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Are you a high performer or a workaholic?

Yes, there’s a big difference between the two. While the two may both look like they’re working hard, high performers have a more effective, sustainable work ethic. Workaholics on the other hand, have higher stress levels and are perfect candidates for burnout. From the outside, high performers and workaholics both seem like they’re delivering the same performance. But if you look closely, they have very different work styles and perspectives on how to “succeed.”


According to researcher and author Jullien Gordon, “the big difference is how the individual feels on the inside about who they are in [relation] to their work,” He also adds that a high performer works hard in “healthy sustainable ways and feels happy and inspired.” Meanwhile, a workaholic “works hard in unhealthy unsustainable ways and feels unhappy and burned out.”

Let’s clarify this further by identifying their crucial differences.

1. A workaholic needs others to feel their worth. A high performer knows his or her value.

A typical workaholic depends on external validation from the people around him. This may be his boss, co-workers, or clients. They wait eagerly for external evaluations (annual reviews, mid-year reviews) because it allows them to understand how well they are performing. The result of this attitude is a person who constantly works with a sense of fear. Afraid of getting notices, scolded, or rated poorly.

On the other hand, a high performer knows his or her self-worth and often works with a sense of freedom. Unlike the workaholic who relies on external validation, a high performer often creates a self-feedback system that loops and constantly checks himself. They don’t go around waiting for a pat on the back. Due to their attitude, the congratulatory gestures from others, often come naturally.

2. Workaholics are busy. High performers do business.

According to Gordon, “Workaholics fill any space in time with busy work because they feel insecure doing nothing.” Again, this stems from not knowing their own value. Their goal is to busy (or appear busy) at all times. Often, they think that the busier they appear, the more important they must be.

A high performer however is aimed at doing real business. They are very results-oriented. “If they can’t see a way to create value in the moment, they facilitate or strategize instead. They know that like the economy, business comes in waves, therefore they get ready during the dips so they can capitalize during the upswings.”

3. High performers bring 100% at the right time. Workaholics give 110% ALL the time.

High performers know that bringing 110% 24×7 is unsustainable. What they do is figure out the best, most perfect, most crucial time to give it everything they’ve got. This way, they can conserve their energy and efforts into activities that will yield the most results. It’s a tactical decision. A calculated move.

To better themselves, what they do is increase their capacity and skill so that their 100% is better than their competitor’s 110%.

So which of these are you? Are you a high performing construction manager who knows how to expertly manage his time and efforts? Or are you a workaholic who’s always afraid of being idle and getting reprimanded?

Don’t just work hard. Work “smart”.

In order for you to manage your time, attention and resources better, you need to employ the right tools and the right technology. Project managers and construction superintendents, for example, can use digital schedulers that can sync tasks semalessly, produce reports instantly, and send project updates remotely.

Check out the benefits of SAM – The Superintendent’s Automated Manager and become the high performer that you should be.