WORKPLACE SUCCESS / 03 December 2018
The Best Behaviors of Top Performers in the Workplace
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Emily Banks

High-performing employees are the backbone of any company. While a majority of employees generally perform well, every company usually has a number of employees who stand out from the others – top performers who exceed expectations and have a key role in their company’s growth.  

According to a recent study, employees labeled top performers by their managers were three times more valuable than the average employee and were responsible for 61% of their department’s work. 

This article discusses the qualities and behaviors employers find the most valuable in their top performers.

What’s a Top Performer?

How do you recognize a top performer? They are the employees who regularly go beyond their job description, seek out growth opportunities, have good people skills and demonstrate leadership potential. Top performers also handle pressure with grace, share praise and accept responsibility. 

Managers reward top talent with more challenging assignments, additional responsibility, larger salaries, and promotions.

Retaining high-performing employees is essential for business growth. Managers should identify top performers and ensure they develop and manage them effectively. If top performers don’t feel challenged or appreciated, they may become disengaged or bored and leave for greener pastures.  

Traits of Top-Performing Employees

While every job requires specific skills and knowledge base, all high-performing employees share some common traits. Who a person is, is hard to pinpoint from the initial screening process. However, after some time, if an employee possesses many or all of these eight characteristics, they are surely a valuable employee.

1. Passionate

People with passion possess a high-level of enthusiasm and interest in life and work. When an employee is passionate about what they do, they consistently look for better ways to improve themselves, their role and the business in general. Passionate employees are excited about their work and feel a sense of personal accomplishment. Passionate workers are committed to continually achieving higher levels of performance and are also more likely to be engaged in and satisfied with their work.

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs ranked passion over job experience when hiring new employees. He believed passionate employees understood the company’s mission and would strive towards the common goal of company success.  

2. Goes the Extra Mile

Going the extra mile is defined as doing more without being asked. Top performers do not stand by and watch failures and poor work being done because it’s not in their job descriptions. Employees with a willingness to go the extra mile demonstrate a strong work ethic, always try their hardest and are motivated to perform at a high-level. They are the type of people who will always try their hardest. 

Employees who go the extra mile influence team performance by consistently assisting other team members with their tasks, providing leadership if something goes wrong and doing anything necessary to get the job done.

3. Takes Initiative

Top performers are self-directed and generally, they do not need external motivation or praise to perform well. They are eager to take on additional responsibilities and accept new challenges. The best performers are proactive when it comes to their career development, they ensure they acquire the necessary skills to perform their jobs effectively and they spend more time in training than other employees. 

4. Open to Feedback

Top performers seek input and feedback from their managers. They want more detailed information about their work, so they can stay on check with their job performance. High-performance employees also keep track of the influence and knowledge within the organization. They will have frequent contact with supervisors and managers in other departments and subsequently use the input from the overall organization to develop new ideas. They know when to take the “lead, follow or get out of the way” approach constructively.

5. Dependable

The best employees perform at a high level at almost all times.  They follow through when they say they will do something. A dependable employee not only shows up for work on time every day but also produces consistent work and can apply company policies and business strategies evenly to each task and assignment. Continuing to show dependability and consistency at each job level only increases an employee’s value to their employer. 

6. Empathetic  

Empathy is the ability to experience and relate to the emotions or experiences of others.  Empathetic people can step into someone else’s shoes, be aware of their feelings and understand their needs. To be empathic, you have to think beyond yourself and your own concerns. Empathetic people are flexible and are prepared to change direction as the other person's thoughts and feelings also change.  

In the workplace, empathy is about showing respect for managers and co-workers. They do everything they can to help others reach their goals because they know how it feels to fall short. They are willing to meet last minute requests and navigate through challenges.

7. Humble  

High-performing employees are humble about their accomplishments and don’t seek out recognition for their success. Instead, they put their ego aside and let their work speak for itself. Humble people are willing to take on any job, no matter how menial, because they realize no job is beneath them. They understand their strengths and weaknesses and aren’t afraid to ask if they need help or don’t know something. 

Humble people automatically share credit because they instinctively realize that every effort, no matter how seemingly individual, is actually a team effort.  Humble employees are viewed as kind and relatable and help create a positive work environment. Other employees feel comfortable approaching humble employees for advice and assistance.  

8. Detail-Oriented

Employees who are detail-oriented do more than just avoid costly errors. They notice subtleties, which can give your company an inside edge and a competitive advantage. They are the first people to notice if something's out of place and see what no one else around them sees. Detail-oriented employees take pride in their work and make sure the job is completed accurately. 

A detail-oriented person is someone who pays attention to the details and makes a conscious effort to understand the causes and effects.  Detail-orientated employees are more likely to double check their work and proofread to avoid any costly mistakes. On Texas Hard Money’s feedback page, for example, customer Paul uses the words “consummate professionals” to describe the employees. To be consummated, or as close to flawless as possible, is especially important if the employee works in a technical, medical or financial role. When a customer’s social security number, bank account information, address and more are being shared, it is crucial to be particular in every aspect of work.


The difference between top performers and other employees is immense. High-performing employees are dedicated to their jobs and focused on the success of the organization. Top performers have outstanding skills distinguishing them from their colleagues in the workplace. They take initiative, engage in open communication, thrive in a collaborative environment and strive to be better. To get more tips on how to succeed in your career, subscribe to ProSky’s career buzz blog! You’ll get the best tips, tricks, and advice to be the best you can be!

Author Emily Banks is an expert in landing page creation and inbound marketing and has worked with organizations large and small to increase their digital presence. When she’s not optimizing webpages, she can be found adventuring the beaches and breweries of San Diego. Emily is currently the editor for the content marketing section of the new website 365 Business Tips as well as a digital marketing expert at Inseev Interactive.