How To Identify Exceptionally Talented Staff

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Identifying talented staff is important — it helps a business to make full use of their skills and abilities. But there are different degrees of talent. Many businesses have plenty of good, capable staff that are hard-working, reliable and can do their jobs effectively.

But many businesses are also lucky enough to have a few exceptionally talented staff who regularly go the extra mile. These people can have a hugely positive impact on those around them, as well as their organisation’s performance. Better yet, they can transform a business and the way it does things.

Hopefully you have created a culture in your organisation that both attracts and retains your good staff. They are extremely valuable for a business so when you find them, the last thing you want to do is lose them.

Here are some ways you can spot exceptionally talented people in your workplace.  They may not have these characteristics, but they’ll have quite a few of them at the very least.


They don’t just do what’s listed in their job description

Exceptionally talented staff aren’t afraid to take the initiative or to lend a hand to solve a problem, even if it’s something that isn’t in their job description. You need to make sure you aware of this when it happens, because it might not necessarily show up in your talented staff member’s performance appraisal metrics.  You also need to reward this effort when it occurs. The reward doesn’t have to be financial, it can be a non-financial reward like a company award or public praise during a meeting.

They don’t just meet their targets, they exceed them

Of course, talented staff do the tasks that are listed in their job description very well. That’s one of the things that helps you identify their talent, but it’s certainly not the only thing. They tend to be achievement-oriented and aren’t motivated to just meet the targets set — they want to exceed them. Their personality traits make them naturally high-achievers. Stretch targets can be a useful way of helping to keep them motivated and to reach their full potential. They focus on results.

They are positive people

Talented people tend to believe in their ability and it’s no different for talented staff in the workplace. They will have a “can do” attitude and like to prove doubters wrong. Their positivity will often rub off on the people around them, creating a positive organisational culture. And there is ample research to indicate that positive workplace cultures improve organisational productivity and performance. Importantly, if talented staff do have any workplace issues or disagreements, they have the maturity to handle them calmly and privately. They don’t create negativity by publicly criticising decisions or openly discussing sensitive issues.

They thrive on a challenge

Exceptional staff will thrive on a challenge. It’s in their nature to enjoy it. They are also likely to view a problem as an opportunity and to have the resilience to persevere and overcome setbacks. Their intrinsic motivation (drive) to succeed means that they will usually be willing to innovate and take calculated risks. They don’t give up easily and will likely come up with creative potential solutions to problems.

They aren’t afraid to change things for the better

Talented staff often have ideas on how things could be changed for the better. They aren’t stuck in traditional ways of thinking, or the past. Instead, they actively look for future opportunities to improve things and they don’t resist change. They’ll ask questions and be prepared to push the envelope to drive any necessary change.

They aren’t easily satisfied (in a positive sense)

They will adjust a work flow, tweak a process or invent a new way of doing things. Talented staff look for opportunities, it’s just in their nature. They don’t rest on their achievements for long.

They look for ways to continually improve themselves

Training and development opportunities are welcomed by talented staff. They believe in the philosophy of continuous improvement, both personally and professionally. Because they are usually achievement-oriented, talented staff will look to continually develop their skills and to gain new ones to improve their performance. And they will firmly believe they can always improve.

They are a team player

Exceptionally talented people are typically great team players, even if they are already leaders in your business. They have the emotional intelligence to develop productive working relationships with a wide variety of people, both within your business and outside of it (e.g. with your customers and suppliers). Being great collaborators, they also recognise the positive contributions of other team members, and give credit where it’s due. And if they aren’t a leader in your organisation (yet), they are likely to positively influence your other staff through their performance and relationship-building skills.

They act as role models

The actions of exceptionally talented staff match their words. They “walk the talk” and demonstrate high ethical standards, promoting a positive organisational culture through their workplace behaviour.

They think strategically and have business acumen

Talented staff can usually see “the big picture”. They demonstrate this by taking a strategic, long-term perspective in any actions they take or any decisions they make. It’s a key competency that typically enables them to sustain high performance in the workplace over the long term. They also understand how a business works, including the needs of its customers.

They are great communicators

Communication is one of the key skills that talented staff members use to influence others. They listen effectively and can present their ideas clearly, often motivating others to act. For example, a high-achieving salesperson can motivate a customer to buy through listening to their needs. They can then recommend a product to suit and motivate the customer to buy it. Internally within an organisation, talented staff often also provide useful feedback to help develop other staff and improve organisational performance. They can be great workplace mentors for this reason.

They have deep expertise

Exceptionally talented staff will have some specialist expertise or a skill that sets them apart. Others both inside and outside of the organisation rely on them, often seeking their expertise and knowledge. High achievers rarely let those people down.


Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below!

Ilmoitettu 7 heinäkuuta, 2017


Copywriter, Content Writer, Proofreader, Marketer.

Dunja is the Content & Email Manager at Freelancer HQ (Sydney). She is an Oxford graduate, and is the mother of a pet parrot called DJ Bobo.

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