The top 5 qualities that lead to high job performance

Written by Amie Lawrence, Ph.D., former Director of Global Innovation
Previously published by PSI Talent Management or Cubiks, prior to becoming Talogy.

Each year, a fresh crop of college graduates look to enter the workforce, searching for jobs with varying degrees of success. Some graduates with a strong academic record (e.g. a first or upper second degree) will quickly find a job and succeed, while others will not. Some graduates with a mediocre academic record will flourish in the workplace. What is the discrepancy? Why isn’t academic success and job success the same? What is it that employers really want?

I study job performance and ‘things’ that predict job performance. I have listened to many hiring managers and executives talk about what they want in an employee. While it can differ from industry to industry and job to job, many desirable qualities are universal. These qualities are not always the same qualities that are necessary for success in a school setting. The US Grade Point Average (GPA) system is not a strong predictor of job performance because it isn’t a proxy for intelligence as many people assume.

Even if a student entering the workforce is bright, it often isn’t enough. Organisations want well-rounded, cooperative and dependable employees. Listed below are my picks for the top five qualities that lead to high job performance and success throughout a career:

1) Ability to learn

Every organisation has a specific set of knowledge that every employee will need to acquire to be successful at their job. Whether it’s learning technical knowledge, specific work processes or how to effectively operate in the organisation, being able to acquire it and get up to speed quickly is very desirable to most organisations. It is after the initial learning curve that organisations start to receive a return on their recruitment investment. The shorter that curve is (i.e., high ability to learn), the more successful new recruits are in their new jobs.

2) Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is a personality trait encompassing many characteristics desirable to organisations. People who are high in conscientiousness are dependable and reliable. These people are more likely to follow through, work hard, pay attention to details, and plan and organise their tasks. Let’s be honest, organisations like employees who work hard for them, come in reliably and those willing to go the extra step to make the organisation better.

3) Interpersonal skills

For most jobs, you do not need to be an extrovert, but it is important to get along with others. In many organisations, you will be part of a team. New hires need to work with others on their team and across departments. Sometimes team members disagree; how these disagreements are handled makes a big difference in job performance. Successful employees are typically cooperative, diplomatic and tactful.

4) Adaptability

Things change. Processes change, jobs change, priorities change, markets change, leaders change…things change. It’s important for employees to be able to adapt and continue to be effective even when changes are occurring. Organisations are looking for people who can roll with the punches and keep up with the demands of their jobs.

5) Integrity

Honesty. Morality. Virtue. Organisations want to be able to trust their employees. They want employees who will not lie, cheat or steal. There is nothing more valuable to organisations than their intellectual property; leaders want new recruits who they can trust to not give away company secrets. This also means making the right decisions for the company and looking out for the organisation’s best interest.

So, if you’re on the job market, remember these characteristics. Share examples in the recruitment process that illustrate how you have displayed these behaviours in the past. If you are in a position to recruit this year’s new crop of talent, how do you ensure that you’re bringing in people with these traits? Clearly, relying on GPA or its equivalent in other countries will not work. Rather, build measures of these traits into your selection system. Measure these traits with validated assessment content and well developed, structured behavioural-based interviews. High performing employees possess many desirable characteristics; make sure you’re looking for them all.

Changing success criteria

What will be important and why?

The world of work is constantly evolving: from the digital disruption of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the seismic impact of the recent pandemic, to a long- overdue focus on building diverse and inclusive organisations.

To deal with this continuous disruption and change, your workforce will need to be able to cope, adapt, and perform in different ways to be effective, and your recruitment strategies need to align.

In this report, you’ll learn:

  • The seven core competencies repeatedly cited in the review of over 10,000 assessments as key for success across a variety of roles over the last ten years
  • The seven competencies that will be critical for success over the next ten years
  • Why these competencies will be required for future organisational success

Are you ready to discover which competencies are essential to survive and thrive in the reshaped world of work?

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changing success criteria in the reshaped world of work cta research report cover