• Angela Scalpello

Are you a high-performer or high maintenance?


Do you consider yourself a high performer? How do you know? What exactly does a high performer look like? Here's one way to assess whether you are a high performer or high maintenance

Back in the days when we worked with graphic service companies to create collateral and other design work, we used to say that you could get Fast, Cheap and Quality but you could never have all three at the same time. Why?

Well if it was fast and high quality it probably wasn't cheap (rush charges, etc). If it was cheap and fast, it probably wasn't high quality. And if it was cheap and quality then it probably wasn't fast.

So how does that translate to employee performance? Well if you want to be considered an outstanding employee you need all three of the following:

  • High quality of work product

  • High quantity of work product (your output)

  • Appropriate level of supervision.

Here's how it works. If you produce high quality work, with a minimum amount of supervision but you don't produce enough, you're not a high performer. If you produce a large quantity of work with the appropriate level of supervision but the work is not the quality your organization and its customers expect then you're not a high performer either. And here's what I mean by high maintenance: if you produce high quality work and a large quantity of it but in order to do so you need much more supervision, counseling, conversations and direction and hand-holding from your manager than appropriate for your level, then you're also not a high performer. And if your work style is high drama, conflict-generating and diva-like, then you are most definitely high maintenance.

Now let's say you produce high quality work, a large amount of it and with the appropriate level of supervision. Are you a high performer then? Yes, but only if you have the "c" word and that word is "consistency." Consistently producing a high quantity of high quality work with the appropriate level of supervision from your manager makes you a high performer and an outstanding and valued employee.

So are you in the high performing category? Does your manager see you that way? One of the ways to answer this question is to spend some time reflecting on the past year and what and how you've delivered for the business. How much direction, guidance or coaching from your manager did you need in order to do so and is that the appropriate amount given your level and role? How do you think your manager would answer the same questions?

Now I know we've been living through a pandemic and the past 19 months have overturned and changed any number of things. I also acknowledge that employers are dealing with a high number of resignations and difficulties in finding candidates to hire. But if the question "Are you a high performer or high maintenance?" still is valid and I believe it is, then employers, beware the high maintenance employee and individuals, know that high performers are always in demand.


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