It’s no surprise managers rate top performers as their most valuable employees. But what might not be as obvious is the massive impact a top performer has on the organization.
A new study by VitalSmarts revealed employees rated by their managers as 9s and 10s on a 10-point performance scale are three times more valuable to the organization than the average employee.
The study of 1,594 managers and employees, conducted by VitalSmarts’ researchers David Maxfield and Justin Hale, also revealed that productive employees are not only more valuable, but they are also responsible for 61% of the total work done in their departments.
Even more surprising is that while 10s do more work, it’s not at the expense of their sanity or work/life balance. In fact, 83% of managers and 77% of peers say a 10’s work habits reduce his/her stress. Three out of four leaders also say 10s experience less or about the same stress levels as lower-performing employees. Overall, both managers and peers say 10s work smarter, not necessarily harder.
So what are these stress-reducing, performance-enhancing habits demonstrated by top performers?
Maxfield and Hale asked managers and peers to describe the positive work habits 10s demonstrate along with the not-so-positive work habits of average performers. After categorizing the habits, they found that 10s demonstrate stellar communication and productivity practices. Common phrases used in each category include:
- Top Performers: “Ask for help,” “Not afraid to ask questions,” “Know who to go to,” and “Know when to ask.”
- Average Performers: “Lack of communication,” “Slow to respond,” “Don’t listen,” and “Complain.”
- Top Performers: “Organized,” “Good time management,” “Attention to detail,” “To do lists,” “Keep track of,” “Block time on their calendar,” “Prioritize,” and “Stay on top of their work.”
- Average Performers: “Not enough time,” “Lack of attention,” “No follow through,” “Too busy,” “Late,” “Disorganized,” “Don’t meet deadlines,” and “Not on task.”
Maxfield says learning the productivity skills demonstrated by top performers is key to both personal and organizational success.
“The message in this research is that a very small number of self-management practices literally change a person’s life and are also beneficial to the organization,” says Maxfield. “They dramatically improve performance while also reducing stress.”
VitalSmarts’ research shows when you compare people who consistently demonstrate key productivity skills with those who don’t, productive people are:
- 55 times less likely to start projects that never get finished,
- 21 times less likely to experience tasks and responsibilities falling through the cracks,
- Never likely to miss deadlines or assignments,
- 17 times less likely to have an inbox with too many unread e-mails,
- 18 times less likely to feel overwhelmed, and
- 21 times less likely to feel anxious and/or worry they forgot something.
Hale says this research is key for managers looking to increase the performance of their team.
“Productivity is more than just being busy,” says Hale. “Employees who learn to manage their workload quickly and efficiently don’t just get more done, they get more of the right things done. They stop carrying the weight and anxiety of work and free up their time and mental capacity for new and better ideas. It’s a win-win for both the individual and the business.”