Loyalty remains a top trait in workplace despite some employees being burned by unscrupulous employers.

Are old-fashioned values no longer relevant in today's fast-paced Facebook driven world, or are the values instilled in us early in our lives still key to succeeding as a team member? Just what are the key personality traits employers are seeking in their staff for 2013?

Integrity and honesty

By far the most valued personality characteristic sought by employers is integrity and honesty. Andrew Maddock, chief executive officer of the Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union, believes "integrity is a foundational trait. If an employee doesn't have this, then I don't want that employee. Full stop. Integrity affects how an employee treats every stakeholder in our organisation - from their direct reports to management, customers and suppliers. It also affects how an employee makes every decision, treats every organisational asset and resource, and in whose best interests their work is done."

Chris Knox, country manager of Thiess Services, agrees. "Integrity develops trust, building a solid relationship base into the future. Good business does not happen without trust - this is a key cornerstone in any relationship and is required to build solid, mutually beneficial partnerships."



In regards to the second most valued trait in employees, Knox believes communication "is the key to bountiful relationships. Good skills in this area lead to strong success in business. All communication is one sound bite, visual image or feedback loop away from success or failure."

In my experience as a human resources consultant and corporate recruiter, communication is a key skill. Once this becomes effective, they start to develop strong and trusted relationships which will take them more quickly to that next level in their career.

However, it amazes me how many people, even those very advanced in their careers, genuinely lack the ability to communicate professionally and effectively in the work place. So many people are held back from their full potential, with this one area handicapping all other virtues they can bring to an organisation.

Motivated and positive attitude

Chris Breen, general manager of business support services for the Eastland Group in Gisborne strongly feels "motivation is the bedrock for an individual who wants to do well. It's about self-motivation that helps unleash organisational possibilities."

Maddock adds: "We need employees who push themselves and others for results. We have a role to motivate our staff, but the best come with a strong dose of self-motivation."


Having a high level of passion for what you do is always an indicator for success. I really believe the old saying "find a career you enjoy, and you will never work another day again for the rest of your life" is so true. Breen agrees. "Passion is something we want the individual to bring to a role - it becomes infectious to those around the individual concerned." Time and again studies have shown that employees engaged in tasks and responsibilities they enjoy develop better and more productive work environments.

Learning and listening

Learning and listening are closely linked. Both involve being open to new ideas and concepts, as well as understanding that other viewpoints can be beneficial and help improve productivity or drive down costs.

Garry Bell, general manager of Fit for Work in Wanaka, believes "listening underpins many things such as learning, planning, relationships, and knowledge. It frees up a person to take a second look at a new concept or idea, improving both themselves, and the wider organisation."

Loyal and faithful

Mike Marr, group general manager of Advanced Security, believes: "Loyalty is extremely important as it is a fruit of the trust that is present in the employer/employee relationship. People who are loyal tend to be loyal when they trust and respect their organisation and management."

Sadly in my experience, a large number of people are cynical towards the traits of loyalty and faithfulness in the workplace, as they have been burned by unscrupulous or uncaring employers.

As well as this, today's "X" Generation employee tends to focus more on "what's in it for me" rather than taking a more long-term view, balancing the values of loyalty and faithfulness against an extra $5000 a year in salary.

Hard working and disciplined

Like the others surveyed, Maddock believes good old-fashioned hard work is a key factor. "Hard workers will work hard even when they are not 'being watched', which requires a high standard of integrity and self-motivation." This trait of hard work also flows very strongly into the next trait on the list: "disciplined". Having hard-working and disciplined team members allows their manager to only need to provide guidance in the initial stages, letting them get on with the work at hand. This in turn frees up the employer, setting them free from "micromanaging" their team.

What about negative attributes that are positive?

Breen adds that a streak of critical thinking would be invaluable to an individual's success. "I wonder if the 'negative' trait is necessarily detrimental to one's potential success."

In my personal experience, many so called "negative" attributes can be beneficial for an organisation to move forward, however, it's how this "skill" is portrayed and managed that is the key. Having a team member provide a balanced, pragmatic and pessimistic view of a new idea, versus another employee always delivering only negative feedback to any new idea or concept that is put forward, are different situations.

As Knox says: "Your top employees are the ones who are passionate about what they do, and genuinely care about the company and people they work with."

•Tom O'Neil is an author, career specialist and managing director of CV.CO.NZ. You can email him at tom@cv.co.nz