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How to Identify Your Top Performers (Especially During a Crisis)

It’s more important than ever to understand who your top performers are and how they’re adding value to your brand.

Coronavirus has placed us all in unchartered territory and made us rethink and adapt our business plans.

We are all adjusting and the general consensus is that we won’t return to ‘normal’. We must deal with this new reality and think creatively, innovatively and strategically if we are going to be successful on the other side.

In the past few months, we’ve helped plan the next steps with our clients and hosted live online conversations with industry leaders about the future of retail.

One key takeaway that has come out of every conversation is that leaders MUST understand who their top performers are if they are to survive this storm.

It’s critical to identify your key players - those who are able to react to emerging situations during this phase and quickly to new ways of working in the next phase.

In this article, we explore how your top performers set themselves apart during a crisis.

Combined Specialisms

One way to become irreplaceable in the current climate is by developing your skill set and knowledge in different areas - especially digital.

For a long time now, leaders have been seen as those with specific strengths, expertise and talents. One skill they did differently and better than everyone else.

This idea has become outdated and wasn’t a good factor in identifying top performers before the crisis, let alone now.

What makes an individual indispensable to your company? The answer is combined specialisms. For heritage brands, this is someone who can balance the rich history of the brand with the ability to modernise and innovate.

Customers aren’t binary, so leaders shouldn’t be. We need people who are comfortable operating in different areas and bridging the gaps between them.

Three great examples of this are:

  • People who can add value in both the digital AND physical spheres, as the retail landscape is dramatically changing.

  • People who can think creatively AND commercially. Someone who understands the heritage of the brand, what the customer wants and how to deliver this.

  • People with good technical AND leadership skills. Customer experience and mindset has shifted onto digital platforms, so you need people who can pivet strategies to capitalise on online opportunities.

Creativity and Innovation

Statistically creativity is not a skill there is an abundance of in corporations.

Too often, we’ve heard people say that ‘they’re just not a creative person’. But creativity isn’t a rare skill that belongs to a select group of people. It’s a skill that should be cultivated in every department.

Creative, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking is what allows people to adapt quickly to dynamic markets and trends.

Look for individuals who have taken advantage of this situation to find new ways of tackling challenges.

These will be the people who have stepped outside the day-to-day to devise novel solutions. And the people you need to guide your brand into the future as things continue to change at a rapid pace.

Ethics and Integrity

One of the rare positive outcomes of coronavirus is the compassion we’ve seen from brands big and small.

People are being put firmly before profits. And customers will remember the brands that went above and beyond to help others during this time of crisis.

Companies need individuals who work with honesty, integrity and high ethical standards, not only for the reputation of the organisation but going forward into the future.

Ethical decision making will help a brand’s long-term vision.

During times of crisis, you see who your ‘A’ players are, those with integrity, ethics, problem solving skills and flexibility in the face of uncertainty.

One of the pillars of every search we carry out is finding an individual who understands and is a match to your company culture. So bear in mind that your company culture and decisions you make now may reflect the talent you hire in the future.


Agile performers are able to take advantage of uncertainty and see the opportunities that exist in a crisis.

Look for those who think about what CAN be done in this situation and act quickly and decisively to offer solutions and different ways of working.

Agile leaders are able to identify new revenue streams and effectively navigate their business to rethink and achieve new long-term strategies.

Typically, 80% of your team will perform well during a crisis, while 20% will underperform.

Because of the current situation, identifying these individuals is easier. You can see who is combining specialisms, thinking innovatively and making ethical and agile decisions. These individuals are adding the real value to your business and will be crucial when driving it forward in the uncertain future.

If you need help building a team of top performers who will give you a competitive edge, get in touch.

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