As a business owner, professional writer, and career management specialist, I am often asked “what separates a good employee from a great employee.”
Quite bluntly, in a word: diligence. To put this term into perspective, let’s examine the formal definition and then transmit the concept into an actual application, ultimately relating how the practice of delivering career diligence morphs good into great.
According to numerous resources, diligence is:
* To give a constant effort to accomplish something
* To be attentive and persistent in doing anything
* Done or pursued with persevering attention
* Constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken
With the concept defined above, in order to take full advantage of your career opportunities, you need to recognize the underlying meaning. That is, simply doing the job is not enough AND, in the eyes of the employer, going above and beyond job responsibilities will be rewarded by way of recognition, (hopefully) increased income, and (hopefully) job security.
For the following example, you decide which employee is the keeper during rough times and which two employees would be on the wrong side of right-sizing (by the way, this situation reflects an actual event where I had to make a choice—though the details below are thin, I believe you can still decide their fate).
While operating a career management firm, I oversaw an operational crew exceeding 65 employees. I was tasked to reduce our customer service staff by two (leaving eight employed). After narrowing the list of possible employees to terminate to three, a second evaluation stage was undertaken. All of the remaining three performed their job as required by defined roles so the determination was made on bottom-line value and overall contributions.
Overall contributions include such things as attitude, willingness to learn roles beyond defined duties, professional courtesy (actions and attire), getting to work on time, and a proven eagerness to represent the company well.
Carmen. She always showed up at work on time and rarely called in sick. She enjoyed her position and had been employed with the company for 18 months. Though she did not ask to learn other aspects of operations, she did lend a hand when she felt comfortable with the task and team. During formal evaluations, she never expressed a desire for professional development… she was content with the way things were.
Vicky. She was a recent graduate and had been employed for nine months with the company. Though originally hired for a management training position, Vicky did not work well with others and displayed an attitude of progress complacency. Her performance was above average and customer service skills were also above average. Over the past year, she also showed up on time and rarely called in sick.
Robert. He was still within a 90-day probationary period and was introduced to the company via an externship opportunity. Though “green” in several areas, he seemed eager to learn more than what his job defined. He extended a professional and supportive attitude as well as a positive commitment to progress within the company. Robert completed two professional development on-line courses (on his own) to heighten his customer service skills. Just before his formal evaluation, he presented a proposal to streamline in-bound calls which had the potential to save several hundred dollars monthly.
Of the three selections above, which one would you have kept on the team and why?
I chose the one who I felt would progress the company beyond the moment and deliver benefits well into the future. Needless to say, the one I chose stayed with the company after I moved on and became a director of operations in less than one year.
Diligence means more than simply showing up on time or getting the job done. To me, diligence is a commitment to bring the complete package to the table.
What does the concept mean to you? In the comment box, go ahead and share your ideas with the world.
Delivering career diligence tip: Believing is not enough… To survive, you must do… more than enough.
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Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist
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