10 High performer Characteristics: How to identify high performers in your team

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Every team needs high performers to succeed in its mission. These individuals are invaluable in any team, not only because they inspire and motivate other team members. They also tend to have a disproportionate impact on the team's positive outcomes.

According to a study, about 10% of productivity in a team comes from only the top 1% of the team members. The efforts of only 5% of the top performers can account for about 26% of the team's output. The study concluded that a high performer in an average team is as much as four times more productive than the average worker.

The most notable high performer characteristics include a unique combination of skills, attributes, and qualities. These characteristics set the high performers apart from the rest and enable them to achieve remarkable results, and influence their team members to do the same. Understanding and fostering these qualities will empower your entire team to perform and produce at higher levels.

This blog will highlight seven of the most important characteristics of high performers in a team and how these traits make them high performing employees.

1. Goal-Oriented

For any team to consistently achieve its goals, it must have at least one member who excels at helping everyone else align their personal goals with the overall team goals. This high performer in the team will always have a clear understanding of other individuals' perception of team and personal objectives and goals. They constantly strive to be top performers, keeping their sights on what needs to be done and when, and work diligently to help inspire others to be top performing employees with knowledge of what is urgent and important.

High performers stand out easily because they do not hesitate to take ownership of their work, regardless of the outcome. They understand the importance of accountability and value individual performance as a key contributor to the team's overall success. Since they are result-driven, these individuals take pride in delivering quality work that meets or exceeds expectations and push other team members to do the same.

2. Communicate Clearly

Clear communication is necessary for any team to collaborate effectively. Team members who can communicate clearly, share ideas openly, and provide feedback foster team unity and effective teamwork. This is one of the most important characteristics high performers in a team needs to hold it together and help it achieve high productivity and better outcomes.

A high performer in any team strives to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts by encouraging clear communication. By encouraging others to do the same, high performers help to ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page and accept their roles wholeheartedly. Communicating clearly and concisely is a sure way to build trust among team members, prevent confusion, and reduce the risks of errors and mistakes.

Related: 4 Types of Communication Styles in the Workplace

3. Strong Work Ethic

Every business or organisation is constantly looking for high performing employees who have a strong sense of responsibility, take their work seriously, and are dedicated to achieving set goals within deadlines. These individuals are top performers with strong work ethic because they are reliable and consistent. Their strong work ethics are necessary to build trust and develop a team and company culture.

The best way to know how strong a team member's work ethic is to study how motivated they are to work. A high performer in a team understands that their individual effort contributes to the team's success. High performers have a strong natural sense of responsibility, discipline, and organisation. Because of these traits, other team members can look up to them to set a positive example they can emulate.

4. Positive Demeanour

An optimistic employee with a 'can do' attitude and a mindset focused on results takes on challenges with enthusiasm. When combined with resilience, strong interpersonal skills, and a respectful demeanor, they become a high-performing individual who can inspire and influence others. A team that includes one or more high performers will frequently find effective solutions to challenges and are less likely to complain about resource constraints. Key performance indicators (KPIs) can be used to measure the performance of such employees.

Related: Employee Engagement Metrics to Track at Your Organization

Positive demeanour is also instrumental in building a more positive and optimistic team culture. Employee morale is critical in fostering team collaboration and productivity. top performers naturally possess a positive demeanor that they use to boost team spirit and morale. A high performing employee uses their contagious positive attitude at work to enhance collaboration, productivity, and overall team performance. When a team has one or more high performers who approach challenges with optimism, resilience, good people skills, and respect, they are more likely to find effective solutions and complain less about available resources. Overall, a team culture that values and cultivates positivity and optimism is more likely to be successful in achieving its goals and objectives, as well as in maintaining high levels of employee satisfaction and engagement.

5. Adaptability

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Circumstances are constantly changing in any work environment. New projects with unique requirements, team member turnovers, and change in work priorities are major threats to the cohesion and performance of a team. However, high performers cannot be easily thrown off by such changes because they are flexible. They respond quickly and effectively to changes and new challenges, which is good for the overall team performance.

Unlike everyone else, high performers can adapt to change better because they are proactive and anticipate change. They respond better and faster to issues even before they are a bigger obstacle. Having a single high performer on a team can inspire others to anticipate risks in their work and personal lives, which can help the team stay on track and remain productive even in a dynamic environment.

6. Consistency

High performers in any company or organisation are reliable individuals who always put their best efforts in whatever they do. They quickly build effective work routines and workplace habits that act as the foundation to their success. In a team, other members can count on the top performers to show consistent effort and professionalism that helps them achieve team goals.

Consistency promotes reliability and accountability. A team member who consistently meets their personal and team commitments help build trust and respect within a team. A high performer maintains his or her status in the team by consistently delivering quality work and setting a positive example for others to follow. High performers understand that supporting their team members in building winning streaks and achieving their goals can enhance team dynamics, leading to a more positive and productive work environment

7. Have a Growth Mindset

High performers believe that individual and team talents and abilities are developed through hard work, dedication, and continuous learning. A high performing employee must have a growth mindset tends to have other high performance characteristics such as resilience, adaptability, and openness to new challenges. This high performer mindset is in contrast to a fixed one, which stresses that abilities and talents are innate and cannot be changed or improved.

High performers typically have a growth mindset and are more likely to embrace new opportunities to grow - both personally and professionally. As high performing employees, they constantly strive to push themselves out of their comfort zones because they view obstacles and setbacks as opportunities. The attitude of a high performer, who will most likely often appear among the top performing employees, easily rubs off on other team members and can help them embrace a culture of learning and continuous improvement.

8. Leadership

We have already established that high performers tend to be highly motivated individuals who take the initiative to drive results. The best leaders emerge as top performers and outperform average performers every day in every task. Because they enjoy setting goals and developing plans to achieve them, leaders must be high performing employees who are capable of taking charge and guiding others to do the same.

By embodying the characteristics of high performers, having passion, and clear communication skills, even average performers can become an exceptional and effective leaders or top performers. High performers excel at collaborating with others, problem-solving, and leading by example through their commitment to personal and professional development. A team led by a high performer is more productive due to their ability to build interpersonal and relational abilities that bring out the best in team members.

9. Healthy Work-Life Balance


A high performing employee must be physically and mentally healthy to perform well at work. Everyone strives to be a high performer, but many fail to achieve it because they cannot find a balance between and achieve both personal and professional expectations. Work-life balance refers to the way a person prioritises their personal well-being and desires and their work responsibility and aspirations. High performers find it easy to achieve a sustainable work-life balance that ensures they take time for themselves without negatively impacting their work.

Similarly, a team must have high performing employees with a healthy balance of work and life outside work to consistently meet its goals. A healthy work-life balance helps prevent stress and burnout, which is the leading cause of poor productivity and low job satisfaction. High performers who balance their work and personal life tend to be creative, motivated, and bring unique perspectives and ideas to the team. To become a high performer, an employee must prioritize their physical and mental health, and strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance. By doing so, they can consistently perform well at work, avoid burnout, and contribute positively to the team's success.

10. Welcome Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism can help an individual and a team to improve. A high performer in a workplace welcomes constructive feedback on their work or life without taking it personally. They analyse the feedback to find what is valuable and focus their energy on using it to improve themselves. Most importantly, top performers know how to evaluate the quality of advice and opinions based on who is offering it and can tell which can help them become top performing employees who bring the most value to the team and the organization.

High performers are impersonal to their efforts and welcome feedback and criticism and use it to grow. A high performer often takes proactive steps to act on practical suggestions and views it as an investment in their individual or team success. Because of this, they will often express gratitude for the feedback or ask follow-up questions to get clarity.

Final Thoughts

High performing employees are crucial to the success of any team. A business or organisation that can identify high performance characteristics in a team will better encourage and promote these high-performance individuals. By fostering these qualities, entire teams can perform and produce at higher levels.

Topic: HRM / high performer characteristics