I’ve been very fortunate to work with some great people in this industry!
I’ve also worked with people who, despite having good intentions, were just not good at their jobs.
Maybe the most interesting thing I’ve learned is that being a great employee has nothing to do with being smart. There is almost no correlation. I’ve worked with plenty of geniuses who can not deliver.
But there is one commonly occurring scenario, without fail, that has always predicted whether or not someone would be great. The scenario? How a person reacts when there is no work to do.
Every not so great employee I’ve worked with shuts off whenever there is downtime. They’ll mosey around, browse the web, look busy, etc. Nothing wrong with this – there is no work to do after all.
Great employees? They make meaningful work when there’s no work to do. They’ll learn new things, explore technology, optimize existing features, or just tell their boss they’re bored. They’re intellectually curious and actively make the most of their time – nothing is passive about them!
It’s a simple test that at least for me, has never been wrong. That small difference in attitude somehow becomes significant when multiplied over a lifetime of experiences.
At the end of the day, there are many things that separate great professionals from the rest of us. But at the very least, if you find yourself turning on auto-pilot when times are slow, consider a more proactive approach to your career and learning – you don’t have to be a genius to do it!