Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Managing high potentials, part of Managing Teams.
All employess have value. But let's be brutally honest, some add a lot more value than others. Truly great talent is invaluable. As a leader one of your most important tasks is identifying and then retaining your most gifted employees. Let's call them high potentials. By high potential, I'm referring to around the top 5 percent of your employees. Those who are great candidates for fast tracking, whereby their progression is intentionally accelerated to take advantage of their ability, and to keep them engaged. These are the people who consistently outperform their peer groups. It's important for you to not assume that your strongest employees are happy and engaged.
In fact, research suggests that as many as 25% of high potential employees say they plan to change jobs within the next 12 months. Retaining this talent is more difficult than you might imagine. There tends to be a big divide between what employers think motivates high potentials and what actually motivates them. It's not just about money, because a high potential employee, even in difficult economies, can go find the same or more money elsewhere. Instead, they seek more opportunities to more directly influence the organization, and more challenging assignments, with bigger risks and rewards.
Here are several specific strategies you can use to boost moral and engagement with your high potential employees. First, don't be shy about telling them they're special. Let them clearly know of their high potential status. If your best talent isn't sure of their status, they are more likely to consider leaving the organization. Next, find ways to get them involved. High potentials want to be involved in planning their development, instead of being dictated to. Try not to propose a you do this and we'll give you that type of situation.
Instead, strive for a real dialogue, where interests on both sides are balanced. And for your best talent, try not to think of your developmental conversations as once or twice a year events during performance evaluations. Strive to create an open and continuous conversation. Another great guideline to remember, is when you give them challenging new assignments, be sure to delegate real responsibility. High potential employees excel when they have the needed power to act. And when they're truly accountable for something.
It's smart to also make a special effort to find them effective mentors. You can only do so much. If you have a highly talented employee, think beyond yourself and actively encourage them to seek out a mentor. Also, think about ways you can create high visibility for your best performers. Find ways to link them to higher level decision makers in order to help them feel connected and appreciated. Here are two final thoughts worth remembering. First, for all of your efforts in support of high-potential employees.
Be sure to get buy-in from your supervisor and top leaders in the organization. In the case a high-potential program exists, you will want to operate within the parameters that have already been established. If there is no such program, you still want higher level help and guidance to ensure your efforts are aligned well with organizational strategies and goals. Finally, inevitably, some high potentials will choose to seek opportunities elsewhere. Even if you've endeavored to really engage your top talent, this is normal, it happens. Here, your goal is to ensure you part on good terms. You never know when your paths will cross again.
And it's very possible you could work together in the future in a different capacity. If you hire employees effectively they will all be solid assets for the team. However, a few always emerge as real superstars. Be ready to look for them, and use the strategies we just discussed. As a result, you'll increase the odds that you retain a high percentage of your strongest talent.
- Building initial rapport
- Signaling fairness and integrity
- Communicating proactively
- Facilitating efficient meetings
- Using your authority effectively