20 Characteristics of Top Talent

20 Characteristics of Top Talent


Your team might consist of supremely talented people but there are always a few that stand out. High potential employees will excel in their current role but will possess the necessary skills and knowledge to take the next step in their career in a more senior role such as a managerial position. So, how do you identify top talent? What should you look for in your employees? We share 20 characteristics of top talent that might make it easier for you to spot your high potential employees.


Identifying and Characteristics of Top Talent


  1. They’re good at their job

    Firstly, this seems like a no brainer when it come to characteristics of top talent but high potential employees are highly talented and produce consistently high levels of work. You can use 360 feedback to showcase their current career position and see if they have the resources to take on more challenging projects.

  2. They put their hand up for leadership opportunities

    Should a problem or situation arise and need to be solved. A high potential employee will want the opportunity to step up. They are seeking opportunities for growth and are not afraid to take on new challenges.

  3. Have the ability to work autonomously

    As a manager, you do not need to worry about how much progress they’re making on a project or where you’re at on a certain task. They just get things done and are reliable. More importantly, you have trust in them that they’ll get the job done.

  4. They have initiative

    They don’t wait around to be told what to do. They’re eager for more work and are always brainstorming on how to work more efficiently, new ideas etc. Should a project pop-up, inevitably they’re the first to volunteer.

  5. Show a passion and interest in where the company is going

    A high potential employee isn’t simply interested in just getting a wage from a job to pay their bills etc. They’re invested in the success of the company and ultimately care for the company’s future.

  6. They can perform under pressure

    Top talent is ready or more importantly can adapt to anything that comes their way. When things get a little heated at work, they remain cool, calm and collected. They don’t lose their composure. Furthermore, they actually thrive in high pressure, which is a desirable trait in a leader.

  7. They ask questions

    Because they’re invested in the success of the company. They’ll ask questions, they’re curious and inquisitive about the company strategy, decisions. Even if they’re not in a managerial position yet, they want to know the right decisions are being made. Support this inquisitive mindset and share as much information or resources as you can.

  8. Always looking to develop their knowledge and skills

    Some employees just go through the motions. On the other hand a star employee is always looking to learn new things both inside and outside the workplace. They consistently strive to be a better employee or version of themselves. So, make sure you provide them with the latest industry news and any learning opportunities or materials.

  9. A team player and helps others they can

    A high potential employee knows that they can’t achieve the overall company goal without the help of others. They’re a fantastic team player and will always help other employees when they can and lighten the load.

  10. Positive presence in the workplace & friends in the office

    They understand the need to create an enjoyable environment to work in. Yes, they have their bad like we all do, but overall they are positive and emanate positivity when they’re in the office.

  11. Can accept they’re not always right

    Everyone is wrong from time to time but having the ability to step back and analyze that they are wrong and a better plan of action by a colleague is the way to go and they fully support it. Leaders need to be flexible with a dynamic business environment and this is a very valuable skill.

  12. Ability to recognize others good/hard work

    A star performer is eager to become a leader. Thus, as a good leader they can recognize good work done by others. While it’s easy to take someone’s contributions for granted, they’ll ensure that their peers get the recognition for the work they’ve done.

  13. They have ambition and want to be recognized

    Like most employees, a high potential employee wants to not only be recognized for their work but also for their potential of becoming a senior member of staff. They are eager and self motivated to succeed. If they don’t feel there is a commitment from the company, they’ll take their talents elsewhere.

  14. They grow and excel with constructive feedback

    As they’re a high potential employee, they’re always looking to get better and delivering consistent and constructive feedback, both good and bad, will see them develop and improve even further.

  15. Clear on their career aspirations

    There is no fear of being kept in the dark about their career aspirations. They are vocal about where they see themselves going. Why are they vocal? They know they can’t get there alone. So support and guide them to succeed and benefit the company.

  16. Ability to work cross functionally

    A skilled member of the team can be counted on to do their work. It takes a leader to be able to work across multiple groups and teams.

  17. Trusted by their peers

    A high potential employee is trusted by their peers due to their dedication and hard work. Colleagues got to them for help, advice and should be viewed as a leadership opportunity.

  18. A high level of emotional intelligence

    Having a high level of emotional intelligence allows a star employee to monitor their own emotions along with the emotions of colleagues. This brings a level of empathy, which is vital for a leader and allows them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.

  19. They embody the company culture or the company culture you wish to cultivate

    They live and breathe the company and they’re the living embodiment of the company culture. Everything they do reinforces the company culture, which encourages their peers to do the same. As a result, the office culture is more enjoyable and as a collective the team becomes more productive.

  20. The want to be actively engaged

    High potential employees motivated and driven employees. The wheels are always turning and they can become disengaged or bored if not regularly challenged and supported.

Finally, I hope this guide allows you to identify the top talent in your organization. If you’d like more assistance, WorkCompass’s performance management software gives you the ability to identify your top talent easily, clearly and displays the characteristics of top talent in your organization. So, why not request a demo with one of our team.