The top traits employees need to succeed in the digital economy

The Wall Street Journal has a great interview with two technology industry experts about what enterprises need to do to find and keep the best employees.

Bottom line? Create an environment that instills a sense of pride in workers and encourages entrepreneurial behavior.

Let’s flip the question, though: What should enterprises be looking for in the “best” workers?

Skills and the ability to get things done, for sure. But the most valuable workers in today’s economy also possess character traits and mindsets that align with how the most effective digital enterprises operate.

Both Lori Goler, global head of people at Facebook, and Juliet de Baubigny, a senior partner at Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, make this point in different ways.

For example, Goler says that Facebook is “looking for builders. We’re looking for people who can look at any situation and think, ‘That works pretty well. I bet it can be even better, and I have a vision for how to make it better.’”

What’s she’s describing is personal initiative and out-of-the-box thinking, two characteristics that are essential to spurring positive change and can be perpetually leveraged by the enterprise (well, as long as they can hang on to those valuable workers).

A similar trait that de Baubigny references, specifically in terms of what start-ups need from employees, is “mental agility.”

“Because you’re in an environment where everything is sort of at a precarious point, whether it’s product development, financing, distribution or management. So, being able, so mentally agile, to be able to flip between those different functional sectors, and then to be able to have some good perspective,” she says.

She’s describing the capacity to have a big-picture view of the enterprise’s mission and a willingness to go beyond a job’s specific responsibilities to do what it takes to help meet strategic and operational goals. Both of these traits would benefit all but the most inflexible large-enterprise environments.

I’ll add one more to the list: Enterprises need employees who can adapt and flourish in an environment where change is ongoing.

A lot of people resist change, but in the digital economy change isn’t just constant, it’s necessary. The best employees not only can thrive amid perpetual change, they themselves are change agents.

What other traits make employees valuable in the digital economy?


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