How to recognise high performers: 5 tips to find the top 5%

Blog main picture High performance

When we build a team, we want to pick the best from the market. However, recognising high performers seems a hard task to accomplish when, according to psychologists, most employees exhibit qualities of good performers.

But let's take a step back for a sec. What is a high performer? High performers and high potential employees are not the same thing. A high performer, also called high achiever, is someone who excels within an organisation. They always perform beyond expectations and are often willing to go the extra mile.

On the other hand, high potential individuals are people who have shown exceptional talent and have the capability to progress into a high performer. Therefore, high potential individuals are still on an earlier stage in professional development. Someone with high potential, making enough effort and receiving the right mentoring, could become a high performer. That is why most high performers will not show all the characteristics at first, but surely, they can grow into them.

Signs of high performance

Confidence and energy will drive your high performer. They are highly skilled and have a desire for high quality. They tend to be perfectionists; however, perfectionism won't stop them from progressing. Instead, they will use it to thrive. But there are some tips that will help to identify them:

1. They are goal-oriented

High performers will work towards achievement, but without loosing sight of work quality. They are accountable and good time managers. They also take ownership, but at the same time they enjoy collaborating. So when they take ownership of a task or project, it's in the spirit of taking responsibility rather than stealing the spotlight. They are also able to think outside the box and go above and beyond to complete the tasks assigned.

2. They seek opportunities to learn and develop

High performers love to read and discover new ways of upskilling. They believe that risk-taking is one of the best ways to learn. They bring passion and positivity, showing a can-do attitude and becoming a motivating force for their colleagues without even trying. They are curious and open-minded, qualities that can lead them to savvy but unconventional solutions.

3. They have a strong work ethic

High performers will become role models in your organisation. When a high performer promises to complete a task, you can consider it done. They never reject a task because it's not in their job description; actually, they experience high levels of job satisfaction and will be willing to take on any job, even if nobody ask them to get involved.

4. They value feedback to keep growing

High performers will be waiting for your feedback as they see this an opportunity to keep growing. This way, they will learn more about the company and its management. Only then they can choose to embrace the company's vision, mission and goals. If they didn't agree with those, they wouldn't think twice about leaving.

5. They are good communicators

Because they are good communicators, they don't have a problem to expand their network and collaborate with others. Also, they can be very direct in an attempt to avoid time wasting. High performers don't mind conflict, and they understand the difference between responding and reacting. They might become company ambassadors, tending to last over 10 years at a company.

High performers are equally made of talent and dedication. But if you are still unsure when it comes to recognise them, we have the best team to help you do it. 


If you'd like a change in your career, get in touch! We work with some amazing clients and always have great new roles. If you work in the IT sector, then we'll have an opportunity for you!

For personalised support on finding your next role, get in touch with us!

We're ShortList Recruitment, Chester and Austin based IT specialist recruitment agency.

E: Chester: +44 1244 360206 Austin: +1 512 399 4006