Alchemical Thoughts

List of valuable employee traits

Posted on: October 4, 2007

Here is another one of those lists I want to remember. I believe that any business, and this includes libraries, should value their employees. That line about our employees are our best asset? Very true in my view. If only more libraries would actually believe and act upon that when it comes to their librarians and staff, things would be better. The list of valuable employee traits comes from an article written by Christine Harkness entitled "SCORE Column: Employees Are Most Valuable Resource." Though the focal point of the article is the list itself, Ms. Harkness adds a few other important points in her column. For me, I think that this list could make a good tool to do those performance appraisals a lot of us have to do once in a while. If your workers show these traits, they should be fine. If nothing else, it may make the annual ritual of evaluation, which is often pointless (since there is often no follow-up, and it is pretty much something you do once a year and goes in some file), a bit more meaningful (if you do follow-up as well).

Some of the list items include:

  • "Admits to and seeks help with problems." My father was an industrial salesman for many years, and he taught me a simple lesson. He would tell me stories of how he had to deal with engineers and chemists and so on in supplying their needs for parts and industrial hardware. He did not know everything in those fields. So, how did he solve for that? Simple: he asked when he did not know. And people were usually happy to answer. This also goes with another point on the list:
  • "Communicates and listens." My father communicated, and he always listened. I think this was crucial in his line of work. It certainly is crucial in my line of work now as a reference librarian and educator.
  • "Is able to have fun and laugh together." I think this is self-explanatory. You should be able to have some fun and laugh together every once in a while. This not only makes for a better workplace, it may as well help your team bond better.
  • "Inherent sense of right and wrong." This is a big issue for me. Good employees should have a sense of right and wrong. They should have a sense of common decency and ethical values. And no, this has nothing to do with the idea of "values" as certain religions tend to spout. It is simply being a decent and honest human being. This also goes along with the next point:
  • "Respect for others." This was a lesson I learned both at home and when I was in the Boy Scouts. I believe people are entitled to some basic respect. Can you lose respect for someone? You sure can, and people do all sorts of actions that would make me lose respect for them. But you should at least start from a common ground of some basic respect and dignity.

The rest of the list is worth a look as well. Ms. Harkness also makes the point that this includes the management as well. The managers are part of the work team, and they should embody these traits as well. Overall, there is some food for thought here.

A hat tip to the blog Libraries and Librarians Rock.

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October 2007
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