As published in Forbes.com
In your business, are you a top performer, or are you someone who wants to be a top performer? If you are neither of these, then find a new gig. There are a few patterns that I see from top performers across industries. Though I work quite often with those in the sales organization, I see these same behaviors from top professionals regardless of their position. Here are 3 areas top performing leaders will tackle in 2016.
Do The Work
In every organization you have two well-defined groups of people: One group tends to talk about the work, complain about the work, define the work, and delegate the work. The other group tends to DO the work. I don’t mean to downplay planning or discussions. However, ask yourself if you are the person whom others count on to get the job done. The indispensable employees in any organization are those who actually, when the time is right, roll up their sleeves to do the actual work. It isn’t always glamorous.
Are you likely to focus on whether or not a specific task is “your job,” or are you willing to take on any job to help the company or a customer. On a recent flight, the flight attendant could see that passengers were struggling to get luggage to fit in an overhead compartment. On other flights, the attendant would simply direct the passengers to figure it out. In this instance, she walked up the aisle and said “Let me help.” She reorganized the entire compartment, and did it all with a smile. Instead of making excuses or delegating to others, she decided to “do the work.”
When have you had an experience that stood out for you? What did the person or business delivering the service do? In most every case, it’s a simple element of exceeding expectations. When Zappos says they will send your shipment in two days, but it arrives overnight, you are blown away. Do you deliver “to the contract” or beyond it? Do you do your job “as expected” or above expectations? Whether your client is an internal customer (co-worker) or an external customer, top performers constantly think of ways to do a little bit more. The difference, I find, is that the top performers go above and beyond intentionally.
As a good step, make a list of the common functions you provide. Then think of what “additional” things you can do to improve the experience. Think in terms of “what comes just before or just after” your task. Sometimes just suggesting one, small extra element can be the difference between a good experience and an exceptional one.
How do your capabilities differ today than they did a year ago? How much are you learning each year? The top professionals across industries tend to be those who are constantly in pursuit of additional knowledge. If you are an avid reader, identify business books that will build new skills or perspectives. Don’t like to read? Try audiobooks or podcasts. If that doesn’t work for you, try to learn through videos.
The most common excuse for not learning is that you “don’t have time.” Recognize that you make time for the things that are most important to you. Saying you don’t have time means it is not a priority. You can listen to a podcast or audiobook during your commute, in the shower, or while exercising.
The top performers always seem to make time to build their skills. You can either wait for someone else to share their knowledge with you, or you can take charge to put yourself ahead of the curve. Pick one new source of learning each month in the coming year. A good business book might take five or six hours of dedicated reading or listening. If you simply spent fifteen minutes per day, you’d exceed one book per month. My podcast episodes run an average of thirty minutes per episode (which is close to the average commute time). Could you find one day per week to learn from guests who are willing to share their expertise for free?
It sounds simple, but the ideas of 1) Do the work; 2) Exceed expectations; and 3) Seek knowledge are common attributes that the top performers demonstrate every day. It’s not luck, as each requires discipline and attention. However, none of these elements requires extraordinary innate talent. Instead, the top performers are purposeful with their actions. Are you up for the challenge?
It’s Your Turn
What other attributes do you see in top performers? Share your list of commitments for 2016, and I’ll happily email you back to hold you accountable. And, I’ll share what I am committing to do in 2016 and ask that you do the same.