As the world rapidly changes, organisations are looking for more ways to brand themselves as unique, more agile and add exceptional value to their customers. It is without a doubt that the companies and organisations that will stand the test of time will be those that hire and/or develop highly productive people.

In this post, I will be uncovering the essential 6P’s that every knowledge worker needs to know, understand and constantly be developing as we continue on this rapid change.

As competition becomes more intense and the pace of change is moving at rapid speed, organisations need to select, develop or hire employees who have much potential for the future of the organisation. Based on my own personal observations as a learning and leadership consultant, from research studies and recent books I have read, I have been able to narrow it down to 6 essential attributes that you should always be looking for in partners, team members and new employees.

  1. Principle-Centred

‘Principle-Centred’ is a term made popular by Stephen Covey from his book Principled Centred Leadership, which he wrote for an audience that was not entirely ready for it at the time it was written. However, we are now in that age where society and working environments demand that people learn to be self-governing and use their own initiatives to add value in their working environment and beyond. Hence , I believe this is the most important criteria, which is to be ‘Principle-Centred’.

What do we mean by ‘Principle-Centred?’

To be principle centred means that you live by a set of values. These values serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning.  Most people will agree on some fundamental principles. E.g. Honesty is the best policy, Integrity: do what you say you will do. Empathy: being considerate of others, and the list goes on. See my post on why company values matter here

Why is this important?

As organisations become more flexible, more autonomy is needed for the worker. When you have people that naturally live by a set of values, then you can be rest assured that they are more likely to live this way without being micromanaged.

In today’s remote working environments i.e. working from home or working flexible hours, companies that don’t hire people that are principle-centred are more likely to either put things in place that don’t convey trust, or will not see the need to provide such flexibility making themselves less attractive in the market place.

There will be some organisations that will provide flexibility but will find out that it is being abused; these companies will eventually take away the flexibility but not realise that they didn’t hire people that are principle-centred in the first place who work from a position of integrity.

We know no individual is perfect, however, being principled is a fundamental criterion because these are attitudes that are somewhat difficult to teach. For example, Southwest Airlines is well known for its exceptional customer service and one of its driving principles is ‘Empathy’. Hence, what they do in their recruitment process is to look for people that already demonstrate a high level of empathy.

This means that the organisation only needs to keep encouraging that value or principle, rather than trying to turn them into empathic people when that may not be their default behaviour. Does your organisation have clearly defined principles and strive to live by them? This will naturally attract likeminded workers.

Therefore, organisations need to have clear principles and values that they stand for and this will help attract talent that also hold to those principles and values.

  1. Personal Development

The next area is to find people who are passionate about their personal development. These are people that are hungry to learn and grow as individuals and career wise. Although this would initially seem to be just personal development in terms of career or skill, however due to work pace, amount of work and productivity demands, workers need to understand that they need to take care of the ‘whole person’.

As we continue to advance in technology, so workers need to have development plans that target the following areas of life:

Physical: eating healthy and exercising (you can find good health articles at Positive Health Wellness click here

Emotional: knowing when to rest, connect with people and knowing how to emotionally recharge.

Mental: maintaining mental alertness, updating one’s knowledge with current trends and bringing their ideas to the business

Spiritually: having a higher ‘why’ as the reason why they do what they do.

Why Is this important?

In their book, The Power of Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwarts identify the importance of managing these four areas of energy and explains why this focus beats focusing on time management. Their call is that workers have to be able to engage in the moment. If personal development isn’t taken seriously, workers will show up exhausted and will be highly prone to sickness and burn out.

Employees that are not proactively personally developing their skills eventually find themselves ‘winging it’, even if they get promoted to higher job levels. As much as Learning and Development departments will play their part in offering training, the future learner must realise that opportunities to learn are all around them.

How to spot a passionate learner

Personal Development in the area of work should be easy to observe: Do they proactively pursue Mentors and Coaches? Are they eager to find someone that is really good at the job and observe them? What books have they read recently? What Conferences and seminars they have attended? Are they aware of their strengths?

This again is vital because growth is not automatic and in today’s knowledge worker environment, each person’s competitive advantage is their ability to have the required competence and commitment to do the relevant job at hand. Because we are in such a fast-paced world, our ability to keep up to date with the relevant research, technology and insights is fundamental for the success of any organisation. Hence the person that takes personal development seriously is more likely to be productive.

  1. Purpose

The discussion around purpose has been going on for a long time, however, organisations are becoming more aware of the importance of having a clear purpose statement. In a study conducted by Harvard Business Review and EY, titled The Business Case for Purpose’, it became obvious that businesses with a clear purpose usually experience greater profits.

Since organisations are inevitably made up of individuals, then it makes much sense for an organisation to find and nurture people that already have a purpose or a ‘why’. Simon Sinek, in his TED Talk and book Start with Why’, talks about how “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. This same idea should go down to every employee that works for the organisation; that they each have a clear ‘why’.  We know now from various research studies that those entering the work force are not just interested in the financial reward but are looking to make a difference.  This means that it is essential for companies to be clear on their purpose as this would make it easy to attract talented employees who are also clear on their purpose and therefore want to contribute and play their role in helping to achieve it. (Read my post on Vision Statement here)

Why is this important?

People that are going to work for a higher purpose will naturally be more engaged and will tend to offer discretionary effort in their day-to-day jobs.

When an employee is doing work that is connected to a passion or an outcome that is more than just the salary, research shows that they are more loyal, see their contribution as rewarding and bring their whole selves to the business. Although this is not always discovered immediately, however, according to Aubrey Daniel’s in his book ‘The Measure of Leadership’, it is the role of the CEO and Senior Management to keep helping the staff to connect what they do to the overall company’s purpose.  Some people, especially younger staff, discover their purpose within their job function this way.

Purpose might not always be clear for an employee at the beginning or at different junctions of their career, however, organisations can create conducive environments which helps their staff have clarity around purpose in general which, in turn, does help employees find their personal purpose.

  1. Priorities

Everyone seems to be busy and not have enough time. In today’s work environment, workers need to have the skill to keep their priorities in focus and constantly work on them. When a person knows what is important to them, it will show up in how they spend their time.

Priorities should matter to an organisation and so hiring people that have clear priorities becomes another important criterion. If they have a clear purpose, then it makes sense that they should prioritise in moments of choice to do the right thing.

Priorities also signify a person’s integrity and commitment. Can they demonstrate from their past experience that they have been committed to something? Do they have a method of how to keep the right things at the forefront of their mind? Can they stay with a few things or do they do the opposite and dance to everyone’s tune?

Time management has become one of the most requested development areas for many employees, however, what those that are productive and effective realise is that you have to know what is most important to your customer, company, department, and manager that moves the organisation in the direction of its purpose and focus on those things. Lack of this leads to less productivity and chaos.

Why is this important?

The combination of being principle-centred and having a clear purpose leads naturally to having people that can help the organisation stay with its primary purpose. As we all are aware, so many changes take place in our organisations today, internally and externally. Having people keep the company on track will only happen when the vast majority of employees constantly challenge themselves and the organisation at large to stay on track with its fundamental purpose and therefore prioritise what matters most. With this in mind, time management takes care of itself when the focus is clear.

  1. Productivity

We are now living in an age where it is so easy to be busy but not productive. Finding productive people might be more challenging in today’s world because unfortunately, many people merely say they are effective and productive, however, there are ways to identify productive people. What impact have they had on others? This is always a key indicator.

Brad Smart, author of the Book Top Grading advocates that finding out about peoples past accomplishments is one of the most effective ways to check on a person’s productivity.

Highly productive people tend to have all the essential attributes mentioned above and therefore have routines around how they make things happen.  Scott Belsky in his book Making Ideas Happen, gives great insight after interviewing several highly productive individuals and realised that each person had a routine that ensured that they were able to produce their craft on a regular basis. (More will be written about this in future posts)

Why does this matter?

We are now in an age where the word ‘agile’ seems to be the norm – Productivity is now about the speed of being able to iterate your service and product towards your customer’s needs.  Organisations of the future are going to need people that have the right productivity mindset and are also flexible in how they go about getting results.

  1. People

It goes without saying that in order to survive in today’s world, you need to be a people person. Not all of us are wired the same way, but your ability to get along with people will surely have a huge impact on your career success. Understanding people is a much-needed skill in every role since it involves influencing and persuading skills.

This is always a lifelong task as the more people we meet, the more we need to be flexible and open to other people’s views. As a person develops, or if the person is already in management, you will find that their ability to work through these individuals will determine their success, hence they must be able to show some good people skills. i.e. being socially aware and the ability to flex their approach to different individuals.

A person who has the ability to get along with diverse personalities is more likely to be successful and is more likely to influence and gain buy-in from others.  Organisations need to ensure that they hire the right people who have the right values and attitude. As the saying usually goes, ‘you can hire for attitude and train to skill’.

Why Does this matter?

Similar to what has already been mentioned, people want to do business with those whom they like, know and trust. This is not only an external requirement for sales people, but is a requirement for all staff since more organisations are seeing the need to eliminate silos of teams.

As General Stanley McChrystal writes in his book Team of Teams, “more organisations are going to see the need to collaborate both from within and from outside and being a people person is going to become essential for every organisation because a person’s experience of a company or brand is their connection or lack of connection with the person that they have been in contact with”.

And with Companies now taking regular surveys e.g. NPS or ENPS scores, business owners and managers are going to see that their ability to relate and connect to their people will impact these scores hence this is an area that needs to be taken very seriously.

(More posts to come under this topic also)


It is without a doubt that the essential 6P’s will play a key role in how we access High Producing employees, entrepreneurs and leaders now and in the future. The good news is that even if you don’t think you have each area covered you can learn.  As a learning & development professional, I can reassure anyone one reading this that the research in learning is overwhelmingly certain that humans can learn and develop almost any area as long as they are intentional.

I will be writing more blog posts digging much deeper into each area moving forward.

What are your thoughts on the essential 6P’s?

  1. Principle-Centred
  2. Personal Development
  3. Purpose,
  4. Priorities
  5. Productivity
  6. People

Your comments will be much appreciated.