14 Signs of a High Performer at Work

By: | Updated: February 26, 2024

Here is our list of the best signs of a high performer at work.

Signs of a high performer at work are indicators of a team member who goes above and beyond in their job. Examples include maintaining a positive mindset, taking initiative, and respecting teammates. Identifying these signs can help you keep track of top employees who may be eligible for promotions, raises, or rewards.

High performers at work often have great workplace soft skills, use collaboration techniques, and focus on professional development.


This list includes:

  • common traits of high performers
  • attributes of high performers
  • high performer characteristics
  • things high-performing employees do

Let’s get to it!

List of signs of a high performer at work

High-performing employees have the potential to bring success to your company by achieving goals and improving your workplace culture. Here are a few common signs of high performers at work.

1. Gives maximum effort

Becoming a top-performing employee takes dedication and hard work. As a result, the highest-performing employees are known for consistently focusing on day-to-day responsibilities and important projects.

For example, an employee looking to move to the next level in their career may go back to school and pursue a degree. A significant amount of work comes with higher education, such as completing assignments, studying, and passing exams. High-performing employees are willing to put in the extra work and effort to succeed and advance in their careers.

High-performing employees are not afraid to put in daily effort to achieve their goals. In addition, teammates can often count on the office’s top performers due to their reliability and consistent efforts, making these ambitious employees a great asset to your team.

2. Has a strong set of skills

The high performers in your organization most likely have a diverse skill set of technical knowledge and subject expertise.

These are just a few key skills that you should look for in top performers:

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Decision making
  • Leadership
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Time management
  • Reliability
  • Conflict resolution
  • Resilience

Employees with solid skill sets collaborate well with teammates and perform well under pressure. In addition, these team members work well independently and can get projects done carefully and on time.

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3. Maintains a positive mindset

If you know any top performers at work, then you may have noticed their positive mindset. One of the most common attributes of high performers is positivity.

The attitudes and mindsets of your team members have a major impact on the company culture. High-performing employees have the potential to transform the workplace by exuding positivity.

Here are a few common behaviors of positive employees:

  • Greets teammates with a smile
  • Uses positive language and words of encouragement
  • Steps in and helps employees who are struggling
  • Encourages teammates to focus on the positive
  • Focuses on overcoming workplace challenges

A positive attitude can help folks elevate their mood, confidence, and happiness. Employees who remain upbeat despite obstacles and challenges are key to success. In addition, having more positivity in the office is a great way to boost employee happiness and satisfaction.

4. Sets actionable goals

One of the most important things high-performing employees do is goal setting. By setting actionable goals, employees know what to work toward and accomplish in a given timeframe.

For example, a sales employee may set a goal to increase sales by 3% by the end of the year. This team member may aim to generate more sales leads by cold-calling potential customers daily. At the end of the year, this employee would check on their progress and determine if they increased sales.

Top performers are organized in setting goals every few months. In addition, these employees do everything they can to achieve goals and constantly work toward success.

Here is a list of goal setting activities.

5. Exhibits leadership qualities

Top-performing employees act like leaders and use their skills and experience to collaborate effectively with coworkers. High performers are eager to assist whenever a coworker asks for help or advice. For example, suppose a new employee in a retail store is having trouble managing the cash register. In that case, the top employee can guide newer or less experienced coworkers through efficiently working the cash register, even during a busy hour.

Even if high-performers are not in leadership positions, these workers do a great job serving as model employees. High-performing employees follow through on their commitments and guide coworkers to success. By having top performers on your team, you will have a team of role models that can inspire new employees to work to their full potential.

Here is a list of good leadership qualities.

6. Respects all teammates equally

Respect is one of the most common traits of high performers. Top employees show consideration and respect to all coworkers, regardless of title, position, or team.

Here are a few actions that top performers take to show their respect in the office:

  • Uses polite and inclusive language
  • Listens attentively when other employees are speaking
  • Allows time for all teammates to make their voices heard in meetings
  • Includes all teammates in social activities and events
  • Acknowledges and recognizes other team members’ contributions
  • Aims to uplift teammates with positivity and friendliness

When you run into a high-performing employee in the office, you will most likely receive the utmost courtesy and respect.

7. Takes initiative on critical projects

Top-performing employees are high achievers, meaning that these employees are more likely to take on leadership roles. As a result, you will often see these high performers taking the initiative on vital projects.

For example, if a marketing employee must write next week’s blog post, this employee will undoubtedly deliver a well-written blog before the deadline. However, this team member might also surprise you by taking the initiative to create a few new blog topics for future articles.

High performers are not afraid to take the lead, even regarding important projects. These employees are often motivated and driven to volunteer for new assignments and challenges related to their roles.

8. Displays high productivity

Top-performing employees excel in organization, time management, and problem-solving, all of which are traits that lead to higher rates of productivity.

These are a few ways high performers can increase their productivity at work:

  • Taking on high-impact projects
  • Improving skills through training
  • Setting small goals and objectives to work toward
  • Delegating tasks and responsibilities to teammates
  • Mastering the skill of time management
  • Limiting distractions in the workplace

By prioritizing projects and remaining organized in their work, high-performing employees display efficiency in the workplace and make the most out of every hour.

Here is a list of productivity apps.

9. Rises to the challenge

While some employees may be hesitant to take on challenging projects, you will find that your top performers are often willing to dive right in. One of the best features of a high performer is the drive to take on challenging work.

Many times, high performers remain calm under pressure. Some high-performing employees may even thrive in these conditions, consistently making deadlines and producing quality work. The reason most high-performing employees thrive under pressure is due to their confidence. This confidence allows top performers to work calmly on a project by analyzing all factors and solving problems.

Once a high performer has completed one task, you may find this employee eager to take on another project and lead this assignment to success.

10. Seeks professional growth opportunities

From taking on additional responsibilities to participating in training sessions, the highest-performing employees crave learning and development opportunities. Top performers know they can achieve their career goals by building on their existing abilities and gaining new skills.

High-performing employees prioritize their growth and often seek different ways to train and improve their skills, such as:

  • Finding a mentor
  • Taking online skill-building seminars
  • Reading books and articles related to career growth
  • Signing up for career development workshops
  • Asking for feedback from managers and peers
  • Getting certifications related to their career field
  • Engaging in peer-to-peer coaching
  • Exploring career opportunities through job shadowing

Employees can improve their range of skills and experience by taking steps toward professional growth.

For example, if an employee working in information technology were looking for professional development opportunities, they could choose to complete a CompTIA Security+ certification. This type of certification provides IT professionals with knowledge of security fundamentals. In addition, by earning this certification, an IT employee can take on additional responsibilities and work toward a promotion in their current job.

Dedication to growth and development may be one of the most beneficial traits of a high performer. By constantly learning, your employees’ professional development will also help your company grow. Plus, with more employees working on learning and development initiatives, your company will increase productivity and success.

11. Asks for feedback

Top employees often seek to improve and move up in their careers. As a result, these employees often ask managers and team leaders for feedback on their performance.

You can expect high-performing employees to set up monthly or bi-monthly one-on-one meetings with managers. These meetings often serve as an opportunity to discuss critical projects, progress, and areas of improvement.

Once high-performing employees receive feedback from their leaders, they put in the extra work to improve in key areas. Then, with input from managers, top performers can take actionable steps to succeed in their careers.

Check out this list of feedback tips.

12. Accepts constructive criticism

While some employees may take critique personally, high-performers know that constructive criticism is meant to help them improve. Your best employees take constructive criticism well and use your feedback to grow.

You may also notice that top employees actively ask for feedback on areas where they can improve their work performance. These employees act immediately on feedback from managers and coworkers. High-performing employees are strategic in building action plans and setting goals based on their constructive criticism.

13. Understands their strengths and weaknesses

When thinking about high performer characteristics, it is essential to remember the ability to say no. Rather than being good at many different skills and trades, top performers tend to focus on one specific area of proficiency.

Although many high performers often accept new tasks and responsibilities, these employees know their limits. Likewise, many top performers know when to say no, especially when saying yes to additional work will be overwhelming.

For example, if an employee is working on a metrics report with a deadline of Friday, chances are, this worker will not accept any new projects mid-week. These employees understand how important it is to manage work responsibilities. As a result, high performers may not accept a new project if they know it will slow down their current assignment’s progress.

Top performers know how to set boundaries, which is crucial in the workplace. Furthermore, these employees know how to politely decline additional responsibilities when it slows down their current progress.

14. Maintains a healthy work-life balance

Employees are more likely to experience stress and burnout with all work and no play. Therefore, one of the most essential steps for high-performing employees is to find a healthy work-life balance.

Employees equally prioritize their personal and professional lives with a healthy work-life balance. As a result, these employees can work toward their personal goals while keeping their professional responsibilities in check.

For example, an employee working in an accounting job will certainly spend their weekdays completing work tasks and requirements. However, these employees may spend the weekends doing hobbies they love, such as painting, knitting, or practicing an instrument.

High-performing employees know the importance of taking time off to avoid burnout. Therefore, these employees take time off to reset and recharge.


High-performing employees are team members who constantly go the extra mile regarding work tasks and assignments. Also known as high achievers, these employees often go above and beyond their typical job responsibilities.

High-performing employees are crucial to your company’s success. These employees have the power to impact your company’s culture and productivity positively. As a leader, it is essential to identify and recognize high performers in your workplace.

If you are looking to improve or reward employee performance, then check out these articles on employee of the month ideas, employee engagement theory, and boosting employee productivity.

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FAQ: Signs of a high performer at work

Here are answers to questions about signs of a high performer at work.

What are the signs of a high performer at work?

High performers are high achievers, which means that the top-performing employees at your company are driven, ambitious, and dedicated.

If you are looking for signs of high performers at work, then you should watch out for employees who:

  • Seek professional development opportunities
  • Take initiative on key projects
  • Go above job requirements
  • Set goals and work toward achieving goals
  • Are reliable and trustworthy
  • Can work well under pressure
  • Serve as a role model for other employees

High performers often go above and beyond typical job responsibilities and requirements. Plus, you will rarely hear these employees complaining about their work responsibilities. On the contrary, these employees can handle their workloads and lend a helping hand to coworkers when needed.

How can you identify high performers in the workplace?

Many signs can help you identify a top performer at work.

For example, you can look for employees who:

  • Are eager to take on challenging projects
  • Make informed decisions
  • Consider how decisions will impact other employees
  • Can easily adapt to new situations and environments
  • Model exceptional behavior
  • Solve problems and conflicts with ease
  • Are self-motivated and driven to succeed

Another way to identify top performers in the workplace is by measuring the success around key performance indicators, or KPIs. If your employee consistently hits your company’s success measures, then you can safely assume that they are a high performer.

What distinguishes high performers from average performers in organizations?

One of the biggest factors distinguishing high performers from average performers at work is drive and ambition.

High organizational performers are likely working toward goals they set for themselves, such as a promotion or salary raise. Average performers, on the other hand, may be content with their position in their careers. Personal or professional goals might not drive these employees.

Another way to identify high performers from average performers is their working habits. For example, high performers may be more likely to do their own research and seek answers to their questions before involving the rest of the group. These employees may also spend more time working on projects until they truly bring the project to a good place. Average performers may stop at the first obstacle they encounter rather than look for a solution.

If you are looking for a way to easily distinguish high-performing employees, then we suggest looking into which team members are the most motivated and eager to take on new projects.

How do you reward high performers in the workplace?

If you have a few high performers on your team, then we recommend recognizing these employees for their hard work and dedication.

Here are a few ways to reward high performers in the workplace:

  • Extra paid time off
  • Salary increase
  • Bonus payment
  • Recognition at a team meeting
  • Saying thank you
  • Invest in personal or professional development opportunities

By rewarding your top-performing employees, you will give these team members motivation to continue doing a great job while encouraging other teammates to work harder in hopes of reaching this goal.

Author avatar


People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at teambuilding.com. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.


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