by Colleen Kettenhofen

In conducting leadership skills programs all over the world, I’ve found there are alarming similarities in what managers and supervisors say is their “ideal employee.” Here are 12 key traits they look for when hiring and promoting workers:

  1. They enjoy their jobs and make work fun.
  2. Understand what’s expected in terms of standards and results
  3. Courteous toward management as well as colleagues
  4. Friendly to customers, coworkers, managers and team leaders
  5. “Upbeat” attitude
  6. Takes a proactive approach to getting work started or completed
  7. Self-motivated
  8. Integrity, honesty
  9. Sense of humor
  10. You want to be around them
  11. Strong work ethic
  12. The job is an excellent fit with employee’s strengths

Of course, these principles are easy to understand but harder to implement. A general feeling among managers, supervisors and team leaders is that these traits are often intrinsic. It is their belief that hiring the right employee with the “right” attitude is half the battle. Unfortunately, research shows most organizations hire based on skill, knowledge or experience…and fire based on attitude or lack of interpersonal stills. Either the employee doesn’t want to do the work, or they have difficulty getting along with others. It is important that the job properly fit the employee’s strengths and even biorhythms. One supervisor commented to me that one of her employees complains about having to report for work at

7:00 a.m., yet she knew that before she was hired.

For any employees wanting to get hired or promoted, reread this list. Notice number 1 says, “they enjoy their jobs and make work fun.” The key is to find a job you enjoy, make it fun, and be pleasant to be around. In other words, hone your people skills. Make it a priority to improve your interpersonal skills. What field utilizes your strengths? Your current line of work may not be your dream job, but ask yourself, “does this job have elements of my dream job? Will it be an excellent stepping stone to what I really want to do?” If you were to win 50 million in the lottery, what would you want to do after a year of having everything you want?

What type of work would you want to do even 10 hours per week? This will provide clues. When you have a passion for what you do, you leave a lasting legacy to others.

January 24, 2005

You are free to reprint or repost this article for use in your newsletters, association publications, or intranet provided Colleen Kettenhofen’s contact information (name, website, and email) is included with the article. Colleen Kettenhofen is a Phoenix, Arizona motivational speaker, trainer, & co-author of “The Masters of Success ,” featured on NBC’s Today Show, along with Ken Blanchard and Jack Canfield. For free articles, video clips, and e-newsletter, visit Colleen’s area of expertise are leadership, managing people, life balance, difficult people, presentation skills. Colleen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions and seminars.


She can be reached at contact information listed below:

Colleen Kettenhofen

(971) 212-0479


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