An employee’s ability to stay focused on tasks that matter is what differentiates their performance.

Seventy-two percent of 516 employers surveyed use management assessments to help make executive promotion decisions—nearly twice the number who said they were doing so in a 2010 survey. Organizations who use employee assessments are looking for one thing: high performers. People who drive outstanding results and take ownership of their work. Candidates are put into a variety of situations and evaluated based on their response. For example, they may be given a sample of a cluttered inbox and asked to rank the importance of various requests or to identify what they would work on first.

What they’ve learned

There is a finite amount of time available in a work day. Interruptions are frequent and it’s easy to get pulled off task. While top performers have varied backgrounds, experience and specialties, their ability to prioritize, recognize, perform and stay focused on tasks that advance organizational goals is the one thing they all have in common.

Activity is not productivity

It’s easy to mistake a busy employee for a productive one. Someone can work ferociously hard on unimportant tasks. So when you set priorities for your organization, focus first on the customer, then the entire organization, then teams, then individuals. When you determine what people are working on, you’ll probably notice that your top priorities are not being prioritized while less valuable tasks are.

Organizational priorities trump individual ones

Let’s say you’ve got a few people working in a department as a team when the person working on the most important project gets pulled off for an urgent task or meeting. No one realizes that he or she has been pulled away and he or she has not communicated the need for someone else to step in, so everyone else continues to work on lower priority items. Deadlines are missed. Goals aren’t met. The team fails.

Set a hierarchy for communication

There is a hierarchy within a team that must be followed. Communication between members of a team and between different teams is critical because it ensures that highest priority work is always being done first. It’s always the focus. Strategically aligning top organizational priorities and clearly communicating them to all levels is key to good decision making. When priorities and a process for communication are established, teams will be able to work together to ensure that the organization’s biggest priorities are always the top priority.


Top performers are top performers because they don’t focus on their individual priorities. They are aware of and able to focus on the priorities of the organization and break them down into what that means for their team. The team then breaks that down into individual responsibilities. When you establish priorities and give employees ownership, you empower them to meet and exceed organizational goals. You become a high-performance work team.

The Dorsey Group’s high-performance framework is designed to transition organizations from their current performance level to a much higher level of performance. Our work teams can unleash your teams’ potential by developing a working culture that promotes ownership, accountability and purpose. Contact us today and discover how every member of your organization can become a top performer.