We are fast approaching the end of the first quarter, 2017.  It is a good time for employees to begin to assess how their individual business goals measure-up to their department’s or company’s goals thus far. A key point to note is that your end product or service as an employee contributes to your company’s brand, customer service, and very importantly, the bottom-line. This IS a big deal.

It makes sense to acknowledge that the workplace is a highly competitive environment. Are employees looking to outdo each other? Most likely. I am not familiar with any company culture that promotes mediocre or laissez-faire performance. In fact, pay for performance – merit pay raises and annual bonuses – is a well-established approach aimed at driving and rewarding individual accomplishments at work. This is an employee engagement strategy. But how do you distinguish yourself as a leading contributor from the pack? How do you become a model employee?

It used to be and perhaps still is, that many organizations reward model employees with the title, “Employee of the Year.” There would be a set criteria, some more far-reaching than others. The model employee would be described as follows:

  • Consistently and clearly surpasses performance requirements of his/her position.
  • Makes significant contributions toward reaching the department’s goals and objectives.
  • Exhibits a high level of leadership and cooperation in working with colleagues, management, vendors, and the general public.
  • Nominee is productive, exhibits commitment to quality in carrying out job responsibilities and is an asset to the staff of his/her department.
  • Nominee is willing to take initiative and accepts and carries out additional responsibilities beyond regular job assignments.
  • Nominee is consistently dependable and punctual in reporting for duty, completing assignments on time, and participating in additional responsibilities.
  • Nominee excels in knowledge and expertise in his/her department.

Additional criteria might lend itself to components that also positively impact corporate culture and engagement:

  • Devotion to duty – far and above the normal requirements, contributing to and significantly advancing the work of the organization.
  • Innovation – Employee has initiated research or has successfully established new and outstanding methods, practices, plans or designs in key product and service areas.
  • Human Relations – Employee has made outstanding contributions toward enhancing the quality and morale of the workplace or creating a better public image of the department or company.
  • Community/Public Service – Employee has made outstanding contributions by participating in or implementing community and public service projects (such as volunteering with various non-profit organizations).
  • Safety and Heroism – Employee demonstrated outstanding judgment or courage in an emergency; voluntarily risking his/her life, or exhibited meritorious action to prevent injury, loss of life or prevented damage to or loss of property.

Notwithstanding this, recognize that an individual’s career success ought not to be tied down to a title such as “Employee of the Year.” In my quest for qualifying views on the model employee, I reached out to a few executives, inviting their thoughts on who is a model employee in their non-profit, consultancy or service industry firm.

I learned from James L. Lipscomb, a highly respected legal mind within the United States and internationally, that the notion of a model employee may not fit all levels and types of employment. With a highly successful career, the former General Counsel at a Fortune 50 company, and now Advisory Board Chair with a 501(c) organization, Center of Hope-Haiti, Inc. cautions: “Unfortunately, an employee’s success in a particular job at a particular employer is often more about what is expected by the decision-maker than it is about what the employee knows. For this reason, the employee should be aware that success in a career will likely be the product of several places of employment over time. “

I’ve also learned from a global talent management guru that companies pay significant attention to and highly reward “high potential” employees. “High potentials consistently and significantly outperform their peer groups in a variety of settings and circumstances. While achieving these superior levels of performance, they exhibit behaviors that reflect their companies’ culture and values in an exemplary manner. Moreover, they show a strong capacity to grow and succeed throughout their careers within an organization—more quickly and effectively than their peer groups do” (Harvard Business Review, 2010). They (i) deliver strong results, (ii) master new types of expertise, and (iii) recognize that behavior counts.

I hope that you are better prepared for Q2 and the remaining quarters of 2017, now that you are armed with ideas presented here. I encourage you to rework your approach if necessary, and plan accordingly.

(Additional sources: Central Virginia Community College; The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.)


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Caroline Bruno

Caroline is a talented writer/editor and progressive thinker whose character, capacity and spirit are admired by family, friends, and colleagues alike. She holds sHRBP credentials with Human Capital Institute...

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  1. This current era calls for the best or modeled employees in order to realize the kind of results desired by corporate organizations. It is absolutely correct when you state that behavior counts, for it is only with the right attitude that one can realize repeated success, and a model employee is always one who exhibits positivity in most, if not all aspects of life, which ultimately lends to one’s behavior.

    1. Thanks for sharing and highlighting the significance of behavior in the scheme of things. Agreed! Emotional Intelligence is a key component of career success.

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