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What Makes a Truly Great Employee?

While most managers would say their teams are made up of hard-working employees (for the most part at least), there are some employees who tend to rise above the rest. They not only do good work, but they also demonstrate certain qualities that make them an ideal employee in the eyes of their boss.

Every manager has a different idea of what it takes to be a truly great employee, so we asked company managers and leaders to share with us who their best employee is (or was) and why.

Here’s what they had to say:

The employee who never stops learning

“The best employee I’ve ever had working under me stood out because of her dedication not only to the job, but also to learning more about our field. The digital marketing space is constantly evolving, and she was always reading industry publications and staying up-to-date on new changes. Her passion for her job and her willingness to continually learn and improve on her own was a huge help to me and freed up a lot of time that would have otherwise been spent managing.” – Brian Stumbaugh, digital marketing manager, Barefoot Solutions 

The employee who goes above and beyond

“[My best employee] always went above and beyond. If she was going to train a certain team of new hires, she took the time (often her own) to fully learn her job, immersing herself in the work and working side by side with them. This built credibility for her with leaders and new hires alike. She was never too good to roll up her sleeves.” – Laurie D Battaglia, CEO, Living the Dream Coaches

The employee who is invested in career growth

“What makes my employee the absolute best is the willingness to take full ownership of his or her career development and growth. When you have someone who is invested in their career, the projects, work assignments and performance metrics will all align and be in great shape.” – Wesley Cherisien, regional manager, talent development, Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation

The employee with an entrepreneurial spirit

“There are plenty of people out there who will show up at 9, leave at 4:59 every day, do exactly what is asked of them and nothing more. What I always enjoyed are people who take the initiative to learn about the business as whole, give strategic thoughts, and do what it takes to get a task done regardless if it’s exactly in their job description. A person like that becomes a leader with the rest of the team. They also help to create a cohesive staff, and when everyone is working toward a common goal the morale in the office is much better.” – Bill Fish, president,

The employee who takes initiative

“The best employees are those that don’t need to be managed. As a leader you are able to set a direction with desired outcomes, and they have the skill set to get it done better than you could yourself. They are dependable, show genuine pride in their work, and take initiative without being asked. You never have to micromanage these people, you establish a direction, coach, remove roadblocks, and get out of their way.” – Greg Spillane, chief operating officer,

The employee who takes pride in where she works

“My former assistant was the best employee ever. She worked with me for six years and contributed so much value to the growth of my company in the early stages. Her dedication to excellence and ability to lead others to help build the team was invaluable to me. As a result, we grew internationally, all because she thought of the company as her own, rather than just a job.” – Carol Sankar, leadership expert,

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