How to Get a Government Job Promotion:

Being Perceived as a High Performer

What makes a top performer? And how can you be seen as a top performer in your organisation and get to the front of the queue for your next promotion?

It doesn't have to be a guessing game, a study by Alexander Mann Solutions has singled out a few key traits that top performers display.


Productivity was rated as the overall most important trait that an individual could have (or be seen as having) to be rated as a top performer. However there were some differences depending upon the level of the individual within the organisation.

Length of Service

Length of service, something often seen as important by employees who have a long serving relationship with one employer, was actually ranked as least important in the list of traits. When surveyed, 69% of respondents ranked it as least important.

For Executives

For executives, 'leadership skills' were rated as the most important trait. Educational qualifications were barely mentioned which shows that at the executive level qualifications are outrun by skills and experience.

For Managers

For managers, 'leadership skills' was also the highest rated traits, closely followed by 'management experience'.

For Graduates

For graduates, educational qualifications and results were most important.

Skills That You Can Work On

Given that 'productivity' is the highest rated trait for high performers, the number one thing you can work on is your productivity.  The good news is, this trait isn't dependent on talent or ability, it's all about how you do things on a daily basis.

There are a few simple things you can do to increase your productivity to be seen as a high achiever, and here they are:

1.  Control Your Environment.

Most people are bullied and reactive to their environment. An email comes in and they switch focus from the present task to seeing who the email was from. The phone rings and the task is abandoned to take care of the phone call. Someone wants a question answers so everything is dropped so this person is taken care of.

The most obvious things you can do (if allowable in your position) is to only check your emails at certain times of the day, switch your phone to messagebank during important tasks and make it clear to your colleagues the times of day that you are available to assist them.

By controlling your environment you will be able to eliminate time wasting behaviours and tasks and be more focused on the work in front of you.

2. Be Present in the Task.

Controlling your environment will allow you to become more focussed on the task at hand, which will in turn help you to be present in the task.  When you're working on a task, be present in the task and entirely focussed on the task.  Leave thoughts of other things on your to do list until later.  See how immersed you can become in the report, analysis or project that you are working on.

Being present also reduces stress levels because you feel in charge of what you are doing and it is a trait that has been linked to effective leadership. So, if you are also wanting to improve your leadership skills you've just killed two birds with one stone.

3. Stop Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking, in most situations, is actually a hinderance to productivity. It is the opposite of controlling your environment and being present in the task. Multi-tasking is the enemy of focus because it actually means that you are focussing poorly on lots of things and not well on any one thing.

People who try to complete lots of tasks at the same time traditionally take longer to complete all of the tasks than someone who was to complete one task at a time.

And in addition, executive level leaders rarely multi-task.

This is a fairly controversial topic since most of us have been taught that multi-tasking is good. I'll be writing an in depth article about it soon, with workplace research to back it up.

4. Be Innovative

Providing solutions to people's problems is the quickest way to get the 'productive label'. It doesn't have to be anything mind blowing, and could be as simple as jotting down problems that your work area or clients are having and trying to come up with a simple solution when you have a few minutes spare.

These simple changes; controlling your environment, being present in the task, not multi-tasking and being innovative will all increase your productivity.

Things That You Can Do

Becoming more productive is no use if no one notices.

1.  Tell someone about your achievements!

That doesn't mean bragging around the office. You need the right people to know, not just anyone and everyone.

  • Who are the influencers in your organisation?
  • Who is most likely to be on a selection panel the next time a higher level position comes up in your area (or an area you would like to work in?)
  • Who are the managers who can mentor you?
  • Who are the people that you want to notice you?

These are the people who need to know about your achievements and high levels of productivity. It could be as simple as getting them to look over a draft of something you're working on, sending them an email if you've had a success or sitting down and talking with them about how you're feeling really productive at the moment and would like to know what you can do to prepare for the next step up.

In addition to this, if you focus on being innovative (point 4 above) then these people are eventually going to find out about your value from others who are praising your efforts to make their work life easier. Or... could you go one step further and come up with a solution to their problem?

2. Focus on your achievements in your statements addressing selection criteria rather than the number of years you've been in a position or the amount of time you've done something.

This is fairly self explanatory. Given that top performers are rated on their productivity and not their length of service, you obviously want to focus on your achievements in your written application. The more achievements you have and the more hard facts you have to back them up, the better.

Moving Forward

Which of the four skills listed above will you work on first? Choose one, and think of a way to implement it next week.

Who are the people who need to know about your increased productivity and achievements? Spend the next week taking note of the important people and influencers that you work with.

More Help With Your Job Application:

How to write better selection criteria

How to research an organisation

Dealing with selection criteria that you don't meet