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Good to Great: Qualities of Top Performers

October 2017- by Erica Woods, Manager of Contractor and Community Relations, Principal, Cate Murray, CAPM, Practice Director – PM/BA and Sarahbeth Jones, Content & Communications Specialist

What sets top performers apart from just good employees? We took a deeper dive to understand what qualities the former group has that differentiates them in the eyes of leadership.

Here are 8 traits of top performers:

  1. They truly understand the big picture and expectations.
    Great employees have a solid understanding of their priorities, and how their actions support their team and organization. If you’re unsure of your priorities and expectations, ask your manager to outline what they want you to accomplish over certain timeframes (i.e. 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc.)

  2. They build strong relationships.
    We believe that building relationships should be part of every job description. Know the key stakeholders you’ll be engaging with, and make an effort to meet those individuals, in person if possible. Invest time to learn about them. Making this “social investment” can build trust and comradery, and positively impact your job satisfaction.

  3. They are culture contributors.
    Susan Wheelan, author of “Creating Effective Teams” notes that it takes the average team six months to become truly productive, but each individual team member can positively influence that. Getting to know your team, understanding their roles, backgrounds, goals, pain points, how they work best, etc. is a great first step. Other quick ways you can make a difference include: helping peers, providing praise, proactively sharing knowledge, sending details of beneficial events/trainings/user groups, or leading ‘lunch n’ learn’ type training sessions.

  4. They engage in Continuous Professional Improvement (CPI).
    Identify areas you can develop to further contribute to your team, manager, project, and/or organization. Adopt a “growth mindset,” and consistently revisit target improvement areas. Use a SWOT analysis as a tool for CPI, and view weaknesses as opportunities for professional growth!

  5. They seek and embrace feedback.
    There’s no such thing as a perfect employee! We all have areas we can improve upon. Don’t wait for your team lead, manager, or client to provide you feedback, especially if that’s not done periodically. Always approach them and tactfully determine feedback, using questions like “Is there anything else you’d like me to be doing? Any improvements you’d recommend? Are there other ways I could be helping with this project, our team, and/or supporting this client?”

  6. They have strong initiative and proactively help and/or provide unanticipated value.
    There are three different ways you can help others that we’ve found. First, reacting to their “call for help,” such as when a manager asks “Can anyone do this task?” Second, ask what else you can do to help. Third, give specific examples of things you can help with. Take the initiative to go above and beyond to identify additional ways you can provide value to your manager, team, and client. It won’t go unnoticed. One of our managers noted, “My top people don’t engage in any activities that don’t serve a purpose or correlate to value.”

  7. They focus on a positive attitude and are solution-oriented.
    Attitude impacts so much, including your brand, relationships, job satisfaction, and productivity. One statistic is that “positive and happy employees outperform their negative counterparts by 56%.” We all have bad days, but there are usually little things you can do to improve your mood. Remember, just because you’re having a bad day doesn’t mean anyone else has to know about it. If your sour mood shows, it will likely negatively impact the mood or energy of those around you.

  8. They are resilient and view failures and mistakes as growth opportunities.
    Mistakes are inevitable. It’s how you handle those mistakes that matter to your manager. If you get defensive, don’t take ownership, don’t take measures to right wrongs, and/or don’t learn from mistakes, that’s when it could hurt you. Always focus on the lesson learned behind the mistake and bounce back. One of our favorite quotes by Lawrence Shames is, “Success and failure…we think of them as opposites, but they’re really not. They’re companions; the hero and the sidekick.” One of our Vice Presidents always says, “You have to fail in order to learn.”

Stay tuned for more top performer tips in the coming weeks.

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