12 Differences Between High Performers & Average Performers

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High performers versus average performers: What’s one difference that separates the two?

To help you distinguish between high performers and average performers, we asked people managers and CEOs for their best insights. From efficiency to motivation to asking questions, there are several traits that clearly differentiate between high performers and average performers in any given setting.

High Performers Are Efficient in Completing Tasks 

Usually, people answer this question with something like, “High performers go above and beyond to make the organization succeed.” I don’t think this applies anymore. I believe we can identify the difference between a high performer and an average person from the way they complete their assigned tasks/projects. 

A high performer finds the most efficient way to do something, which saves time, money and effort. They also extend this to other processes so their coworkers can learn and implement their efficient ways. This essentially isn’t going above and beyond as per our initial take — only the founders will ever go above and beyond at any given time. It’s not fair to expect other personnel to do the same. How we perceive good work and average work changes as times change. Work-life balance is a big factor today, and rightly so. With that in mind, efficient methods take over everything else when it comes to separating high performers from average performers.

Phil Strazzulla
Founder & CEO, SelectSoftware Reviews

High Performers Have a Strong Sense of Direction and Purpose

High performers typically have a strong sense of direction and purpose. They know what they want to achieve and they have a clear plan for how to get there. In contrast, average performers may have difficulty setting goals or may lack clarity about what they want to achieve. As a result, they often end up treading water instead of making real progress. A sense of direction is not something that everyone is born with, but it is something that can be developed. This can be done by setting goals, planning for the future and taking action steps toward those goals. With a strong sense of direction, high performers can achieve greater success in all areas of their life.

Antreas Koutis
Administrative Manager, Financer

Willingness to Fail and Try Again vs Fear of Pushing Boundaries 

A difference that separates high performers from average performers is the willingness to fail and try again. Average performers tend to be afraid of pushing boundaries with their thought equity, which then translates into average work. This can include avoiding collaboration with others, being too afraid to propose new ideas, or even just doing the bare minimum tasks each day at work. Pushing boundaries means taking more risks and potentially more tries, but this will always lead to producing better results. Success doesn’t happen overnight, and high performers will always get rewarded for their hard work that took place over the course of time by falling down and getting back up.

Saneem Ahearn
VP of Marketing, Colorescience

One Has a Growth Mindset and the Other a Fixed Mindset

The difference between high performers and average performers boils down to one simple thing: mindset. High performers have a growth mindset, while average performers have a fixed mindset. This is what separates the two groups. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve their skills through practice and hard work. They are constantly learning and trying to get better. People with a fixed mindset believe that their skills are set in stone. They think that they are either born with talent or they’re not. They don’t bother trying to improve because they think it’s not worth it. This is why high performers are always outperforming average performers. They have the right mindset and are willing to work hard to get better. Average performers don’t have that same drive and ambition, which is why they stay stuck in the middle of the pack.

Aviad Faruz

Average Performers Have a Negative Attitude That Hinders Teamwork

An employee’s attitude is the main differentiator between a high performer and average performer. A positive attitude encourages teamwork and the person will quickly recover and learn from any mistakes. We have all had experiences with an employee who has a negative attitude and a sense of entitlement — we generally do not enjoy working with them regardless of how skilled they are or their work experience.

Scott Baker
Founder and CEO, Stage 3 Leadership

Perfunctory Vs. Emotionally Invested

Average employees usually do the bare minimum. They execute their role as described in their job description – nothing more, nothing less. That’s not to say they aren’t efficient in their job.

The main aspect that separates high performers from average ones is their zeal for their job. High performers tend to be emotionally invested in their position. They’re often the ones working toward long-term goals like a promotion or salary increase. They see the job as a stepping stone to another level in their career. Average performers, on the other hand, are more short-sighted, possibly because they aren’t operating in their dream role.

Patrick Casey
Director of Growth Marketing, Felix

One is More Willing to Take on New Challenges While the Other is Slow to Change

I have found that a key difference that separates high performers from average performers is their willingness to take on new challenges. High performers are more willing to take on new challenges and learn new skills. They are not afraid of change and they know that it can be an opportunity for growth. Average performers, on the other hand, are more likely to stick with what they know and focus on their strengths. They have a hard time learning new skills because they worry about not being good enough or doing it right the first time around.

Brian Nagele
CEO, Restaurant Clicks

Consistency Differentiates High Performance from Average Performance

The main quality that separates high performers and average performers usually boils down to consistency. High performers aren’t always the employees who have impressive, fast results. They are the ones who can consistently provide reliable results, and who can moderate their output so they don’t burn out. Some stars burn bright and burn out fast, so be cautious of “high performers” who seem too good to be true. They probably are, and will burn out until they are simply average.

Gates Little
President & CEO, altLINE Sobanco

High Performers Are More Likely to Support Others

Think about the people you respect most. Chances are they are the people that respect others, help others, and are supportive. How is the experience with this high-performer commonly described? They use a coaching approach. They are charismatic.  The high-performer is inspirational. They empower others. High performers affirm people. They value each person. Being a high-performer is more than doing the work – it is how you are with the people at work.

Cathy Liska
CEO, Center for Coaching Certification

Passion Separates High Performers from Average Performers

The difference between a high performer and an average performer is the passion for the job. A high performer sees the job as doing something important and get a thrill out of beating out their last record. They are driven by advancement sometimes but also are driven by the idea they are making a difference in someone’s life or bettering their part of the world. An average performer sees the job as just a job. It’s a way to make money to do other things they want to do. They don’t hate it but don’t have a passion for it either.

Steve Mascarin
CEO, Taunton Village Dental

Motivation and Passion Differentiate High Performers from Average Performers

Many employees think working hard and putting in the hours makes them high performers in their employer’s eyes. Wrong. High performers leverage three things: What they do, how they do it and why you do it. 

What You Do: Yes, we all must put our heads down and put in the time to do the actual work. We must show we know our “stuff” – otherwise, why were we hired in the first place? This is the most basic and average performance. 

How You Do It: Based on what we know, we must show how we take the “stuff” to the next level to make the team / organization better. This is the start of above-average performance. 

Why You Do It: This shows passion for our work! We enthusiastically talk to others about our projects, innovations we created, and real (measurable) results we achieved based on the ‘What’ and ‘How.’  This is high performance. No matter your education level or experience, your What, How, and Why make all the difference!

Farah Jamil, MHA, CEC, ACC
Founder & CEO, Executive Coach & ADHD Coach, CoreGenesis Global Inc.

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