In your opinion, what makes a successful employee?

ryansmith profile image Ryan Smith ・1 min read

I'm wondering if there are common themes at companies or if it varies drastically. What are the most successful people at your company great at?

It could be:

  • Technical skills
  • Speaking
  • Written communication
  • Problem solving
  • Collaboration skills
  • Creativity
  • Task efficiency
  • Number of hours worked
  • Something else?

Let everyone know your thoughts below!


markdown guide

Someone once told me that if you want to do well, behave in a way that makes your boss's job easier. A bit open ended but this advice has definitely affected the way I work.

(I realize one could fairly easily reply poking holes in this advice and call it "bad" - but if you practice this in a balanced way I think this is good advice overall)


Yes! I always say "make it easy for someone else to say yes." Get their approval by showing that you have done the work. Try not to add more work to that person's plate with vague "what-ifs" that may or may not need to be addressed, confirm the problem and present a plan to address it, you will have more success.


Problem solving

In addition to "problem solving", an underrated skill is "problem finding", where you are able to identify a problem that needs solving and then you go solve it. Understanding what is a problem and being able to connect that to a solution is a combination of many of these skills but also requires a lot of pride in one's work.


Tfw you're good at finding problems but not always solving them


Thank G-d I'm not a full-time QA. Haha!


That's a good one! If the way things were done or have always been done is causing more problems, it is a great skill to be able to identify that and make it better for everyone.

I'd also add when to not solve an issue that was identified. If there is code that is considered "bad" by objective measures, but works and isn't costing any development time to support it, leave it alone.


Desire to learn. It usually comes with a perfectionist mindset that pushes the person to always do better next time and to learn from their mistakes. It also brings along a willingness to accept changes openly and be excited about new tech (or even old tech).


For sure! Always looking for ways to be better is a great quality.


For me, it comes down to reliability across different skills.

  • If assigned a task, will it be solved?
  • Will the technical solution be simple, easy to understand, tested, and documented?
  • If they have questions, will they communicate those effectively, make good use of the other person's time, and use those answers to keep moving forward?
  • If they are collaborating, will they do their homework and be prepared to actively participate in the meeting?
  • If they come across a problem, will they provide reasonable solutions to consider?
  • If they are confident that their solution is the way to go and that it won't negatively impact the team, or isn't a huge departure from current practices, will they move forward and implement it on their own?
  • If they are unsure and need a second opinion, will they reach out and provide the right amount of background information?
  • If they have an idea for improvement that is a bigger process change, will they know how to communicate it and follow through on it?
  • If I send them a message, will they see it and respond?

One who is happy in their work. A person with a lot of capability can still languish when they are not fulfilled in what they are doing. And likewise, a person whom you might view as having a weak skillset can flourish in the right position.

What's really weird to me is that people who are really bitter about their position often still fight to hold on to it.


Yup, a happy employee is a productive one. It can be very demotivating and affect performance when the environment is working against them.


If I had to break it down I would say:

Creativity, Communication, the drive to move with the flow and a feel for the pain of others.

Creativity: Besides the technical aspect, finding and solving problems is imho a combination of understanding technical aspects, behaviour of a system based on its environment and the understanding of how the problem could be reconstructed and how to solve it. The latter is sometimes a bit difficult because, you might trap yourself in some kind of thought / solution without letting it go for a moment to think about or check out other ways.

Communication: The more I am working in this field it seems to be a core problem. People might not think about the importance of having a good talk. Being clear about domain-specific terms, minimizing misunderstanding or the inexperience in some kind of process of another field of profession. Not every problem is a computer sciency one where you are solving problems of our craft. Mostly its a software with business cases and you might not be good in everything necessary to handle the project. May it be the domain or you are unfamiliar with some technology or not highly skilled in UX design. We are working with different people and different teams and how should others understand our problems or answer our questions, if we can't communicate them properly?

The drive to move with the flow: That's a rather generic one. What I mean by that is that if you happen to switch jobs or because of some other reason there is a change of how you work or what you work with, you need to be able to adapt to it. Nothing is perfect. Not a certain development process or your favorite programming language or framework. But we are developing software together, so we need to compromise at some points. That does not mean, that you can't have a hearty discussion about what framework/language would be most suitable to do the job, but at the end of the day we are all sailing the same boat.

Another point is, that imho it is important to stay a bit up to date. You don't need to follow every news, but I know people that are tech skill speaking in the 90s and are heavily defending We always did it like that, which is in our craft a painful discussion to have, because we constantly reiterate practices and the state of the art of our profession. Being open minded and know a bit about what is happening outside of your office, might be better terms for what I am trying to say.

Feel the pain of others: Being able to understand the problems of others. Might they be teammates, colleagues from another team or stakeholders. Helping others (with their problems or by developing a solution for a use case of your customer) is based on understanding what they are trying to achieve and why. The how do they want to achieve depends on the project. Some stakeholders might not be able to answer that part properly, but we can help them try to find an answer for that. I guess some of us love to develop software for the sake of developing (I count myself to that set of people), but what we are doing, be it open source or in a business, should be something that moves our society onwards. Be it a product that is generating revenue to your company or a project that is helping others. Dev.to might be something I would consider the letter. Being able to share such thoughts on a platform that provides a friendly and open community. :)


The most successful employees I've noticed aren't the highest performers or "smartest", the best are the ones who actually care about the people. The customers, yes. But mostly their coworkers and management. They take the time to get to know someone, have genuine empathy for their workload, personal struggles and goals. Nothing is worse for a company, in my experience, than having folks who are only looking out for themselves. That will eat the culture from within.


People who are genuinely excited about the work they will be doing will make great employees. Those types of people can typically see the greater meaning of things. Also having pride in doing good work is important; it's not cool to not care about the quality of your work.


In my experience a very import trait, that is often overlooked, in a good employee is ability to communicate clearly and with sympathy for others. Be it teaching a new hire, or describing a problem to the team or presenting a technical solution. People who are clear in their communication make life easier for themselves and others around them.


Desire to learn
and Integrity


Integrity is an important quality I believe... what you people say


Take responsibility/ownership of the work and company goals.
(Even if you are not a manager/leader)

Then worry about the rest from there.

Your leaders will love you.