The Ideal Employee

Over the past week I’ve seen two people doing the same job. One was terrible and didn’t give a shit, the other meticulous and overly ambitious in what he was trying to achieve.

To give you some context, they were both council employed cleaners pulling posters off traffic lights.

The first tore away what he could grab, leaving poster corners firmly taped down, the other in a trance-like state cutting away every inch of sticky tape he could find.

This got me thinking, to be great at you job, how much effort do you need to put in?

On one hand you’ve got a guy doing the bare minimum, if that, but covering probably five times the amount of ground. On the other is a bloke blowing the time budget but getting the street poles looking tip top.

Chances are they’ll both be let loose for wasting time. And fair enough too, because the ideal employee sits bang in-between these two battlers.


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They – and you, me and the other guy for that matter – need to recognise the important aspects of their job and do them well.

In this case that probably means tearing all the poster off and leaving some tape on the traffic light, but that’s beside the point. As long as you identify the essential aspects of a role, brief or project that need doing well, and do them really well, you’ll quickly become the go to poster-plucker.

If you’re a writer, always be accurate and on-time. If you’re a bartender, always be measured and clean. If you’re a designer, always be tidy and well-referenced.

Because, in any field, there are a lot of people who either take too much time doing the tit bits that don’t matter, or don’t take the time to even get the basic job done.

The most successful people in business sit in-between, doing the essential stuff very well and leaving the rest on the if-you-have-time pile. Or street pole.

Image: Chris Goldberg via Flickr