Bosses Say These Are Their 6 Favorite Qualities in Employees — Do You Have Them?


If you can't get ahead at work, there's probably a reason why. You might not have the experience or educational background for a specific position — or worse, your boss may feel that you lack important qualities. (See also: 5 Things to Say to Your Boss to Get a Promotion or Raise)

Since your boss holds the key to your future with the company, it is imperative that you understand qualities employers look for in employees. This can be the difference between advancing up the corporate ladder and staying stuck in the same position.

1. Good Communication Skills

Bosses look for employees with strong communication skills — written and spoken. Being able to clearly express yourself is a major asset and can take your career to the next level.

"If you have a gift for the spoken and written word, you will always put your best foot forward. Being articulate is highly prized in today's workplace, when time is at a premium and technology requires constant communication," Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job, told

Master good communication skills and you might become the official or unofficial spokesperson for the company. You don't have to become a walking dictionary. But if your communication style needs improvement, it doesn't hurt to brush up on your English and writing skills, or take a public speaking course or workshop on your own dime.

2. Adaptability

Companies must adapt or evolve to keep pace with the times, and it's important for employees to evolve as well.

"I have found that people who are comfortable with change in general tend to be more successful," says Jennifer Dulski, President and COO at

Even if you do not understand the changes taking place in the organization, go with the flow and trust that your boss knows what she's doing. The end goal is simple — grow the company. And if the company grows, so can your income. So, don't buck the system or make it difficult for your boss. Being adaptable goes hand-in-hand with being a team player. Team players put aside their personal feelings and work for the common good of the company.

3. Honesty

Bosses have enough on their plates, and they don't have time to supervise each employee. Therefore, employers need workers who are honest and willing to follow rules and policies, even when no one's watching. An honest employee is committed from start to finish, honest in everything, and takes responsibility for his actions.

"If they can't be honest with themselves and honest with me, then we are likely going to be wasting time and not operating at our full potential. I expect all team members to express any concern that comes up so we can keep improving not only our processes, but also our morale," says Patrick Curtis, founder at

4. Hard-Working Mentality

Bosses need employees who go beyond the call of duty. Technically, you shouldn't be expected to do anything outside your job description, especially if you're not getting paid for your time. But at the same time, taking the initiative and going the extra mile speaks volumes.

Karen Rehn, owner of HH Staffing Services, brings attention to a recent employee trait survey that says "57% of managers are looking for hard working employees, those who embody work ethic and good ole hard work."

It takes hard work for a company to succeed, and most employers can't get to the top without help from diligent employees. So, your commitment to the job won't go unnoticed and it can open doors to a brighter future with the company.

5. Punctuality and Conscientiousness

From clocking in on time to meeting deadlines, it only takes one tardy or unreliable employee to get everyone off schedule. Do a self-evaluation to determine whether your punctuality needs improvement. A manager may not say anything to you, but arriving even five minutes late or turning in an assignment 15 minutes late doesn't go unnoticed. If you can't be counted on to handle seemingly insignificant tasks, how can your boss trust you with bigger responsibilities?

"If the resume has typos or the candidate is late or sloppy, you can be sure those typos will translate into frustrating quality issues on the job," says Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder, Bersin by Deloitte.

6. Leadership

Your boss might be the top dog, but he needs a few leaders on his team. No good comes from being a follower. And when bosses look to promote, they prefer applicants who aren't too impressionable. As a leader, you can motivate your co-workers or be a voice of reason during difficult situations.

"Anyone can get others to show up for work. Leaders, on the other hand, genuinely inspire people to choose to follow them — on a mission, toward a goal, or perhaps even to transform an industry," says Walt Bettinger, President and CEO of The Charles Schwab Corporation.

Are you a boss? Are there other qualities you'd like to add? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

I think critical thinking, and not just copying things, is really important too.