You might think of a top performer as someone who gets results, but productivity is just one of the many facets that represent the best employees. Cream-of-the-crop employees aren't one-dimensional. They're well-rounded workers who bring the whole package to the workplace, from professional behavior to a work ethic that begets results and consistency.
Quality of Work
Top performers complete tasks at a high level. They don't hand in reports with information missing, talk to customers without any gusto or make a halfhearted attempt at securing new clients and closing sales. They're invested in the quality of their work, and that quality is almost always spectacular. Consider a salesperson who has an upcoming meeting with a prospective client. A top performer would prepare beforehand, know her stuff inside and out, understand what approach to take with the client and then assimilate all that into an outstanding sales pitch. A mediocre performer might wing it or not put a lot of effort into her meetings, resulting in fewer sales over time compared to a top performer.
Every workplace is occasionally plagued by unprofessional employees. They're the ones who show up to work late or not at all, chitchat about rumors that undermine someone's or a company's credibility, disregard the dress code, send emails with text talk and engage in other obviously unprofessional behaviors. Top performers are the epitome of professional employees. They're accountable for their work, they help others that are in need, have a positive mindset, resolve problems by talking to coworkers directly or to management and mold their behavior around the company's policies.
Desire to Improve
Your favorite book, product, service, food and the best employee to ever grace a company all have one thing in common: They have room for improvement. No thing or person is perfect. There's always a little tweak to be made and more learning to be had. Top performers welcome the opportunity to better themselves and recognize there's always something they could improve on. They don't close themselves off from or refuse to entertain criticism. Instead, they take stock of their weaknesses, learn from their failures and ultimately become a more rounded employee. In their desire to better themselves, top performers don't shy away from speaking up in meetings and asking questions to learn about changes and clarify things they're unsure about.
Employees who lack motivation to perform at a high level often have a lack of goals to blame. An employee without goals is like an archer without an archery target. Top performers rarely lack motivation or direction because they know what they want. They set goals for themselves so that have something to work toward. Oftentimes, goals spawn other goals, so there's always something to aim for. For example, consider a restaurant server. She wants to up her average check to $30 so she'll earn more tips. That's the first goal. To do that, she needs to sell more drinks. That's another goal. She can also attempt to sell more deserts, persuade customers to upgrade to more expensive side items and so on. With those goals, she gives herself direction instead being clueless as to how she can perform at a higher level.
The best employees perform at a high level at almost all times. Missing an occasional day of work or lacking motivation every now and then happens to everyone, but consistency is the name of the game for top performers. They don't demonstrate professional behavior one week and then yell at customers the next, and their production level doesn't look like a seismograph during an earthquake.
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