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3 Characteristics of Top Performers (and they might surprise you!)

We try to answer the question of “who is a good fit for this role at this organization” every day, to select a candidate who has the same characteristics of top performers and every day we have a different answer because no two roles and no two organizations are exactly the same – nor should they be. A customer service rep who thrives in a large team at a large corporation may not do nearly as well in a small cross-functional team at a start-up, for example.

Behavioral assessments can give employers a glimpse into who someone is. However, not every trait will be essential for every role so whether or not they would be a good fit for the role and the organization must then be inferred. Through quantitative and qualitative analysis of a role’s top performers, the demands of the role, and the culture of the organization, comparing candidates to the profiles of an organization’s peak performers can identify and emphasize the five to nine traits most essential to doing that job in that organization well.

After analyzing the ‘top performers profiles’ developed over the last five years, I found that a number of traits came up in 50% or more of these profiles as “key traits” – regardless of industry, occupation, pay grade, and level of responsibility. The consistency of these traits suggest that we may have statistically significant insight into “what makes a good employee”. Based on the results, here is some insight into just a few of these characteristics that were surfaced in top performers.

The “Organizer”

When thinking about a good employee, no matter what the role, someone who loves to get the little things right can be a value add to any team. This person tends to be organized and planful and prefers structure and stability to ambiguity. The motto of this person may be “quality over quantity,” and they strive to do good work that they are proud of.

The “Rock”

They may be viewed as emotionally mature and resilient by those around them, and they can perform well under pressure and bounce back from setbacks. It makes sense that someone who does not get riled up when faced with confrontation or when things go wrong performs in so many different roles and settings.

The “Doer”

Those who work with this person may describe them as someone who has good common-sense and has a practical way of thinking. They tend to prioritize according to the bottom-line and are known for being able to get things done.

Just as no single trait defines an individual, no single trait defines a role or an organization. These characteristics are not the only characteristics that define top performers, but rather a few pieces of the puzzle that might make a strong candidate. A top performer may exemplify one, two, or none of these traits but still exceed expectations. That is why, when looking at Peak Performer Profiles they typically possess a range of key traits.  Traits that capture the nuances of each role and organization more fully and allow for a healthy variation in candidates. And remember, unicorns do not exist (unfortunately), so someone who is not a perfect match may still be a future top performer. It is important to look at the whole person and the whole assessment to get the full picture.

If you are already using TQ assessments, great! You are already on your way to a more objective selection and hiring. If you want to continue to take the guesswork out of your hiring process and develop a profile as unique as your organization, culture, and context, we are here to help!

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