10 Characteristics of High Performers

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The best asset every successful company has is high performers. If a massive chunk of your workforce consists of high performers, expect 400 percent more productivity than average employees. 

Star employees stay with your company for as long as they want if their needs are also met. For instance, high performers look for competitive compensation, bonuses, rewards, retirement plans, flexibility, healthcare, workplace amenities, and recognition from their superiors. 

Once you spot top performers, consider them as your best asset and keep them. If you’re struggling to pinpoint your best people, here are 10 characteristics you must look for.

1. Goal-oriented

high performers

High-performing employees are laser-focused on their goals. During the onboarding process and on every regular evaluation, they jot down their short-term and long-term goals. This way, they don’t get sidetracked once they start to climb up the corporate ladder. Also, being goal-oriented means they’re always reaching for the stars. They leave no stone unturned to complete a task satisfactorily. 

This also makes them crave more knowledge. They are lifelong learners who are willing to expand their skills by enrolling in courses and attending regular training programs. That said, offer them benefits to hone their skills even more. Pay for courses or training for self-improvement. This might cost you a meager amount but will give your company a sevenfold return in the long run. 

2. Excellent communication skills

high performers

Communication is an integral part of a business. Companies and leaders that don’t encourage communication in the workplace may push employees to disengage. As you know, disengaged employees may cost companies and organizations a 450-billion dollar loss per year. And you probably wouldn’t want to be in the red when it comes to calculating your annual revenue. 

Employees only communicate when they feel comfortable and when the higher-ups also encourage them to speak up. And when you do, look for people who are straightforward in their communication style. Top performers don’t like to waste time. Moreover, they also practice active listening and have all the proper responses and reactions to every conversation. 

3. Competent

High performers are always looking for growth opportunities. And when they’re eyeing promotions or pay raises, they ensure competence is on the top list. It’s easy to spot star employees if you have key performance indicators set in place to measure their progress. 

You can’t just measure top performers’ skills through subjective judgment. It has to be based on objective reasoning and accurate data. So during the onboarding process, ensure that you discuss the key performance indicators, so employees will know what they’re aiming for. Then, rate employees on a scale of one to three based on the metrics they meet regularly. 

4. Reliable

High performers show up to work and churn in as much work as they can. It doesn’t mean they’re the last to leave the office, but they make sure they get the job done before the day is over. Reliability is one crucial characteristic in top-performing employees. Leaders must be able to assign a task and never have to follow up on completion. 

Reliable employees mean they’re on time for work every day. They show up when superiors need them for meetings and project discussions. And most importantly, they take task delegation seriously. If employees can’t be relied upon with small tasks, then don’t expect them to perform for bigger projects. 

5. Risk-takers

You can describe employees in two ways when it comes to handling risks: Risk-taker or risk-averse. Naturally, you want to look for the former instead of the latter. Risk-takers exude high levels of curiosity, which can lead to creative and limitless ideas and possibilities. In addition, risk-takers also achieve excellent results, provided that you support them in whatever they do. 

Although you want to keep your employees balanced, you want to nurture natural risk-takers. Here’s why:

  • They think out of the box
  • They provide boundless creativity
  • They are natural high-achievers

6. Open-minded

Top performers are always looking for professional growth. As you know, there is no growth in mundane and recurring tasks. High performers are always up for a new challenge, so they’re ecstatic when assigned new assignments. They’re always craving new knowledge and learning. In addition, they don’t close their doors to the possibility of learning new things from others. 

It doesn’t matter if the person is a subordinate. High flyers consider learning the craft from others. Plus, they look up to people in the same niche and consistently read on whatever they can to update their skills. Finally, they always look for opportunities to grow when tasked with new projects. When it means new projects will get them out of their comfort zone, then they’ll roll up their sleeves and get working. 

7. Good people skills

When looking for high performers, don’t only look for hard skills. You may also want to consider soft skills such as interpersonal skills or people skills. You must understand that high performers would consider doing everything they can to achieve their goals. And that includes getting help from “people they know” inside and outside the company. 

Here are some people skills most top performers possess:

  • Ability to relate to others
  • Communication skills
  • Patience with others
  • Ability to trust others
  • Ability to empathize 
  • Active listening skills
  • Genuine interest in others
  • Flexibility
  • Good judgment
  • Negotiation skills
  • Persuasion skills
  • Honesty
  • Sense of humor
  • Proactive in problem-solving
  • Leadership skills
  • Good manners
  • Ability to support and motivate others

That goes without saying, high flyers relatively have a more extensive professional network than average employees. This is because they believe in fostering professional relationships, which means they know a lot of people. Also, since they take good care of professional relationships, you can expect most people in their network have an affinity towards high performers. 

8. Confident decision-making

You can possess ordinary decision-making skills, but you can also be fearless in your decision-making. Being more bold and confident in making decisions is one trait of a high performer. Just like natural-born leaders, these high performers step up whenever a huge decision needs to be made. But of course, most of these decisions are time-sensitive and well-informed. 

Being more confident in making decisions also means that decision-makers reduce anxiety and stress at the workplace. And when the outcome of the decision fails, the decision-maker holds accountability for it. They don’t try to pass on the blame to others. Fearless decision-making means your employee isn’t afraid to make mistakes just to achieve more creative and innovative ideas. 

Here are some steps on how to become a more fearless decision-maker:

  • Identify the decision
  • Gather information
  • Identify the alternatives
  • Weigh the evidence
  • Choose among the alternatives
  • Take action 
  • Review your decision

9. Optimistic

High performers possess a “can do” attitude. They’re always positive the moment they go in and out of the office day in and day out. When tasked with a difficult assignment, top performers appreciate the opportunity to grow and learn from the experience. 

They likely won’t think about any task as being too hard or unachievable. On the contrary, top employees will try their best to complete the task and reach the goal. And they’re optimistic throughout the journey, inspiring others to have a more positive outlook as well. 

10. Receptive to feedback

Top-performing employees would always want to evaluate their progress and career. This means they might want to meet with their superiors regularly to discuss their performance. According to Harvard Business Review, 50 percent of top performers expect a regular meeting with their manager once a month. 

That being said, high performers look forward to constructive criticism. They embrace feedback as if it’s a stepping stone to more opportunities and getting better at work. Top employees would prefer receiving feedback about their performance instead of guessing if they’re on the right track or not.

Conclusion

Once you identify your high-performing employees, do everything on your end to meet their needs. Sometimes it’s not just the monetary benefits that make them stay. It’s the overall culture and support they get from the company and the management that give them satisfaction. Having a solid company foundation that emanates throughout the office walls prevents both top and average employees from jumping ship.

If you manage to nurture and satiate your top-performing employees, your organization can be unbreakable. So try to hire more of these types of people and always give praise and recognition when necessary. This way, your employees feel that they’re valuable and indispensable. 

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