How to Identify Top Performers and Future Leaders

Every workforce requires the “worker bees” who show up on time, take direction well, get the job done right, and generally keep the work flowing. To grow your business, you need to identify and nurture those employees who have that little something extra. Focus on the select few who regularly go beyond the job description and exhibit creative thinking and leadership potential.
Here are a few traits that top performers have in common:
  • Quality as job one. Top performers consider quality a priority over simply getting things done. They aren’t satisfied unless your clients and customers are singing your praises.
  • Skills development. The best want to improve their skills to become even better, so they look for ways to learn and grow personally that will help them help the company grow.
  • Fearless decision-making. Natural leaders step up and make decisions when it’s necessary. They are not afraid to make a mistake in an effort to reach for innovative solutions (assuming you’ve established this freedom and trust as part of your company culture).
  • Desire for input. High performers know that to improve they need to understand what’s expected and how they are doing. Regular feedback from supervisors gives them the motivation to develop new ideas and come up with ways to help the business.
  • Self-direction. The best employees are more likely to perform their own research and spend more time on projects than average performers. They self-motivate and self-initiate new assignments and challenges. They seek out those in the organization who have the influence and the knowledge they need to achieve their goals and progress to the next level.
  • Cool under pressure. Confidence gives top performers the ability to calmly analyze situations and solve problems, even when the deadline is staring them in the face. They know when to compromise and when to stand firm.
  • Good people skills. High performers tend to have larger professional networks than average workers. They realize that “who you know” can often help advance a career. They will call on their contacts inside and outside the company for basic insights into how to approach a problem or for general support. They don’t have to be “life of the party” extroverts but they understand the value of nurturing professional relationships.

Game Plan

  • Autonomy is something top performers crave. Give your smart, motivated employees freedom to use their strengths and insights to get the job done.
  • Create a culture of continuous learning. Establish trust and then share knowledge and encourage innovative thinking.
  • Mentor your best people. Help employees grow into leaders by providing access to more experienced partners who complement their skills and personality.
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