You want to be a top performer. You want top performers in your team. We’re going to take a dive into Rich Tanksley’s (of Pulse.ng) advice on the 8 characteristics that identify a top performer employee, and how to be one. Learn how to find and keep quality employees in your startup.
Before we talk about the 8 things top performers have in common, why should you be a top performer?
I understand the blue ocean concept of universal abundance (and I agree it’s true), but in many cases, we are consistently in some kind of competition. Competing for limited jobs, competing in class for the best grades, competing with other similar businesses for customers’ attention, competing for fuel.
So there’s a constant expectation to perform better than the competition. Of course, you can get away with being OK, being normal, but it’s high performers who always get you wondering how they did it. What are the qualities or characteristics that make up a high performing employee?
1. High Performers always get the job done
According to Rich, this is the most important quality about a high performing employee. Everyone loves someone they can hand a job to and go to sleep. Every boss loves a high performer.
Every employer loves someone they can hand a job to and go to sleep
2. High Performers can live with minimal direction
This is not about putting “ability to work with minimal supervision” in your CV. Lord knows where those template words come from. It’s a fancy description, but it’s only true for the high performer.
“For example, if I gave someone the task to go open a new branch of my business in a new country, and he comes back to ask me the most basic of questions every single step of the way, the job will still get done – that’s a normal guy, not a high performer.” A top performer knows how to use all the available resources to get stuff done. She will Google it, ask people, stalk people, go out there and just get it done.
This is not about putting “ability to work with minimal supervision” in your CV
Don’t get it wrong, high performers do ask questions, but only when they have tried different tactics but the solution eludes them merely because there’s one missing piece that the boss could now help with. When she asks questions, they’re high level, not basic.
3. High Performers take initiative
A high performer doesn’t need super-detailed step-by-step instructions, she has ideas on how to do things better and faster. If you have a high performer on your team and you rigidly emphasize the need to do things the traditionally way, be certain she’s looking elsewhere for an environment that fits her better. You’re not good enough for her.
She follows guidelines, but just like you, she understands they were placed there by other people and the rules are open for questioning and adjustment from time to time. If you’ve been able to consistently figure out how your boss can do something better or more efficiently before being asked to do it, you might be a high performer.
4. High Performers feed on feedback for lunch
High performers love feedback. They know they will do well most times, so they don’t mind those negative feedback whenever they come in. “Your work isn’t always gonna be awesome, ask your boss, ‘Is there something I can do to improve?’”
Even when the feedback doesn’t come in an all-so-sexy way, try not get too affected and focus on what the main point of the feedback is.
Your work isn’t always gonna be awesome, ask your boss, ‘Is there something I can do to improve?
5. High Performers get along with people well
Take a count of the most successful people where you work. Are they always the best skilled at what they do? Not necessarily. Are they the ones who know how best to work with people? Do they know how to get along with people a lot? Most likely, yes. High performers know how to do that too.
6. High Performers are open-minded
High performers are open minded. They are able to interact with people, irrespective of who they are, where they come from, their background, their sexual orientation, skin color – even if they are not exactly fond of the other person. They don’t let stereotypes get in the way of work. If you’re an ex-convict gay albino hooked on meth, you support religious and political groups I don’t approve of, you have what I consider to be bad breath, you carry too much hair, and you’re from a tribe that’s been connected with cannibalism; when it comes to work none of those should matter.
7. High Performers find a way anyway
A high performer is an excellent problem solver. She knows how to get around obstacles, anyway. She knows that problems must show up so she looks forward to what shape the next problem will take. She will find a way around it anyway.
8. High Performers understand limitations
High performers are fantastic people. But they can’t do everything by themselves. And they know this. They ask for help when they’re stuck. They take advantage of resources around them. They know that if they can’t tackle a problem at this time, they can try again when they’re stronger in the future.
High Performers…ask for help. They know that if they can’t tackle a problem at this time, they can try again when they’re stronger in the future.
Seun is great at Search Marketing and Web Analytics. He’s mostly working on digital marketing, SEO training, product management and humor with startup businesses that have Africa close at heart.