According to the law of the vital few – and academic papers by the likes of Herman Aguinis and Ernest O’Boyle Jr. – 20% of employees at any given company are responsible for 80% of the output. In other words, at most workplaces, a few extraordinary individuals are helming the ship.
It’s no surprise, then, that finding and supporting these star performers is so important. Not only can they do wonders for team productivity and morale, they can also prove to be key company ambassadors. The question is, how do you know which employees have that perfect mélange of skills to really shine? How do you spot that person who can become your next superstar?
Here are 8 ways to spot a star performer.
1. They do their current job well. More than well, actually – they should be going above and beyond their job description on a consistent basis. If they’re sending out a “that’s not my job” vibe at any time, they’re not a star performer. Look for participation in projects that serve the company’s overall goals and mission statement – taking part in social events and party planning doesn’t count as going beyond the call of duty.
2. They take initiative. Whether it’s learning a new skill or jumping into the next task, a star performer is self-directed, and doesn’t waste time waiting for guidance at each step.
3. They’re a team player and a team leader. It’s all about adaptability: the ability to work harmoniously within a team, but also to step into a leader role when needed. The star performer can both collaborate and engage.
4. They have follow-through. Whether they’re working on a major product launch or something much simpler, a star performer sees a project through to completion, following up with relevant departments and leads to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.
5. They have strength of character. In a workplace, having strength of character means focusing on the good and well-being of the company, or a specific project or team within it. Even the most talented employee can bring down a team if they’re too focused on getting all the credit or hiding their mistakes.
6. They have champions. A star performer has people who respect and support what they do. Look for champions beyond their boss or direct manager ¬– both inside and outside of the organization – that are offering praise, looking to collaborate or otherwise celebrating their work.
7. They have organizational savvy. Of course, a lot of what makes an individual exceptional is the work they produce, but navigating an organization’s corporate climate is also crucial. A star performer is able to quickly identify intel like what type of behavior gets rewarded and how info is disseminated around the office.
8. They make others better. Star performers foster star performers. They lead by example, deftly avoiding any feelings of jealousy or animosity, but they’re also invested in helping their teammates to learn and grow.
Once you find a star performer, keep them happy with a positive, engaging workplace. Learn how to create a better work environment here.