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Weaker employees can learn from more productive colleagues


Top-rated employees were found to be responsible for 61% of the work done in their departments

Employees rated by their managers as nine or 10 out of 10 are considered three times more valuable to the organisation than the average employee, according to research from leadership training company VitalSmarts.

The study of 1,594 managers and employees, conducted by VitalSmarts’ researchers David Maxfield and Justin Hale, found that these top-rated employees are responsible for 61% of the total work done in their departments.

Managers were asked to describe the positive work habits these valuable employees demonstrate along with the less positive work habits of average performers. After categorising the habits they found that the high performers demonstrate stellar communication and productivity practices. Common phrases used to describe them included "not afraid to ask questions", “organised", and “good time management".

Common words used to describe more average employees were “late", “disorganised", “slow to respond” and “too busy".

Compared with weaker workers, the top-rated employees were found to be less stressed. The majority (83%) of managers and 77% of peers said a 10’s work habits reduce their stress. Those displaying top productivity skills were found to be 21 times less likely to feel anxious or worry they forgot things and 18 times less likely to feel overwhelmed when compared with their less effective colleagues.

Maxfield said learning the productivity skills demonstrated by top performers is key to both personal and organisational 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 organisation,” he said. “They dramatically improve performance while also reducing stress.”

Hale added that this research is interesting for managers looking to increase the performance of their team. “Productivity is more than just being busy,” he said. “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.”