In a startup, every employee’s contribution counts — some more so than others. Here are 13 things the very best employees do.
The success of your company relies on the ability of your team members to function as a group. But there are still a few things that we all wish employees would do on their own to help further company goals.
However, it can be difficult for your employees to know what you want versus what would be crossing a line. We asked 13 founders from YEC what they wish all their employees would do more of and why. Not surprisingly, many call on traits that are valued early in a startup’s lifecycle–independence, problem-solving–but those qualities can be harder and harder to cultivate as your team grows.
(Bonus: There’s no better time of year to mention to your staff that these items are on your wish list for 2015.)
1. Share solutions to current issues.
When Victory went from six to 18 employees in one year, we encountered a lot of new problems, many of which I didn’t see until they became an even bigger problem. Being a small agency, I love when employees identify a problem and present solutions. Huge difference from just pointing out a problem. Please stand out and don’t be afraid to speak up; your boss will thank you.–Vinny Antonio, Victory Marketing Agency
2. Trade relevant reading lists.
I hear so many great ideas sprung from books my team is reading that I’m considering starting an in-house book club or reimbursing my employees for trade-related book purchases.–Sam Saxton, Salter Spiral Stair and Mylen Stairs
3. Be proactive.
Most small businesses tend to have pretty small management teams. Meaning that often, only a few people are responsible for managing the team, the business itself and growing the company–all at the same time. In such situations it becomes very helpful when employees are proactively pointing out issues and proposing new ideas and developments rather than simply waiting on word from above.–Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net
4. Tell the whole truth.
I don’t want employees who are too nervous or reluctant to say how they really feel about the work environment, a specific project, or the other members of the team. Most employers want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly so they can maintain a full understanding of all aspects of their business.–Simon Casuto, eLearning Mind
5. Contribute to industry discourse.
Employees often tend to get caught up within the internal happenings at their company and neglect to contribute to the industry-wide conversations happening among the greater business ecosystem. When an employee works on their personal brand to discuss their industry by blogging, participating in speaking engagements or being active on social media, they are also helping grow your business.–Brian Honigman, BrianHonigman.com
6. Forget the rules and find your own solutions.
I wish more employees would understand that they’re not limited by the “rules” of their tasks: that they can find unconventional problem-solving methods that perhaps I could never see, because I’m not there performing the task. Not only would this help me shape their tasks going forward, but this may open the doors for other areas for their title–and more importantly, their careers.–Rob Fulton, Exponential Black
7. Voice and defend your opinions.
My role requires me to take a firm stance quickly. If I’m wrong, or if there’s a better way to do something, I want my employees to speak up and challenge me. I’ll listen, and I’m willing to be wrong.–Ben Lyon, Kopo Kopo, Inc.
8. Act like an owner.
I love it when I see employees taking ownership of a project, deal, or client like it’s their own; like their own money is on the line and they are willing to risk being wrong because they wanted to do the right thing.–John Ruhlin, The Ruhlin Group
9. Take charge.
The employees who make the biggest impact aren’t always the boss or the high-end sales person. They’re the ones who take a stand when something isn’t right, ask questions to figure out what to fix, and offer to help when you’re backed up. We’re always looking for people that can take charge of their work and as such their growth within our company.–Josh Sprague, Orange Mud
10. Set clear goals.
Whether it’s as big as a promotion or as small as a response from a phone call, know what your goals are. Feeling accomplished is such a basic and common human quality that improves every part of who we are. I encourage my employees daily to set goals regardless of size.–Dawn Strobel, Go By Truck
11. Treat your job like it’s your business.
As an entrepreneur, we understand that no one is going to bleed for our business the same way that we do, especially someone who is at an entry or mid-level position. Finding an employee who does treat their job like it’s their business is the number one quality I wish all my employees had. Owning their work, the way they treat clients and their responsibility to the team will get them to the top.–Greg Rollett, Celebrity Expert Marketing
12. Look at the bigger picture.
I find that too many employees simply focus on the immediate task at hand without seeing the larger picture. This might mean doing a little extra research or asking some relevant questions. Most projects have a larger goal, such as developing a good relationship with a client or building our brand name. The more employees are able to tap into these larger goals, the better it is for everyone.–Shawn Porat, Fortune Cookie Advertising
13. Reinvent the wheel.
Employees know their particular job or duties best. Just because they were taught to do something one way, doesn’t mean they can’t make a change for the better. We have found so many instances where an employee knows a better way to do their job but does not speak up or take the initiative to change. If you are an employee, make your life better by making the change and owning it.–Will Land, Accessory Export, LLC