and interested.

Arriving early to work gives you a chance to be more productive. If you’re at work early, you have time to get settled and prepare your workspace before the workday begins.

Arriving early to meetings gives you time to make yourself comfortable and get ready to take notes. This shows your eagerness to learn and contribute.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself

  • How can I reduce the amount of time it takes to get settled in and start working each day?
  • If I arrive early to work, how can I use the extra time to be more productive?
  • When I attend meetings, how can I show others that I am prepared to listen and learn?

2. Great employees always work hard and smart.

Great employees work to be as productive as possible every day. This means having the self-discipline to get your workday started as quickly as possible. It means challenging yourself to do more today than you did yesterday.

But, being productive is about more than attitude and effort. It also means managing your time well. It means reducing the amount of wasted time in your day. It means finding ways to make your work more efficient.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself

  • How long does it take me to be productive once I arrive at work?
  • What are some of the ways I waste time or am inefficient at work?
  • What are some of the things I see others doing that make them productive?

3. Great employees take pride in doing high-quality work.

For great employees, “good enough” is never good enough. As a great employee, you recognize that it is your personal responsibility to make things great at work. You refuse to be satisfied with mediocre work.

A great employee always knows that “quality begins with me.” As a great employee, you aren’t sitting around waiting for someone else to make things better!

This attitude about quality extends to everything in your work environment. If your team isn’t working efficiently, you accept responsibility for improving the way you work together. If a process is inefficient, you know it’s your job to make it more efficient.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What can I do at work each day to be more aware of work quality?
  • What are some ways I can take personal responsibility for quality in the workplace?
  • What are some specific processes or areas of communication that I can begin improving immediately?

4. Great employees always have a great attitude.

You are 100% responsible for the attitude you have at work each day. You choose your attitude when you wake up in the morning. You keep choosing it on your way to work. You reinforce your attitude when you walk through the door at work and get ready for a new day.

The only difference between having a great attitude at work and having a bad one is that you chose one instead of the other.

So, don’t be lazy! Choose to be enthusiastic. Choose to be passionate. It makes an incredible difference in how you feel about yourself and others.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What can I do before leaving home each morning to choose a great attitude?
  • What can I do on my way to work each day to make sure I’m choosing a great attitude?
  • How can I remind myself to keep choosing a great attitude throughout each day?

5. Great employees make decisions and get things done.

Great employees finish things, and they finish them on time.

Being a “finisher” means you’re persistent. You make a commitment, from the beginning, to see things through to the finish. You pride yourself on never giving up.

Getting things done also means you are willing and able to make decisions. You don’t wait around and waste time because no one on your team can decide what to do. Great employees show initiative and are willing to make decisions so that work can be completed. They accept personal responsibility for the on-time completion of every task and project.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What can I do to be more persistent in my work (to be a better “finisher”)?
  • Where are some areas at work where I can improve as a decision maker?
  • How can I show more initiative at work?

Decorative6. Great employees are great teammates.

Employees who get things done with a great attitude make great teammates. They make their team look good by increasing productivity and quality. They also look to improve processes to make things go more smoothly for everyone. Being a great teammate also means you never gossip and you always treat your co-workers with respect.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What are some ways I can show my teammates that I appreciate their work?
  • How can I improve the workplace for my co-workers?
  • What steps can I take at work to avoid gossip?

7. Great employees are always learning.

Great employees are always learning. They pay attention and ask questions when they don’t understand something. They read about events and new products and technologies related to their work. They make it a point to seek out more experienced employees to get their insights and opinions.

Great employees also take advantage of every learning opportunity provided by their employer. If there’s a free class, they sign up for it. If there is an optional meeting where someone is sharing information, they attend.

Great employees observe everything they can about their workplace and learn everything possible about how things work.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What are some of the learning opportunities offered by my employer?
  • What are specific products or technologies that I should learn more about in order to be a great employee?
  • Who is someone at my workplace that I can learn from?

Reflect: It's Your Turn


Expand: See-Own-Solve: Three Simple Steps to Becoming a Great Employee

The S-O-S Work Philosophy

New employees have a lot of information to keep up with — information about the job, about the company, and about the company’s processes and technology. So, how can you keep up with all that information and still concentrate on becoming a great employee? The S-O-S philosophy is one easy way to do just that. S-O-S is a simple work philosophy that is easy to remember and easy to apply in any work situation.

S-O-S stands for See-Own-Solve.

DecorativeSee means seeing what you need to do and looking for ways to improve. You will do your best to understand and complete your work in a successful manner. You will always look for ways to improve your work or the work of the people around you.

Own means that you take personal responsibility for your work. You own it!. You also take responsibility for the reputation of your team and company.

Solve means that you complete all assigned tasks in a successful manner. It also means that you find successful solutions for improving the work of your team and company.

Putting S-O-S into Action

See-Own-Solve. You can apply it to every task and situation at work. Here’s an example.

DecorativeLet’s say people in your team are required to provide a report on their work each week. They do this by filling out a form. Unfortunately, the form is several years old and it asks for information in a way that is different from how you collect it. This means everyone has to take their information and convert it into the format required by the outdated form. This takes each employee about 30 minutes of additional work each week.

Putting S-O-S into action, you see the current process and also see that it interferes with productivity. Next, you take ownership of the situation. You take the old form and take time during your lunch break to come up with an alternative that will eliminate the wasted time. Once you have a possible solution, you take it to your superior and ask her opinion. Would this be an improvement? Would there be a better way to approach the problem? Can she help initiate a change so the team can stop wasting time?

Keep in mind that what’s important isn’t that your solution is implemented. There could be reasons the company continues to use an old form even if it causes inefficiencies.

The important thing is that you have shown that you are a great employee! You are looking out for the company’s best interest. You are alert on the job and always looking for ways to improve yourself and the people around you.

Activity:  Try It Out


What Would You Do?

Read the following scenario and then make a decision about what you would do. Each decision you make will present you with a consequence related to your actions. When there are no more decisions to make, you have reached the end of the scenario, and can then “Submit” your responses.

Lesson Resources

License and Citations

Content License

Lesson Content:

Authored and curated by Rob Reynolds, Ph.D. for The TEL Library. CC BY NC SA

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