Ahh, the ideal co-worker – how many do you know? The good news is that we’re all likely to encounter one or two such paragons somewhere along the line. In reality, most people are nearing perfection when they make the effort to exercise several or more of the following traits.
1. Pride in workplace – they pick up loose lying items, they tidy things out of place, they put things away after use. This makes for a welcoming, serviceable office, but it’s better still when everyone is tasked with the responsibility of keeping the place clean.
2. Offer you things at right times! – beverages and food when you are frantic, running errands when you are exhausted. These people are intuitive, thoughtful people – no more need be said. Just be sure you return the favours as they will need pick-me-ups on occasion.
3. Help you when you’re stuck – sometimes you cannot solve a problem, technical or stressful – the ideal co-worker reaches out and offer practical help. “Two heads are better than one” as the old saying goes. Sometimes you just need someone to listen while you think aloud. The ideal co-worker gets it, and is willing to contribute however s/he can.
4. Calming influence – they know what to say and do to make you feel peaceful vs more stressed. Such people are observant and compassionate. They have spent years experiencing different work climates and seeing where the multiple pressure points are. They know what to say, and when, and their calm aura radiates to the point you end up seeking these special people out when you are feeling overloaded.
5. They take on extra – while others disappear or leave as the clock strikes, they stay back to help. These enlightened types know the “glow” of giving and you will frequently see them going the extra mile to make sure projects and products are safely delivered. Reward them by ensuring that the workload is shared, and properly.
6. They communicate clearly – this makes them a pleasure to deal with. The person who speaks plainly and with clarity is invariably appreciated, compared to someone long-winded. When they also deploy tact and consideration, they are someone you always respect and want to work with every day.
7. They are open to change – even with bad news or sudden change of direction – they get on with it without complaining. Alright, they might grumble a little, but grumbling if it’s not excessive or habitual is quite reasonable. Humans can find big change overwhelming; incremental changes are easier to deal with. The ideal co-worker instinctively knows this, and in managing their own reactions, helps set the pace for others.
8. Honest and ethical – they’re prepared to occasionally dish unpalatable truths, particularly if others are sliding around commitments or making things up as they go. The ideal co-worker is not going to go along with any charade and may call out dishonesty when they see it. Don’t shoot the messenger; pay heed to their message.
9. Don’t gossip and run people down – because they recognise the big trap a gossip is making for him/herself. They may raise their eyebrows at someone’s shenanigans, they may perfect the well-timed shrug when an exhibitionist colleague flashes the office or tells an off-colour joke, but they resist the lure of ganging up on others.
10. Reliable and punctual – absolutely. Such people “get” what’s involved to keep office admin, processes and relationships well-lubricated. Being late and inconsistent is the best way to soon be overlooked – don’t reward such behaviour.
11. Like to problem-solve – they make suggestions for how to fix things or try new ways. This trait is not always apparent because no colleague has all fifteen traits, but the problem solvers amongst us are definitely lifesavers. The key is to spot those with that aptitude, and encourage them to speak up more and / give them tasks from the “too hard” basket.
12. They are fun and energised – not moody, lethargic, don’t drag people down. Many would agree with this, simply because life is hard enough without grouches and whiners. They bring their own energy to the team and this rubs off on others – who feel uplifted and themselves get energised.
13. They are self-directed – initiative and autonomy are praiseworthy qualities, and more is always needed in busy, complex workplaces. Be careful though, as some “self-directed” types do not like taking direction from others and may need to be reminded they are part of a team. Self-direction combined with flexibility gets an A-plus.
14. Attention to detail – they like to get it right and can be relied on to check work. But if they become obsessive they can become an annoying team member. Attention to detail but not emotional and angry with those who are less inclined.
15. Show passion and enthusiasm for work and life – treasure enthusiasm, but help co-workers to harness passion. Enthusiasm is desirable in the work environment; it’s contagious when people tackle things with gusto and enjoyment. “Passion” is great but can sometimes be misconstrued; some people take their energies over the top and put others off in the process. Unbridled passion is also easy prey for unscrupulous employers.
While you think about those around you with these great traits – what about you? Do you shine on some or all of these?