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Imagine you could spot top performers right at the interview stage, or identify them among your teams.

They contribute a tremendous amount to your organization’s productivity and it’s vital to recognize their achievements in order to build a long relationship between them and your organization.

So how do you spot them?

Indulge me for a moment and imagine your organization as a flock of birds flying in formation. Would you all be flying in the same direction at the same speed in an efficient formation following a leader? Or would you have a few flying at different speeds, slowing the others down, or perhaps even heading off in different directions?

Your star performers are the 20% whose hard work pushes the flock forwards. Their productivity rate is around 80%. They’re always going in the right direction, make the right decisions, never cause problems and generally require little of your attention.

Those in the middle ground, your average performers, are the 60% who fly at a generally steady pace. Their productivity rate is close to 50% productivity. They show promise but seem to require your attention each and every month to keep them flying steady.

The final 20% (your low performers) operate at only a 20% productivity rate and often fly quite erratically. They take up most of your time and generally make the majority of the costly mistakes. In a flock, they’re easy to spot: they’re the ones up at the front one day, and at the back the next. As a leader you’re not quite sure whether you can completely rely on them to show up on time, at the right location, prepared for the job in hand.

In this way you can see that your star performers aren’t just doing a good job in a consistent and timely manner, they’re also contributing to your organization’s overall performance. You should make an effort to recognize who they are. They are worth protecting.

And, they’re also worth hiring. So when you’re next conducting an interview, see if you can spot any of these characteristics in your prospective employees.


Identifying top performers

  1.  Consistency: Not only do they generally complete tasks and assignments fully and on time, they have a track record of doing so consistently. They are reliable and hardworking, but aren’t necessarily the extroverts shouting about how great they are. They may be quiet achievers who just sit down and work things through
  2. They take initiative: Top performers don’t wait for an opportunity, they create one. When faced with a project, they see what steps need to be taken and work accordingly. They understand the vision of their organization and what is trying to be achieved, and don’t require micromanaging to get there (they will likely get frustrated if this is something you insist on doing). They know the end goal and how to get there, doing so for the benefit of the organization.
  3. They are team players and team leaders: Top performers know they aren’t perfect and that the strengths of their team will play together to help or achieve the organization’s goals. They work effectively with others, receive advice well and contribute to a happy, harmonious, healthy team. They pay compliments to others, don’t monopolize the spotlight and offer motivation and support when needed. They achieve a lot but ultimately believe in “we” and not “I”.
  4. Adaptable: Whether it’s a different team, a different work environment or a different project, top performers adapt well. They are often open to further study, learning new skills or incorporating new ideas or technology as well. As a result, they’re often up-to-date with industry developments.
  5. Positivity: Top performers help create a motivated, upbeat, fun, relaxed environment where everyone wants to work hard and ultimately achieve more. They are often inspiring people to with and generally very approachable. This positive outlook will help greatly in setting and achieving goals, and help make the workplace a very productive one


As an employer, what do you do to recognize your top performers? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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About the Author: This Guest Post was authored by the wonderful folk at The Jouta Performance Group – your source for all your Human Resource related questions.