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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 July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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