In a recent strategic planning session involving all of the managers and supervisors at StoneAge, I stated admirably that one of our employees was worth a million dollars to our organization because of what he brings to our team and customers on a daily basis. I received several nods of agreement, and then a comment was made by a young manager who said, “I want you to say that about me someday. I’m motived to bring that kind of value to the company.” Since then, I’ve given a lot of thought to her statement. What makes an employee a high performer? What makes someone promotable? What qualities would someone need to exhibit to be invaluable to our company? How would I coach her, and all of our employees with so much potential, to be rock stars in their own right? Ah, the perfect blog topic…how to be a great employee! Want to be a top performer? Exhibit these behaviors…
Deliver Outstanding Performance
Most of us will spend all of our adult lives working. For some of us, this idea is exhilarating. For others, it may be demoralizing. But the fact is that most of us HAVE to work. So why not commit to being really great at what you do? Outstanding performance goes beyond just producing quality, timely work and surpassing your agreed-upon performance goals. As described in the book “Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success” top performers are experts in their jobs and focus on doing the right work…work that deliverers the highest value to their teams and companies. Outstanding performance is also based on your perceived helpfulness…do your coworkers see you as a team player who is ready to roll up your sleeves when they ask you for help? Outstanding performance means going the extra mile, always looking for ways to do your job better and improve your team’s overall performance. And it means you are an awesome teammate.
Exhibit Your Company’s Values
To be a rock star, you not only have to deliver results, but you also have to live and breathe your company’s values. You may be talented and smart but if you disregard the very things that are most important to the company, you may not be seen as a top performer. For example, if a core value of your company is teamwork and you blow off your teammates by not responding to emails, leave early when there is still work to be done, make snippy comments or say “that’s not my job” when they ask you for help, you are not a rock star. If another value is agility and you live purely in the black and white and find it torturous to change directions in the middle of a project because the company HAS to get an order out the door, it will be difficult for you to enjoy your job enough to be a rock star. Aligned values matter.
Have a Positive, Can-Do Attitude, Even When Things Are Difficult
There is almost nothing more important than your attitude when wanting to become a rock star employee. Face it, most people don’t want to be around someone who is negative, mean, pompous, or who is generally hard to work with. Like it or not, likeability is important. Be friendly, honest, and helpful. Have a sense of humor and don’t take yourself so seriously. This is especially important when the organization is stressed or going through significant change. How you handle your own stress when times are tough won’t go unnoticed and rock star employees can help others resist diving headfirst into the downward spiral of negativity and fear.
Be Candid and Solution Focused
Keeping a positive attitude doesn’t mean you don’t bring up problems or express your feelings when you get frustrated or upset. Top performers are committed to communicating candidly. Speak with honesty, authenticity, and directness and always say what you mean rather than beating around the bush (please read my blog on candor here). Additionally, rock stars say to themselves, “I want to be part of the solution, not the problem” and always share ideas with their managers and teammates on how to resolve issues.
Receive Feedback Like a Champ
Everyone needs feedback to grow as a teammate, employee, and as a human being. If your goal is to be a top performer, you have to get good at receiving feedback, both good and bad. My very best employees appreciate feedback, handle it with grace, and take action immediately. And if they react to it poorly, which all of us do from time to time, they take ownership of their reaction and apologize. If you would like more tips on how to receive feedback like a champ, read my blog on it here.
Being a top performer isn’t easy to do. It takes commitment, feedback, and effort. But it’s worth every ounce you put into it as it makes you, your team, and your organization better. That being said, I will leave you with this quote from Woodrow Wilson: “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
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