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9 Characteristics Of High Performers

9 Characteristics Of High Performers

Getting ahead. Winning the race. Earning the highest income. All of that is possible when you become a top performer.

Psychologists, business experts and scientists have studied top performers extensively. Discover what they have learned about high performers – again and again, it comes down to the same habits, drives and attitudes.

1. They Put In The Work, Day After Day

Becoming a high performer takes significant effort. There’s no away around putting in the work. Consider the practice habits of many elite athletes for example. Fox News found that many top athletes put in training time immediately after major games – to lock in the improvement gains from the off-season.

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Gaining from education and better techniques help but there is no substitute for showing up to put in the work. If you want to know more about this concept, read Do The Work by Steven Pressfield.

2. They Work At Learning Their Craft From Others

In his book Mastery, Robert Greene finds that most high performers in history (and in our time) work with mentors to develop their skills. British scientist Michael Faraday worked as a lab assistant to leading chemist Humphry Davy for years before he achieved prominence. Greene finds the same pattern at play with artists, entrepreneurs and many other masters. Learning from other high performers is one of the best ways to make progress.

3. They Get Feedback On Their Performance

The Harvard Business Review found 50% of high performers expect to meet with their manager at least once per month to discuss their performance reports . Feedback makes it easier to get better. Without feedback, top performers would be reduced to guessing about their results – that’s no way to get to the top.

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4. They Look For Opportunities To Learn And Grow With Every Assignment

When taking on new assignments and activities, high performers ask what they are going to learn from the experience. For example, a top software developer may be excited about the opportunity to work on a new technology. What if they don’t get the learning they need to grow? Before long, they look for new opportunities.

Top performers rarely stay bored and unchallenged at work for long. So, follow this action tip: Think about the past three new assignments you did at work. How did you learn and grow from those efforts? If you’re not seeing growth, consider asking for insight and new projects from your manager.

5. They Demand Top Compensation For Top Performance

Top performers have no qualms about asking for salary increases, bonus payments and other compensation as a result of their outstanding contributions and results. If their top results are not rewarded, top performers are ready to look elsewhere.

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6. They Direct Their Own Learning

High performers understand the central importance of lifelong learning to career advancement. While they certainly take advantage of employer provided learning programs, they do not limit themselves to those options. Top performers take night classes, go to seminars, participate actively in conferences and read in their field.

7. Top Performers Are Highly Productive

A recent study found that top perfomers deliver 400% higher productivity than an average performer. They increase their productivity with a combination of strategies: choosing to work on high impact projects, improving their skills and consistently using a proven productivity system such as Getting Things Done. Productivity is a set of habits and ideas that are mastered over time.

8. They Know When To Say No At The Office

Becoming a jack of all trades does not lead to top performance. While the very best accept new assignments for growth (see #4 above), there are limits to this point. Learning how to say no is an important professional skill. High performers understand that they know it is up to them to manage their work responsibilities effectively. So learn how to set boundaries and how to say no nicely.

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9. They Value Their Health and Fitness

High performers understand that long hours at the office are needed from time to time. However, they know that cutting corners on sleep and exercise is not a smart strategy. In fact, British entrepreneur and billionaire Richard Branson finds that exercise improves his productivity substantially. Branson’s exercise habit gives him at least four additional hours of productive time every day according to an interview he gave in The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss.

Featured photo credit: Girl Working on her MacBook in Caffe/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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