What Makes Your Top Performers Successful?

Assessment What Makes Your Top Performers Successful?

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Knowing who your top performers are is one thing; knowing what makes them so successful in their roles is another. Sometimes being too close or too distant from an employee’s work can make it hard to know exactly what they are best at, let alone what skills, attributes, and personality traits contribute to their success.

Identifying your employees’ most effective traits can help guide individual performance, contribute to company growth, and improve your hiring process. Unlike imagining what you would like to find in your ideal candidate, you have the individuals, their coworkers, and their supervisors to contribute information and actual performances to examine.

The first step, of course, is actually identifying your top employees. Hard data, input from others, and personal knowledge are all important means of identifying the best people in your company.

As mentioned above, what makes these employees the best can be hard to define, even when you know that they are good performers. Taking a look at multiple employees who hold the same position is more beneficial than looking at each employee in isolation, but if you only have one person on a particular job you can still assess their performance for useful information.

There are a number of approaches you can take to collect the information needed to identify what makes your best employees so successful:

Create an Object Set of Performance Expectations

When it comes down to assessing existing talent it is critical to have objective ways to measure success. A series of key metrics, such as customer service ratings, dollar revenue create, and timeliness could be some examples. Objectively ranking the best people can help you uncover what it takes to achieve these goals.


Managers should be aware of who their best, worst, and mediocre workers are. Encourage your managers to observe employees in action and review their work carefully. They can be the best source of information about employees’ greatest strengthens. Depending on the position, this may be true of your best employees’ coworkers as well. However, asking coworkers for their opinion of one another may be a delicate task.

One-on-one Reviews

Conduct (or designate to trusted managers) one-on-one reviews. Performance reviews are excellent opportunities to catch problems before they become disruptive, provide some coaching to new employees, and encourage good workers. Retaining your best talent should always be a priority, and a little recognition goes a long way.

Personal interviews can help you understand what makes your employees successful in several ways. First, they may highlight personality traits or characteristic attributes that may clearly translate to the job. Second, you have the opportunity to ask the employees for their own thoughts about the job and their own work. If they are successful, their ideas about their work may give you insight into what is required to perform well.

Ask them to identify their weakest and best areas, as you would during a candidate interview. Their response will be subjective, but you can measure against other sources of information.

Assessment Tests

Have your best employees take an assessment test. Consider if you want to focus on skills or if you prefer to look at personality, leadership, and emotional intelligence. You may be able to find an assessment test designed for your employees’ specific roles. A well-designed test can help you compare and contrast your employees and gain deep insight into their abilities and character traits.

You may even find that different employees in the same position succeed in different ways. This certainly paints a more complex picture, but you can work your way to the heart of their success over time.

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