How to quickly grow high-potential team members to contribute to bottom-line success

The reality of running a successful business is that you need varying skill and potential levels on your team to contribute to the bottom line. The truth is that only approximately 20 per cent of the global population has high potential in the workforce, but that doesn’t mean every business needs only high-potential employees to succeed. Because of this, it’s often a valuable exercise to track employee performance and potential to assess where they fit within the organization, how and where they will succeed.

High-performing, high-potential employees tend to share the following qualities:

They value unique opportunities.

If a high-potential top performer exceeds expectations by executing with excellence, it often means they can and want to take on more. Once they have proven their high organizational value, consider how you can give them more to benefit your business. If they deliver quality work more quickly than other team members, they can likely handle more clients. If they have demonstrated they know how to teach and mentor the junior team, consider giving them direct reports. If a special project is coming up that needs a lead, this is also an opportunity for the most skilled members of the team to take on ownership of something entirely new and stay excited and challenged.

They crave recognition and advancement.

High-potential top performers are generally aware that they are skilled and in demand. They may have been in a special program at school, received a scholarship, quickly rose through the ranks at their past employer or are being courted by your competitor! This means they will have a certain baseline expectation around wanting their performance recognized and may be looking for related remuneration. Here are a few effective ways to deliver on these desires. If an employee demonstrates excellence in customer acquisition and sales, consider a unique incentive, assign a key senior team member to do monthly check-ins to deliver positive feedback and identify what will keep them engaged. Spot rewards or bonuses tied to specific business outcomes can also be an effective tactic in addition to giving these employees a special title, a career coach, or even getting them involved in carving out a new role that excites them.

They can become easily restless if their performance is not tracked in a customized way.

Though high-performing potentials are of tremendous value to organizations, it can also be very toxic if management rewards them in a way that suggests preferential treatment to the rest of the team. It cannot happen and can put your organization’s culture at risk if it does. At the same time, one of the core things that will make this group of employees move on to what’s next is not feeling challenged. Because of this, it’s essential to take a customized approach to their professional development to identify what will keep them most engaged. The winning strategy varies tremendously by individual. Sometimes, it may be wholly compensation-driven; other times, it is recognition and a senior title, in some cases, offering autonomy alone is enough.

I encourage all business leaders to explore this topic within their organization and take the time to implement a performance management process for all employees. The return on investment is significant and will help you maximize the contributions of the stars on your team.

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