Checklist: Identifying High Performance Talent

Natasia Langfelder |


Good talent is hard to find. A competitive job market for highly skilled talent means that recruiting new talent into your organization can be a drain on time and resources; with little to show for it. Looking internally for high performing talent and rewarding it has numerous benefits to your organization; including improved retention rates, increased employee engagement, reduced turnover and successful succession planning.

If your employee checks off 75% of these boxes, you have a high performer on your hands.

  • Takes Initiative

Taking initiative is a sure sign of a high performer. Employees whose managers observe them taking up new projects in their downtime, or employees who to go management to ask for more responsibilities added to their plate are demonstrating their eagerness to help the company. However, eagerness by itself isn’t enough to identify a high performer, they have to have the skills to back it up.

  • Improves Processes

In order to improve a process, an employee has to understand a process and the nuances of it. An employee who takes the initiative to remove bottlenecks and improve workflow is directly impacting productivity and ultimately the bottom line of the company.

  • Practices Active Listening

Listening is an underrated quality in the workplace. However, it is necessary for an employee to be successful. An employee who listens is more likely to be productive. Active listening, the practice of truly hearing what your peers are saying, is a valuable tool as employees can use this skill to better their relationships with both their coworkers, team members and important clients.

  • Asks Questions

If an employee isn’t asking questions, then they aren’t listening. No task is so simple that it doesn’t warrant a few follow-up questions. Also, in order to get to a place where an employee can take initiative and improve processes, they need to start with asking the right questions to understand the business and the processes already in place.  

  • Is a Team Player

A high performing employee must be a team player. High performance means nothing if the employee is unable to apply their skills in a group setting. Learning to play well with others is a skill that is taught early in childhood and is sometimes lost in adulthood. However, inspiring and guiding a team to success is an invaluable skill in the workplace.

  • Demonstrates Creativity

A high performing employee that has listened and asked the right questions should be able to take what they have learned and apply it creatively. “Out-of-the-box” thinking is crucial in today’s competitive economy. Employee voices need to be relied upon to present new ideas, new ways of thinking and new ways of doing in order to remain competitive in the marketplace.

Checklist High performance talent

  • Asks for Feedback

A high performing employee will want to know where their performance currently stands and how they can improve. Striving for constant improvement is a hallmark of an ambitious professional. Smart employees know that intellect and people skills won’t get you far if you aren’t checking in to make sure that your goals align with the company mission.

  • Makes the Tough Decisions

Having the courage to make a decision that is either risky or unpopular is a sign of a high performer. Avoiding making difficult decisions is linked to a fear of failure, laziness, or being overwhelmed by the scope of responsibilities. Productive employees will face a problem head-on and made the decision needed to move a project further along.

  • Takes Responsibility

As the oft quoted saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Employees who know when to own up when a project that is over-budget and overdue are showing strength of character. Employees who pass the blame onto their team members or coworkers Successful employees learn and grow from failure and know to take ownership of both their failures and their successes.



Did we leave anything off the list? What do you look for in a high performance employee? Let us know by tweeting @Connex