by The John Maxwell Company
The cream always rises to the top.
That’s true, but what do you do with it once you spot it? High potential employees make up about 3-5% of your company’s talent and you’re likely watching them rise and enjoying their ascent — but just watching isn’t enough. These employees are hardwired to develop their talents as far as they can take them and will seek new challenges to conquer when they feel complacent. In other words, if you fail to recognize and develop your high potential employees, they’ll likely get bored and leave. Then you’re left with not only losing that core talent but having to compete with the employer that picked them up!
At the same time, high potentials are, true to their name, full of potential. The key to developing that potential and keep them engaged is to understand that not only do they need coaching, but they require more of it than typical employees.
Eager to learn. High potential employees have it encoded in their DNA to never stop learning, but it is vital to plan their training so they can develop in the most meaningful way for the job at hand. Creating a customized training experience while providing an environment that supports growth and shows that learning is a lifelong endeavor will pave the way for high potentials to shine on the path to become tomorrow’s leaders.
Peer groups for safe sharing. High potential employees expect more of themselves and view their roles with a much wider lens than core employees. That perspective should be nurtured but is easily constrained when they cannot share their thoughts, successes, and failures with like-minded team members. Introducing them to people that share their outlook both inside and outside the company can make feel safer to share. It also gives them the freedom to bounce ideas off one another and truly shine.
Safe Failure. For most employees, failure is negative. Executives know that the road to growth and success is wrought with risk and the only way to progress is to fail and learn from it. The best companies create an environment where people are given room to fail safely. This allows them to learn from their mistakes and more important teaches them they are not infallible. Self-awareness and experience will help them build their decision-making skills.
Build goal accountability. Employees who set high goals for themselves often do so well beyond corporate expectations. That’s great, but it also makes them accountable only to themselves — and it’s easy to let yourself down without fear. Help them reach the lofty goals they set for themselves by providing external accountability to keep them on track. Push them outside their comfort zones, but not outside their strength zones to get them to exercise the right muscles and achieve all they can.
It can seem counter intuitive to spend extra time to develop your high potential employees. But Peer groups, the freedom to fail, organized training and external accountability are core aspects of the different coaching they need to thrive.