High-potential employees are a valuable asset to every business. Not only are they more productive and encourage those around them to do better, but they also strive to excel in their current roles to go above and beyond what is expected of them.

What Are High-Potential Employees?

High-potential employees (HIPOs) are the employees that exhibit the necessary skills for a leadership or management position. These employees are ambitious and take initiative in all their tasks. They have the potential, ability, and aspiration to be successful in leadership positions. Typically, HIPOs excel in their current roles and have a hunger for more responsibilities. They have a strong will to grow in their role and overcome any obstacles they may encounter.

DYK? High-potential employees are 91% more valuable to a business than non-high-potential workers.

Some companies confuse high-potential employees with high-performance employees. It is crucial for businesses to know the difference between them to be successful.

The Difference Between High-Potential vs High-Performance

High-potential employees and high-performance employees are not the same. High-performance refers to employees who excel in their current roles. They tend to set and crush goals such as exceeding their sales quarter goals. These employees function well by themselves and have an innate ability to stay focused on the tasks at hand. However, typically they do not possess the soft skills, such as leadership or a student mentality, in order to be a great leader. 

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HIPOs, on the other hand, have the potential to be a strong asset when it comes to management roles. They have the soft skills necessary to learn the role and lead their team toward attaining company goals. High-potential employees tend to excel in an individual setting while HIPOs excel in a group setting.

What makes soft skills so important?

Soft skills are non-negotiable when you are working in a leadership role. For example, having empathy can allow your leaders to connect with other employees and see situations from their perspectives. Enabling these future leaders to develop these soft skills will help your company in the long run.

One mistake companies tend to make is promoting high-performance employees when they should be promoting high-potential employees. 90% of high performers have difficulty adjusting to the higher levels of responsibilities required to lead. When it comes down to it, mistaking high-performance employees for high-potential employees can cost your company time, money, and potentially even employees.

Benefits of Identifying Your High-Potential Employees

Identifying high-potential employees will benefit your company in the long run. Knowing which employees you can trust with various tasks and projects to achieve your company goals is important. When organizations identify and develop their HIPO employees, they often see many benefits to their processes and business functions.

High-potential employees benefit your company by:

  • Increasing Productivity— HIPOs are known to be highly productive. They set strong goals for themselves and have the discipline and desire to see them through. Not only do HIPOs accomplish their own goals, but they also work to encourage those around them to do the same. 
  • Enabling Succession Planning— Every organization needs to have a road map to success. This involves succession plans for higher-level executives and plans for managing employee departures and promotions. Your HIPOs need to know the plan you have in place and how they contribute to the overall mission. 
  • Saving You Money — When it comes to identifying and developing HIPO employees, your company will save time and money. These employees catch on quickly and have a heightened urge to learn new skills, meaning they are more willing to tackle new professional development opportunities.
  • Helping You To Identify Strengths—  HIPOs are usually very self-aware employees. This means that they know the strengths and weaknesses they bring to the table and how to apply these skills for actual growth and success. HIPOs often also help other employees to realize their unique skill set. This enables your company to excel with the existing talent in your organization.

While the above benefits are the most commonly recognized advantages to developing your HIPOs, you might see other value-added benefits. This can include an increase in revenue and improved morale. Organizations should strive to identify and develop their high-potential employees whenever possible.

How To Identify High-Potential Employees

The first step to identifying HIPO employees is observing your employees to see who has the management or supervisory skills necessary to lead your team in the right direction. There are certain criteria in identifying high-potential employees. Criteria may include knowledge, reputation, and certainty. Other common traits include:

  • Takes the initiative and Has a Desire To Lead — High-potential employees take the initiative to help whenever they can. HIPOs are willing and able to take the reins and ensure your team accomplishes your goals, going above and beyond their job description to help fill the gaps in your company.
  • Has an Entrepreneurial Mindset — HIPOs are forward-thinkers. They are well-versed in all aspects of the business and are always looking at the overall picture. Your HIPOs will be employees who are invested in your company goals and work to support their teams when needed. 
  • Makes Decisions and Acts on Them — It is important to have someone who can make a decision and stick to it. More importantly, your organization needs someone who can execute decisions when needed. 
  • Is Flexible in Fast-Paced Environments — Most businesses today operate at a warp-speed. HIPOs need to be flexible and adapt to changes as they come. Your high-potential employees should be able to make quick changes when needed.
  • Is Committed and Engaged — These employees are loyal to the goals of the company. HIPOs also love asking questions. It could be for clarification or asking for more information to gain a deeper understanding of their tasks. Still, your high-potential employees have an innate desire to learn and a curiosity to take your team to the next level. 
  • Fosters Positive Relationships — Employees who can develop positive internal and external relationships are well-fitted for leadership roles. The ability to form meaningful and positive workplace relationships helps keep your team motivated and engaged. 
  • Performs Leadership Duties — Employees who perform leadership roles are considered a high-value asset to your team. HIPOs are also your employees who need little-to-no direction. They are able to take a task and run with it, meaning you’ll spend less time guiding and supporting them along the way.
  • Is Talented at Their Job — Finally, potential HIPOs are employees that excel in their current roles. The employees best equipped to be future leaders are always working their hardest to push themselves and their team members in the right direction.

Developing High-Potential Employees

When it comes to developing your high-potential employees, having a strong, reliable development program is necessary. How do you start? One option is to implement a mentorship program. By pairing your HIPO with a more experienced leader within your organization, they can learn the intricacies and nuances of leadership roles before jumping in head-first. Their mentor can offer guidance, coaching, and feedback as they take on their new roles.

@CaliperCorp discusses the importance of identifying and #developing #HighPotentialEmployees in their latest blog. See what strategies they recommend implementing in your own organization: Click To Tweet

Another strategy that needs to be included in your development program is an individualized and customized career plan for each employee. Focused career plans are a transparent way for employees to know what their future holds. Not only will they see a road map of where they are and where they can go within your organization, but it also reassures your employees that you are invested in their future.

Finally, implementing online learning programs can benefit your organization. These programs are highly useful, as they do not require as significant of a commitment as in-person programs. Your HIPOs can manage their learning at their own pace and attend virtual classes to refine skills and industry knowledge. These learning programs also enable HIPOs to network with other like-minded professionals, creating an expansive web of support and guidance that employees can draw upon in times of need.

Developing your HIPOs is crucial. It is important to remember that leadership skills come with time, practice, and experience. By investing the proper resources in your employees’ development, you can create a future workforce with the knowledge, skills, and ambition to take your company to the next level. Remember that even when the above options are implemented, it is still possible for HIPOs to fail in their roles. If they do not have the support and development needed to succeed in a leadership role, it can be difficult for your employees to succeed. Make sure they know they have a place to ask questions and develop their skills. There is bound to be a learning curve with a new position, but with the right guidance, they can be successful.

Bear in mind that HIPOs are not the same as high-performance employees. Properly identifying and developing high-potential employees can set your organization up for future success.

Taking initiative, a desire to lead, and being flexible in fast-paced environments are a few characteristics that you can look for when identifying high-potential employees. It is important to develop these employees since they can directly and positively impact your business’s revenue to help you accomplish your goals. By investing in development opportunities, offering mentorship programs, and creating individualized career plans, you can better grow these HIPO into future leaders.

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