Certain skills are important for remote work — and I covered in episode 60 of the podcast — but even more important are certain characteristics that make you a great remote employee. Not only so you can enjoy the remote work style to the max, but also because your team & entire company benefit when you bring these qualities to the table.
There are some obvious competencies like good communication, being self-directed, disciplined and adaptable, but there are 4 more that help you stand out from the crowd during the application process, help you succeed in your role, and help your company succeed in their GOAL.
I share with you the unique findings of a research study designed to discover how best to equip business students for the working reality. Which of course is the remote workforce.
In this episode we talk about:
- Why certain characteristics might be more important than hard skills
- How these characteristics help you stand out from the crowd
- The 3 essential characteristics agreed as being integral to succeeding as a remote worker
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Skills versus characteristics of a remote worker
So many people ask me what skills they need as a remote worker. Well, you need the jobs skills required by the role, just like you would any traditional co-located role. And by the way if you get confused about any of the terminology I’m using, you can head over to episode 57. Other than the ONE most important skill many remote companies agree on that we covered in the last episode, more important are your key characteristics.
Characteristics being more like a quality, trait or attribute you possess, like being a good communicator, or a self starter. They’re often the way you do things, your specific approach to your work, or the essence of how you work. They are the qualities you bring to your work and your interactions with others.
How to stand out from the crowd
Your characteristics are what will really help you stand out from the crowd.
If you can infuse them into the application process, you’re more likely to be noticed. And if you can bring them to your role and the experience you that your team will have, then you’re more likely to succeed in your role, too!
Not only will you be appreciated by your team, it has a ripple effect throughout your company; on people, projects & process. So, many remote-first companies are actively looking for signs of these characteristics in your application. Now you know!
Now, while researching for this episode — because I don’t want to just share my opinion with you, but surface the relevant research and data that’s being discovered, I found a great research study referenced through a Forbes article — both links are in the show notes — that endeavoured to answer the question: “What competencies are necessary for success as a remote worker?” And the answers were pretty interesting.
Back in episode 54 I covered the ideal traits of a remote worker:
- A knowledge worker
- Highly skilled
- Passionate about your career
- Really good at what you do
- A strong work ethic
- Highly organised
Essential Characteristics You Need
But this research also suggested a few more interesting that are critical hiring criteria for companies, to help them build a workforce that is more capable of self-management.
And of course for remote and distributed teams, a self-managing team is the holy grail. And far different from the micromanaging tendencies that saturate the traditional 9-5 office world.
It was a broad study: Respondents cited Canada (34%) and the U.S. (33%) as their home base, with 26% naming various countries in Europe as home. The other designation reflects respondents (7%) who identify home base as specifically being Mexico, Russia, Romania, Bolivia, New Zealand, and Poland. While the bulk of respondents reported to be 36-40 years of age, those 25-35 and 41-45 age group are not far behind in numbers. Across a variety of remote working arrangements, which we talked about in episode 56. And across a variety of roles within the business.
There are some obvious characteristics that make you awesome in any job, whether remote or co-located:
- Self directed/ Motivated
- Adaptable/ Flexible
But there are 4 that I want to draw your attention to, because when I read this I was nodding vigorously, these qualities have helped me a lot in my life and work personally, and surprisingly how few people have these qualities in the remote companies I’ve worked with.
You should totally read the WHOLE study for yourself, but here they are:
“Trustworthy. Being trustworthy was stated as critical by 72% of the respondents. Respondents reported that if someone is not a trustworthy person, it might be a struggle to make progress in his or her career. Discussions reflected on the thought that some people need the accountability of others to continue making progress. The weather, the surf, depression, excitement are some of the distractions that can cause misplaced priorities when an individual has already committed to an important deliverable. By consistently following through with what has been committed, an individual is demonstrating trustworthiness. For people who view commitment as restrictive, it does not mean they are not a trustworthy person, but it does mean that it will be difficult to demonstrate it through actions.”
So do you consider yourself trustworthy? When I was researching for the podcast, one person said in a Facebook group: “I wouldn’t trust myself to do the work.” erm… not an ideal remote worker!!!
2. Taking Initiative/ Curiosity
“Taking initiative/curious. This refers to an act or strategy intended to resolve a difficulty or improve a situation; eager to know or learn something. The phrase ‘the buck stops here’ rang true with many research participants. When working remotely the individual may not have ready access to a manager or co-worker to solve a problem, or provide a resource. In all likelihood, no one will be standing over a remote worker telling them next steps, or even first steps in initiating and working through a project; no micro manager to focus on the details. Being curious speaks to a desire for continued growth, never settling for status quo, seeking new and improved processes, new solutions, learning new things, and never letting oneself stagnate. This desire for continued learning was a common sentiment among participants.”
You’ve got to remember, your manager or CEO might be asleep while you’re working. So confidently making decisions about how to proceed when you have an element of uncertainty is a really useful SUPERpower!
And this is my favourite:
3. High Self-Efficacy
“High Self-efficacy. Self-efficacy speaks to having a high belief in one’s own capabilities to produce quality outcomes. A healthy self-efficacy regarding a person’s ability to produce a product or service that is of the highest quality provides a profile of an individual who has what it takes to be successful in a smart working context. Discussions clarified the distinction between self-efficacy and over confident or egotistical. Respondents recognized that an individual with high self-efficacy understands their strengths and is willing to seek help when needed without feelings of inadequacy.”
This has nothing to do with perfectionism. This has to do with being able to deliver high quality work on time DRAMA-FREE!
The 4th and final competency is:
“Accountability. Without exception, our respondents agreed that accountability at work is vital. If one is to enjoy the privileges afforded by freedom, independence, and flexibility, there must be accountability. While many 9 anecdotal responses were provided, one that reflects the sentiments of all would be “Doing what I say I will do; delivering on commitments. Making work visible and available to the rest of the team, and holding the rest of the team to their commitments as well.” The one word used by most in their responses was ‘responsibility’; being responsible for: meeting deadlines, fulfilling commitments, owning consequences, actions and decisions, achieving deliverables, success and failure.”
Doing what you say you’ll do is the most RARE trait of all! If you do this, and have evidence for this, then you’re in the top 2% of candidates.
Does this sound like you?
So, so you think you are naturally:
- Do you show initiative & curiosity?
- Have high self efficacy?
Yes, or no, you KNOW I have an awesome worksheet so you can workshop the best examples of these competencies right? And then you can pepper them throughout your application process, through your cover letters, CV, and conversations.
Head over to worksheet 9 in the podcast pack and you’ll be able to do that quickly, no drama, no procrastination, just DO-ing it.
If you don’t have a copy yet, head over here to get your copy there.
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