High-Potential Employees: Why They’re Important and How to Find Them

Every organization actively hunts for high-potential (HiPo) employees. After all, they show high results in their work and take on complex projects that ordinary specialists cannot handle. 

HiPo workers have reached their personal potential and have mastered their profession. They don’t need constant supervision, and they crave more responsibility. Such people are equally perfect for both sides of professional activity: performing job duties and interacting with colleagues. These facets are equally important for a specialist in a managerial position. After all, managers should be able to organize their own work and motivate their subordinates. Here is our complete guide on how to find HiPo employees among your staff.

Who Is a HiPo Employee?

Potential is something that is hidden and unobservable, so it is quite a task to identify team members with high amounts of it.  HiPos are employees with a proactive attitude who strive to reach new levels and build their careers. As a result, they are faster and more efficient than others. Here is a list of features that your HiPo employees might have: 

  1. Pursuit of excellence. HiPos are active and ambitious; they pay attention to career advancement and the quality of their work. Employees with high potential often show initiative and solve problems independently without waiting for a manager’s instructions;
  2. Quick adaptation. When faced with uncertainty, a HiPo employee quickly estimates the situation and risks to make a plan of action. HiPo workers are willing to take risks and take responsibility for their decisions, regardless of the outcome;
  3. Consistency and performance. They take their goals and responsibilities seriously, act consistently, and demonstrate outstanding results;
  4. A thirst for knowledge. They are constantly learning and discovering something of value to the entire organization. They are attuned to finding new ideas; what’s more, they are capable of strategic thinking and processing large amounts of information;
  5. Leadership qualities. Talented workers help other employees develop and promote by providing feedback and support while valuing guidance and advice from mentors;
  6. A desire for hard work. A HiPo employee’s work processes are usually not limited to job descriptions. They are used to thinking for themselves and adapting to changing conditions. They can make quick decisions. If necessary, HiPo workers are willing to take on whatever work is needed to solve a problem for the sake of a better result;
  7. Friendliness. They maintain relationships with everyone. They often seek out mentors and advocates and like to get to know people personally.

It is worth noting that most HiPo workers are former students, recent college graduates, or aspiring professionals. They are willing to diligently perform simple basic tasks for a relatively small salary, learn new things, and actively participate in the company’s life.

High Performance vs. Professionalism

The earlier described factors can pinpoint such staff members from the crowd. However, it is easy to confuse them for people who show high performance and professionalism at work. It is because they perform well in their current sphere and within their competence. But they may not have the potential to advance further and explore new areas. It is the main difference between HiPo and professional employees. 

Highly professional team members are experts in their field who are not prepared to increase their influence in other departments or take on more responsibility. They can function independently, but their lack of soft skills and leadership qualities do not let them evolve further.

Why You Should Identify High-Potential Employees

Any company would be happy if half of its employees were HiPo workers. These team members are very active and beneficial, but besides that, the organization receives:

  1. Stable revenue growth. HiPo employees are interested in the development of the company where they work—not only for the money but also for the general idea;
  2. Introduction of new technologies and methods of work. By mastering new areas of knowledge, a young and promising specialist can bring something new to the work processes and, as a consequence, increase its efficiency;
  3. High level of employee motivation. HiPo workers are not only motivated to work productively for the company’s benefit but can also inspire colleagues to do the same;
  4. Wise and flexible leaders. High-potential employees quickly identify their subordinates’ strengths and find ways to improve their performance. They tend to communicate with colleagues from different areas and departments and even senior management. It gives them a great example of how to behave in certain situations and boosts their growth;
  5. Affordable salaries. At the beginning of their career, HiPo workers do not demand high salaries. Such employees are interested in the opportunity to realize their ambitions and bring real value to the company. They work for the idea, so hiring them is doubly beneficial.

As you can see there are many perks of discovering such talent among your staff. Be attentive and monitor your employees.

Tips on How to Find a HiPo

Many companies perform surveys that assess employees’ abilities and personal qualities. Such a method may seem efficient, but in most cases, only constant observance allows for detecting HiPos. Here are some distinctive characteristics that are typical for a high-potential employee:

  1. Willingness to do more. Employees are willing to go beyond their standard responsibilities, take on more complex tasks, and manage them successfully. They can involve others in their projects, lead them, and organize the whole process.
  2. High Performance. The team members set ambitious goals and achieve them, even during difficult and uncertain situations.
  3. Skills. Typically, HiPo employees adapt faster to new realities, acquire new knowledge and experience more quickly, and are able to learn from mistakes while moving forward. They are aided by innate and acquired abilities, both intellectual and interaction-related.
  4. Involvement and loyalty. The employee shares the company’s values and wants to further their career in the company.

How to Work With a Talented Employee

Highly qualified talents know their worth. They understand their significance to the company. But they also understand that they can easily find work anywhere and choose where they are most comfortable. Therefore, it is crucial to stick to a strategy while communicating and working with HiPo employees, so you don’t risk alienating them.

True Values

Talented employees are often super-motivating. It means that they aren’t just working for money or for fun; they have a higher purpose. It can be changing the market, bringing real value to people through the company’s products, or helping the business become omnichannel, thereby increasing profits. The company must have a clear mission so that the employee understands what they are working for.

It is also essential for HiPos to create a value proposition. Describe what they achieve from working in the organization, like a bigger salary, a more comfortable schedule, a convenient workplace with all the necessary equipment, and a non-toxic atmosphere in the team.

Constant Evolution

Keep in mind that talented employees are future leaders. They are ambitious people who are eager to do anything new. You might notice that your HiPo employees have plenty of hard skills but not enough soft skills.

It can help to provide a soft skills development program for your HiPo workers. It can include leadership development programs, personal awareness training, creative skills development, client orientation, negotiation, stress resistance, and much more. Stagnation and monotonous work are destructive to such employees. Therefore, investments in HiPo training will pay off not only in business results but also in productivity and job satisfaction indicators.

Provide More Freedom 

High-potential specialists will fall into demotivation under an authoritarian management style and constant control. In order to generate ideas that are beneficial to the company, they must have more flexibility. Such an employee understands how actions affect the company’s work and is aware of the responsibility. However, they are primarily focused on the result. A liberal style of management is better suited to work with talent. 

How to Grow a HiPo?

The development of employees with high potential is beneficial to the entire company. Rather than recruiting top talent, you can focus on employees who are already established in your company. Here’s how to grow a high-potential worker:

  1. Identify the potential of all employees and offer them jobs where they can do their best. Everyone has talent, and it is important to understand what it is;
  2. If you know a person’s potential and invest in their development, they can later bring high results and profits to the company;
  3. Assessments will be effective aids in identifying a perfect candidate, but do not test employees in isolation from the business and professional tasks. Potential is always considered in the context of an activity. Anyhow, you will see the staff member’s strong sides that are worth developing;
  4. It’s critical for talent to understand their purpose in the company. Talk about the organization’s mission and HiPo’s role in the business process. It will help them know how you appreciate their skills;
  5. Decent pay and nice bonuses also matter to a high-potential employee. Such perks may include a convenient schedule, a comfortable working space, or other deals;
  6. HiPos are negatively affected by an authoritarian management style. Integrate a more loose method of leadership, or the talent’s productivity will go down the drain;
  7. To make the talent choose your company, assess their pains and needs. Job dissatisfaction accumulates over time, so treating the symptoms early is essential;
  8. To understand a HiPo employee’s needs, use an assessment, a corporate survey, or a face-to-face interview format, depending on the case.

How to Hire Employees With High Potential

HiPos are usually young employees with high potential who are showing outstanding characteristics in their field of work and striving to lead and manage. Their principal value is their youth and desire to develop. All the company needs to do is direct its energy to the right task. Accordingly, the question arises: how to attract such personnel? It is simple if you stick to the plan:

  • Create an individual approach that’s created for each candidate applying for the position;
  • Bear a clear understanding of what kind of specialists are needed and for what activity;
  • Consider the candidates carefully, comparing them to existing specialists according to specific criteria;
  • Check out the feedback from all departments constantly;
  • Use the results of the assessment of employees’ abilities to build a plan for further development.

It is extremely important to find employees with high potential and motivate them for long-term cooperation. After all, in the future, such an employee will be of great benefit to the company. 

How to Get a High-Potential Employee to Stay With Your Company

Even strong motivation needs a periodic boost. If you limit the actions of your talented employee by burdening them with monotonous routine tasks, they may eventually consider changing that job for a more challenging one. It is vital to let employees understand their evaluability and usefulness. This plays a crucial role in the development of the company. It can be done in a variety of ways: from financial rewards to having a conversation in an informal setting.

  1. As the number of duties of specialists increases, so should their salaries. It is also important to clearly outline the prospects for career growth;
  2. Show them more opportunities that await them in the future;
  3. Hire or organize a mentorship program. It may seem costly, but the outcome will exceed your expectations because your employee’s work will become even better. Provide them with the needed support and grant them the opportunity to learn from the best.

Bottom Line

A company’s profits and market position depend on the potential of its employees. Finding and unlocking potential is the cornerstone of talent management. It lays the foundation for a strong team. The company invests in future success by contributing to the development of its employees’ potential.