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Career Advice: 4 Key Traits of High Performing Researchers

Want to know what does it take to be a researcher in Gartner’s team? Research Director, Rohan Mahashabde shares the key traits of high-performing researchers in his team.

September 08, 2020

Written by: Rohan Mahashabde, ‎Research Director

At Gartner, we work in an environment that promotes creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, client-centricity, and a one-team mindset. Nothing symbolizes success better at Gartner than a researcher’s ability to continually learn, question everything, push their peers thinking, and work and win as a team. If you are passionate about pursuing a career in research, here are four key traits that will help you stand out.

Passion for learning: High-performing researchers are innately passionate about their work, area of research, or exploration and are eager to learn what they don’t know. They are self-starters and seek information they need to build their point of view. They frequently engage with senior leaders and are not afraid to ask questions, no matter how elementary. What’s noteworthy is how they view this as an opportunity to learn and grow. This desire to learn something new ensures that they stay current within their area of training or expertise, working actively to remain at the edge of knowledge and thinking.

Doing the right thing for the client: A critical tenet of our work is client-centricity – ensuring everything we create provides value to the client and helps them deliver on their mission-critical priorities. High-performing researchers make an almost disproportionate effort in understanding client priorities, challenges, and, most importantly, the client’s microenvironment. Their ability to empathize with the client makes them a champion for the client’s needs, and they always use this to center the research. They are vocal and passionate about taking a position or defending an idea that benefits the client, even if it is unusual or challenges conventional wisdom. They are committed to delivering value to the client in everything they produce and in every client interaction. 

Building relationships and winning as a team. Building relationships is essential to be successful as a researcher at Gartner. The most successful researchers develop strong relationships with other employees to gather information and valuable knowledge. High-performing researchers are not always the smartest people in the room. They are the ones who know how to tap into their network and will learn all they can from the other smart people in the room. However, leveraging the network to collect information on a research topic is just one side of the equation. You can give back to the network that will make you stand out. High-performing researchers understand the importance of winning as a team and act as a “force multiplier,” teaching and coaching their team members and raising the performance bar for their peers. They understand the unique insight everyone brings to the discussion and build on the ideas to deliver high-value content.

Organized to deliver results. Research can be quite ambiguous, with unclear steps and a high probability of scope creep. I have seen that the top-performing researchers thrive by this ambiguity. They are great at self-management, approaching day-to-day work in a goal-directed way, avoiding distraction, over-analysis, and delay as a result of “pursuing perfection.” They often take an entrepreneurial approach to work, breaking down ambiguous projects into manageable components, and display good judgment. An organized approach ensures that their work plans are achievable despite competing demands and limited time.

These innate abilities differentiate top performers from the rest because their contributions are insightful and enhance the team’s performance, product area, and the firm as a whole.

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