7 Steps to Becoming a Breakthrough Performer

What is a high performer? — A self-starter who takes the initiative to “make things happen.”

High performers deliver results consistently.  They initiate new projects and make improvements, and “make things happen.”

When you earn a reputation as a high performer, you increase your value and become recognized as a high potential employee in whom your company will want to invest.

How can you become a high performer?


If you want to earn a reputation as a high performer, start practicing the behaviors characteristic of high performers.

1) Take responsibility for your success, and your career. Discover what you’re good at and in which roles you excel. Set goals and challenges and go for them.  Communicate your goals with management, and ask for feedback along the way towards achieving your goals.

Identify your skills gaps, and areas of weakness.  Then, take ownership by seeking out the knowledge you need to perform at a higher level.  For example, is your keyboarding (typing) slower than average?  Does your job require you to type on a computer (email, etc.)?  Simply improving your typing skills and speed will result in high productivity.

2) Seek out a mentor.  Find someone in your company, or someone in your industry, who can provide you with coaching or direction on how to achieve your goals.  Check in with your mentor at least once a month for feedback.  Listen to the feedback, and course-correct where needed.

3) Be a self-starter. Do you wait to be assigned projects or new responsibilities – or, do you seek them out?  Self-starters don’t wait for others to tell them how to achieve a goal. They identify opportunities, propose new projects, and improve work processes and systems.  They believe in continuous improvement, and constantly seek new challenges and ways to improve their work and departmental activities.

4) Achieve more results than others. If you are not consistently achieving more results than expected, identify one or two areas within your position or department where you can make a positive impact within a short period of time.  Look for at least one improvement you can make on a weekly basis.  It doesn’t have to be big, small improvements done consistently create long-term results.

Perhaps you do achieve results on a daily or weekly basis, but the person you report to is not aware of your results.  One way to remedy this situation, is to make notes on the results you achieve, improvements you make to your job, or within your department – and send a brief update on a weekly basis to your reporting supervisor outlining the results you achieved on a weekly or monthly basis.


5) Be a problem-solver. Every work team and department has opportunities for improvement. Set an intention to become aware of problems in your work area.

Questions Problem-Solvers Ask:

– What are the issues [at work] we face on a daily basis?”

– What are the things we do that people complain about?

– How can this problem be solved?

What are the issues that slow down workflow – or get in the way of you or your team quickly responding to other departments, or to customers?  Bring up those areas in team meetings – and when you do, be prepared to present a few possible solutions.

Even better, talk with people informally about the problems before you bring up the issue in a meeting. Initiate conversations with co-workers or direct reports about how the problem might be solved.  Once you have some solutions, present them to management and be sure to give credit to the people contributing solutions and ideas.

6) Become “solution-oriented” High performers believe there is a solution to every problem, and are determined to find it.  It’s not enough to become aware of problems – you also have to believe that an easy solution is available.  Seek out solutions to problems.  Hold a positive, solution-oriented focus whenever working with colleagues.

7) Positive and enthusiastic attitude. Successful people show high levels of energy when they approach a task. They don’t dwell on problems or failures. They take a learning approach by reflecting on what they learned when they make a mistake, so they can improve their performance in the future. Most importantly, high performers are highly motivated and have a passion for what they do.

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