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Article: Two Secrets of High Performance Employees Related Resources

Two Secrets of High Performance Employees
by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.

A high performance employee has a number of skills and behaviors that others do not. Two secrets of his high levels of performance are:

1. He has additional knowledge and information not possessed by, although available to, other employees.

A top performer does not rely solely on the information and data directly and immediately provided for any particular job. He uses it as a starting point for acquiring “know-how” and “know-about.” He makes it his business to find all the organization’s informational resources -- databases, manuals and other print publications, audio/video publications and even other knowledgeable employees. He builds his own knowledge base from those resources and then continuously adds to it from outside sources.

He is the kind of employee who knows how his job relates to the work of others within his department, affects others in other departments and impacts the organization as a whole. He also knows how it is done in other organizations. No matter his level in the organization, he is able to use his knowledge to constantly improve his own performance and productivity. He is the kind of employee who when playing the training game of “One hundred uses of a brick,” completes a list in about five minutes.

2. He is creative and inventive.

No organization can supply all the job aids (tools, devices, techniques) that any given employee needs. Despite the accuracy and comprehensiveness of any job description, the demands and circumstances of the workplace are constantly changing.

When a top performer discovers that the practices or implements at his disposal are inadequate, he invents the job tools, techniques, devices, implements, practices or systems necessary to do or improve his work. It could be as simple as making a workflow chart to keep his production on track or as complicated as designing a computer program to automate a process. And generally employees who are inventive are adept at using the resources already at hand in a new way, avoiding added expenses.

I know an attorney who applied both of these secrets to enhance his performance. Prior to the widespread use of computers, he made an extensive index card database of case law in his particular specialty, organized by conceptual keywords. His clients and subordinates were always impressed with his ability to produce, almost immediately, relevant information on past decisions and probable outcomes of actions. His ability to quickly write briefs that were comprehensive and yet succinct was outstanding -- and the result of his little secret database.

Another man I know is practically legendary for coming up with new processes and devices using common tools and practices in non-traditional ways. He makes custom slipcovers, pillows, bedding and other related goods. And he trains others in how to do that. The ideas he’s generated include:

1) Use common household electric knife to cut foam for cushions rather than a $300 professional tool that’s really only necessary for heavy daily industrial use. 2) Wrap foam in plastic wrap and use a vacuum cleaner to suck air directly out of the foam to compact it for packaging (same principle as commercially available compaction bags, but without need for a bag).

Self-motivated and innovative employees like those are worth way more than their weight in gold. If you have them in your organization, treasure them. If you want to be one -- you know now know two of the secrets.


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