Focus on your qualities to become a better employee

We all want to be admired and respected at work; be seen as that team member whose abundance of social skills and professionalism sets them apart from the rest. But what are the key ingredients you need to have the desirable qualities of a person who truly thrives in their job?

What are the most desirable qualities of a person in the workplace?

There are, of course, numerous qualities of a person that could be listed here, but the following are regarded as a good place to start.


Meaning: “Engaging in an activity or task with great competence.”

If you don't act in a professional way in a work situation, it can be very detrimental, both to your standing as an expert in your field and to those around you. Being professional means performing your job with skill, competence, ethics, and courtesy, and is shown by those who take their role seriously and respect the people they work for and with.


Meaning: “An obligation for which one can be held to account for one's own results and one's actions.”

Being held accountable and taking ownership of your own accountability is vital in order to foster a work culture that ensures accountability is at its very heart. It can cultivate a supportive and healthy environment in the workplace, with each member of the team embracing their own accountability, as well as holding each other to account. It's inevitable that we'll make mistakes at work; it's owning those mistakes, and fessing up to them so that you can move on, that's often more important than the mistake itself.


Meaning: “Adherence to moral principles; honesty.”

Doing the right thing; that's having integrity and transparency. If you follow the principles of upholding moral, ethical, and authentic behaviour at work, you can't go far wrong. Making sure your part of the project is completed, so you're not holding up co-workers, shows you have a strong work ethic, behave with honour, and take informed decisions that support others. It runs alongside being honest, where you hold the truth in high regard and don't stoop so low that you carry out deceitful acts or indulge in office gossip.


Meaning: “The power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person's feelings.”

Stepping into someone else's shoes, as it were, can be enlightening and informative, especially if you work in customer-facing roles such as retail or hospitality. Being able to understand the reasons behind the motivations, needs, and emotions of others forms an understanding of why people do what they do and makes them more relatable. It's a real people skill to have and to hold onto.


Meaning: “Polite or kind regard; consideration.”

Being respected at work is all well and good, but in this context it's about treating all colleagues with respect on an equal basis, from the caretaker to the CEO. It stems from seeing the value in others, regardless of their status or occupation, and can lead to making valuable connections and important networking opportunities.


Meaning: “Instinctive knowledge or belief.”

Having a “gut feeling” or a “hunch” about something at work, which turns out to be correct, can be so satisfying and beneficial. It's all about being open to how your mind works and trusting yourself and your instincts. It might be that a whole solution comes to mind, or a seed of an idea starts to grow. However you use your intuition, you can draw connections between different inputs without the need for conscious thought. It's great when making decisions where you have to take action quickly, as it dispels the need for procrastination.


Meaning: “To concentrate on hearing something.”

There are different ways of listening to others, including active listening and reflective listening. It might seem like a simple quality to possess, but it's vitally important in the workplace. If employees feel like they aren't being listened to, they're likely to become demotivated, withdrawn, and not bothered about how well they perform. Listening unlocks the door to effective communication. By focusing on what someone says and how they say it, by paying attention to their corresponding body language, it increases the chances of correctly interpreting what they mean and understanding what they're saying.


Meaning: “Willingness and liberality in giving away one's time, money, or other asset.”

Being kind and generous are under-rated qualities in the workplace, as well as the wider world. It's not about popping £50 into the leaving pot of some random bloke in another department when £10 would suffice; it's more about allowing individuals to act selflessly along with offering genuine kindness, even when it's of no benefit to the giver. In this atmosphere, workers are more inclined to share successes and support the growth of others.


Meaning: “The power or quality of dealing with, or facing, danger, fear, pain, etc.”

Not that it's expected that most places of work are filled with danger or pain but, with courage, you can work through any disagreements or raised issues that can cause obstacles, without compromising your principles. Additionally, having the courage of your convictions shows strength, so if you believe you've made the right decision, make sure you stick to your guns.


Meaning: “A feeling of thankfulness or appreciation, as of gifts or favours.”

There's no bribery involved here, more about being grateful for the opportunities and people you've encountered over time, which means you can act mindfully and recognise the value in any given situation. This can also extend to expressing gratitude towards any challenges faced and the lessons learned by overcoming them. 

Can you ever alter the qualities of a person?

According to psychologists, the qualities of a person can be changed but it requires willpower, effort, and self-awareness. While it might not be so easy to transform from being an introvert to an extrovert, for example, there are some characteristics of humans that can be altered, such as being more generous to a wider set of people or taking a more honest approach.

The takeaway

Most of us possess good qualities and some… ahem… not so good qualities of a person. We're only human, after all. Focusing on your greatest strengths when at work, or when searching for a new role, is key. If you find nailing those qualities of a person in relation to yourself to be tricky, ask a trusted colleague how they view you and your assets. Then, take those comments on board and use them to self-improve.

If you're in the market for a new position, you'll want to show off the amazing qualities of the person that you've become within your application. Submit your CV for a free review and start down that road with a fresh perspective.

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