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12 Signs You Are a High Performer at Work

What defines a top performer? Learn how to recognize outstanding employees in your workplace, find out if you rank among the best employees, and explore ways to elevate yourself to top-performer status.

12 Signs You Are a High Performer at Work

High performers are people who reach their goals and are invaluable to the businesses they work for. They are viewed as responsible, reliable, and talented. High-performing employees also tend to possess certain characteristics that set them apart from other workers. It is an excellent idea to determine these traits to evaluate whether you are a high performer at work and, if not, how to become one.

To be at the top of your game, working on self-growth and development is important. The Headway app provides users with daily insights, challenges, visual explainers, and 15-minute book summaries to learn key information in small chunks. There is no more reason to let life disrupt your learning, so download the Headway app today and learn on the go!

This article considers what a high performer is, the signs of a high performer, and tips on how to improve your workplace performance. 

Key points 

  • A high performer is a person who goes above their port of call at work to meet goals and complete tasks. They are considered productive, reliable, dependable, and invaluable to workplaces. 

  • Signs you are a high performer at work include high productivity, a strong skill set, and establishing a good work-life balance. 

  • Tips for improving workplace performance include self-evaluating, keeping your workplace organized, and rewarding yourself when reaching goals.

What is the definition of a high performer? 

In a nutshell, high performers go above their port of call to meet their goals and complete work tasks. Top-performing employees take the initiative to assist their company by improving their behavior and habits. They go beyond what their role requires and regularly take on more leadership and work tasks. High performers also think of their co-workers and are productive, reliable, dependable, and have an overall positive attitude

Here are examples of other key traits that are associated with high-performing employees:

  • competent and constructive communication skills;

  • ability to self-direct;

  • adaptability in a changing environment;

  • strong drive;

  • surpasses expectations;

  • impressive problem-solving skills, beneficial for maintaining a positive company culture.

12 signs of a high-performance employee 

1. Highly productive 

A key trait of a top performer is high productivity levels, often measured through various metrics such as task completion rate and efficiency. This is often helped by strong problem-solving, time management, and organization skills. These all contribute to better productivity. High productivity means that work is completed efficiently and every minute is utilized well. High-performing employees take on board all the information they have learned and use it to get work done fast and to a high standard. 

Interestingly, a 2012 study published in Personnel Psychology found that top performers tend to be 400% more productive than the average worker! Productivity is a mindset you can learn with a little knowledge and practice.

Top tip: Some great ways to improve your productivity is to reduce workplace distractions, improve your skills, and set small goals.

2. Strong leadership and people skills

how to be a top performer at work

Strong leadership skills are often found in high performers as they can act like leaders and work well with the team using their knowledge and skills. They are confident, outspoken, and an active team member. Top performers are also keen to help other team members when needed. They do not necessarily have to be in a leadership role, but they act like leaders, can direct co-workers, and meet all their commitments efficiently. Those with strong leadership skills are more likely to volunteer to manage a project. Having someone like this on the work team can encourage other employees to maximize their performance.

Top performers also tend to have excellent people skills. They often have a bigger professional network than most and use it to gain insights and advice. High performers are not necessarily extroverted but appreciate the importance of fostering professional connections.

Top tip: Why not explore book recommendations from Bill Gates, one of the world’s greatest leaders?

3. Respect for all other co-workers 

Respect is a key characteristic displayed by high performers. High-performing employees are respectful and considerate to all other co-workers and do not discriminate against anyone.

Below are a few ways that you can show respect at work and enhance your role as a team player:

  • Paying close attention when others are speaking, demonstrating your commitment to teamwork;

  • Letting everyone speak and be listened to in meetings, fostering a collaborative environment;

  • Speaking politely to all team members;

  • Acknowledging other employees' contributions, which supports a team-oriented atmosphere;

  • Giving co-workers a boost through friendliness and enthusiasm, helping to build a positive team spirit.

4. Positive outlook

High performers tend to be very positive. This is a great skill, as positivity can spread through the workplace and invigorate other team members to greater satisfaction and happiness. Positive workers often:

  • encourage co-workers to be optimistic;

  • help co-workers having difficulties;

  • work toward resolving challenges;

  • smile at other workers;

  • use positive language.

Top performers understand that attitude has a big effect on the surrounding environment, so by being positive, the rest of the team gets a boost and starts to feel more optimistic.

5. Good understanding of strengths and flaws

Another sign of a high performer is a good awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. While they may accept new responsibilities and assignments, they know when to say no. For instance, if there were a big report to write with a two-day deadline, they would unlikely accept other tasks as they know it will interfere with the current task. Top performers are aware of their limitations and should be confident in politely turning down extra responsibilities if they affect their current work.

It is rare to find a jack of all trades, and the best employees will generally have areas in which they are more experienced and knowledgeable than others. They are unafraid to turn down a task if they feel it could be completed better by somebody else with greater skill (but will also work towards improving their own capabilities).

6. Take on challenging work and stay cool under pressure

signs you are a top performer at work

Many people may be nervous about accepting difficult tasks, but high-performance employees are regularly happy to take them on. They put strong and consistent effort into all their assignments and are unafraid of stepping up and accepting challenging work and difficult new assignments.

Another common behavior of good performers, particularly those with high potential for leadership positions, is staying cool under pressure. They might even perform better under these conditions and produce exceptional work within the deadline. This coolness is usually due to confidence and the ability to evaluate various aspects calmly and resolve any issues.

Their ability to thrive in stressful situations not only highlights their capability but also marks them as ideal candidates for future leadership roles. They are often eager to accept another task as soon as the current one has been completed, demonstrating their readiness to take on greater responsibilities.

7. Give maximum effort consistently

Becoming a high performer requires hard work and commitment. High performers are known for being diligent and doing whatever it takes to succeed. For instance, a top performer may be willing to pursue further education to move up the career ladder or engage in continuous learning to stay ahead of industry trends and maintain a competitive edge.

They often take advantage of training opportunities, attend workshops, and seek out mentorship to expand their knowledge base and skills. This dedication to lifelong learning not only enhances their current performance but also prepares them for future challenges and opportunities in their career.

Strong performers put in impressive work performances every week and are seen as dependable and consistent. Workers who put in maximum effort consistently are a great advantage to any team.

8. Possess a strong skill set

High performers at work have a strong skill set. They will have great subject expertise and technical know-how. Many of these traits have been mentioned throughout this article. Here are a few skills that are commonly seen in top performers:

  • reliability;

  • leadership;

  • critical thinking;

  • time management;

  • problem-solving;

  • resilience;

  • integrity;

  • decision-making.

Possessing such a wide skill set means collaboration with co-workers is a strength for high performers. It also means they can work effectively alone.

9. Hunt for professional growth opportunities

The very best-performing employees are those who desire learning and opportunities to grow. They know they must work on their current abilities and learn new skills to reach their work goals on their path to career development. Here are a few opportunities that can help growth:

  • attending seminars on skill-building;

  • participating in peer-to-peer coaching;

  • working towards work-related certifications;

  • job shadowing;

  • asking for feedback;

  • joining workshops;

  • seeking out a mentor.

One final way to work on professional growth is to read articles and books on career-related growth. To help inspire you, view Headway’s insightful article and book list section on money and career.

By focusing on self-growth, experience, and skills can improve. Furthermore, a top performer widening their knowledge will benefit their company, too, as professional growth increases efficiency and overall success. It is this dedication that causes top performers to seek out challenging work. 

Top tip: Consider the last few tasks you were given at work. Did they challenge you? Did you learn anything? If the answer is no, consider asking for different tasks or more responsibility from your manager.

10. Set actionable targets 

12 signs you are a top performer at work

Goal setting is a key trait of high performers. They generally set actionable goals every few months so they know what they are working toward, what tasks need to get done, and when. Great performers will constantly be working on attaining their goals.

Some top-performing employees might assess their goals daily and base any responses to difficult decisions on whether they will assist in reaching these goals. Revolving their daily tasks around actionable goals can keep them focused and motivated.

11. Welcome constructive criticism

High performers understand that constructive criticism is valuable and fosters better job performance. They can therefore take constructive criticism well and use the information shared to improve and grow as a valuable team member. They do not take feedback personally but instead use it as an opportunity to learn how to improve and use the knowledge learned to do better. Top performers also display gratitude for receiving feedback. 

Top tip: To learn how to improve your career performance, be confident in asking for feedback. It is a great idea to try and set up a monthly meeting to discuss work, improvement, and what needs more progress. By determining what you can improve upon, you can set actionable targets for success.

12. Establish a good work-life balance 

It is important to be hardworking and put in consistently strong efforts in the workplace. But it is also important to unwind. Without taking time away from work, the risk of burnout is high. Therefore, top performers ensure that they form a healthy work-life balance.

Successful people understand how essential it is to relax and unload outside of work. You can be hardworking but have fun too. High performers understand that recharging is critical for consistent performance outcomes. They also know the importance of taking a sick day when ill and booking a vacation when they need to rest.

Quick tips to become a better performer at work

Before we conclude, here are a few useful tips to become a high-performer-employee:

  • Set regular career goals. You can gain recognition as a high performer by meeting goals set by your work. But it is also a good idea to set goals for yourself too. Find areas you can improve and set out actions to take that will help you get better.

  • Self-evaluate. Conduct a performance review of yourself in the same way your manager would. Consider your tasks, behaviors, and actions, and determine if they are helping you achieve your career goals. Being self-motivated to assess and enhance your performance is crucial for continuous personal and professional development.

  • Align your personal and professional life. Think about aspects of your personal life and whether they hinder your professional one. For instance, are you always tired at work? Adjust what time you go to bed. Are you always running late in the morning? Set an earlier time on your alarm clock. These small changes can have a great impact at work.

  • Keep your workspace organized. It is a good idea to ensure your workspace is clean to assist with focus. You should also consider prioritizing tasks, categorizing them, and planning a daily routine. This helps keep you organized and efficient.

  • Work on communication. Top performers are great at working as a team and leading. Your job performance will improve by striving to become a better listener and communicator. You can also take more time writing emails to ensure you have responded efficiently and politely. To check how you’re performing, ask your manager for feedback (either informal or formal) on your communication skills.

  • Incentivize. Rewarding yourself when you meet goals can be an excellent tactic. The goals can be small, like going to bed by a certain time. Then, you could reward yourself by watching your favorite movie or ordering takeout at the weekend. Little rewards can help with motivation, happiness, and overall satisfaction.

how to become a top performer at work

Enjoy becoming a high performer with Headway

At Headway, we are passionate about self-improvement and learning. We think it is important to take the time to work on self-growth to help us in both our personal and professional lives. We also understand how difficult it can be to dedicate time to education when juggling everything else in life. But, if you are not a top performer yet but want to become one, you must invest time in self-growth. That is why we have made the Headway app.

The Headway app offers a bite-sized approach to learning. There are 15-minute text and audiobook summaries, challenges, daily insights, personalized content, and more. It allows you to easily learn key teachings covering a range of subjects, including money, business, time management, happiness, and habits. 

On our website, you can also view insightful articles and expansive book lists that can assist virtually any aspect of your life. With Headway, there is nothing holding you back from becoming your best possible self. So download the Headway app today, and discover an easier path to self-growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you identify high performers in the workplace?

High performers at work will display the signs listed in this article. These include respecting all co-workers, possessing a strong skill set, and welcoming constructive criticism.

Why do high achievers quit?

High achievers will sometimes quit an organization because they no longer feel tested. They want to learn and grow and will leave a company if they are not given new challenges.

Why do high performers burn out?

High performers sometimes burn out because they put consistent effort into their working life. While hard work is important, it is crucial to take time away from work, enjoy your personal life, and recharge. There must be a healthy work-life balance. An exceptional performer will have this balance worked out.

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