Business owners are often tied up keeping their business running and afloat. As a result, they often hire talent based on operational or technical skills. Increasingly, employers are recognizing that there is more than technical skill required to successfully run their business and take it to the next level. Over recent years, top Fortune 100 companies are seeking to deepen its pool of talent through unique initiatives focused on identifying high potentials rather than high performers who fit their company culture.
High performers stand out in any organisation, exceed expectations and have a track record of getting the job done well. They are great at their role and they take pride in their accomplishments.
High potentials are of a different kind. They not only possess the technical skills, but, more importantly, the future ability to lead and make a big impact. These are the ones who actively search for opportunities, successfully deal with change management and are able to lead and drive teams during difficult situations. Companies must seek employees who will not only get the job done well and meet their targets but those who have the potential to be future leaders and drive the organization to the next level.
Some companies mistakenly assume high performers are high potentials. Too often we see this happen in the Sales field. Consider this example, Richard, the top sales performer of a distribution company has been promoted to a Sales Manager. As such, he is no longer responsible for directly hitting the sales target but now manages a team of 5 sales representatives. The job responsibilities have changed and Richard’s energy, drive and ambition have deteriorated. Why? He never envisioned himself as a Sales Manager. His passion is not to lead; it is to sell.
High potentials are difficult to identify because high performance tends to blind the less obvious leadership attitudes and behaviors of high potentials such as ambition and learning capabilities. Although difficult to identify from the onset, a rigorous recruitment process could detect possible top potential behaviors. The recruitment process could include Behavioural Event Interviews (B.E.I.), Psychometric Assessments and Assessment Centers where candidates work on numerous exercises independently as well as part of a team. Some organisations may consider this a large investment but arguably, it is a worthwhile one as it better identifies the future leaders of your business. Additionally, some of these assessments are conducted throughout the employee life cycle within the organization.
Businesses worry about succession planning and therefore, a continuous performance review of your teams becomes crucial in order to identify those in the organization who have the potential to lead. The goal is to retain those potential leaders who can both lead, adapt to change and want to be brand ambassadors. By this we mean, they believe in the product or service and will positively shape your company’s culture, impact their colleagues and best represent your service in networking circles.
A stronger talent pipeline builds a stronger company. Structured development plans then become important for those identified as high potentials as this would encourage interest, advancement and engagement. Companies often see their best people leave because they are not challenged enough or cannot see their career path in their current position. Businesses then run the risk of losing potential leaders to competitors.
Failure to assess performance versus potential is a real business problem globally. It takes resources and dedication to identify high potential from your high performing employees, assess their competencies and attributes and put them on a succession plan. The business strategy is to keep both but identify and develop further those who have the potential to lead your organization.
By Karen Lee Yuen
Client Relationship Manager, Eve Anderson Recruitment Limited