Employees working together at whiteboard

Employee Potential: Identify & Keep Your Best Employees

Performance Management
September 28, 2022
Rad time: 10min
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Employee potential looks different for everyone. Of course, you want employees on your team who seek to improve themselves and welcome growth opportunities. Knowing how to identify high-potential employees and how to develop them can transform your business for the better. 

In this article, we will cover all there is to know about employee potential. We’ll also see how focusing on employee wellbeing can work in everyone’s favor and increase the likelihood of building resilient and strong team members.

What is Employee Potential?   

Employee potential refers to a person’s expertise and their natural-born abilities. High-potential employees (HIPOs) are those who demonstrate skills and abilities that go beyond their current job role. Oftentimes, high-potential employees are chosen for leadership and management roles. 

Employees with high potential finish their tasks completely, remain consistent, and produce results that are of top quality. 

Why Identify High Potential Employees?   

Recognising high potential employees is valuable for businesses as these employees have a grand impact on how the business runs. When you know which employees have high-potential, you can work on developing them into managerial and leadership positions. 

They are also the employees who can be most trusted to complete time-sensitive tasks and handle their responsibilities with less oversight. 

When you develop high-potential employees to reach their potential, you can increase revenue and promote organisational growth.

What are the Benefits of High Potential Employees?

When you have people on your team whom you can trust and have intrinsic motivation to perform optimally, there are many benefits that come along with it. 

Some benefits of having high potential employees include:

1. Cost Savings 

Since high potential employees learn quickly and are able to advance, you will not only be able to reduce costly mistakes from occurring, but you’ll also be able to achieve more. HIPOs can overcome challenges and take on new opportunities. 

2. Greater Productivity

HIPOs are great at finishing their own tasks and putting in maximum effort. Along with accomplishing their own tasks, they often have a positive effect on their colleagues and can help to boost employee morale. 

3. Reach Company Goals

HIPOs aren’t just there for the paycheck. They are genuinely invested and aligned with company goals, which means that they care about the company’s future. 

4. Improved Company Culture 

As high potential employees work on developing themselves and those around them, they serve as great role models. You can count on a high potential employee to execute company values and support a positive company culture for everyone around them. 

Another way to achieve all of these advantages is through improved mental wellbeing. By supporting and prioritising employee mental wellbeing, employees are more resilient which means that they are better able to handle stress, overcome challenges, and think more clearly. 

All of these characteristics support a more motivated workforce and overall improved company culture. In this way, you can promote all your employees to be high potential employees!

How to Evaluate Employee Potential?   

As we began this article with, employee potential is different for everyone. Some employees execute with high potential, whereas others may not. Knowing how to identify high-potential employees can also help you to better support and develop them. 

There are six main markers of HIPOs, including:

  1. Ability - performance capabilities 
  2. Relationships - how they interact with others 
  3. Behaviour - they exhibit health behaviours and habits 
  4. Adaptability - they can respond to change well 
  5. Aspiration - they seek to succeed 
  6. Leadership qualities - they possess qualities that make them a strong leader 

Ultimately, how any employee performs or shows up to work is dictated and impacted by their mental wellbeing. 

When employees possess the tools and techniques to overcome challenges, manage stress, and remain confident in their own abilities, they are prepared to succeed and reach their potential. You can support and develop employees by implementing an employee wellbeing platform.

What are the Dimensions of Employee Potential?   

Besides identifying the markers of employee potential, you can look at it in terms of three different dimensions. 

1. Career Dimensions

Career dimensions refer to the skills that an employee possesses that have been learned and honed through experience. They are job-specific and tend to be considered during the hiring process, especially for entry-level roles. 

2. Foundational Dimensions

Over time, the most stable of the dimensions are foundational dimensions. They represent one’s intelligence and conscientiousness. They are transferable across positions. 

3. Growth Dimensions

Growth dimensions tend to show themselves with more years of experience. Growth dimensions combine situational and inherent factors. While some may argue that career dimensions are those that can be developed and growth dimensions are stable, it is possible to positively enhance growth dimensions. 

This can be done through mental wellbeing and support. If you provide employees with tools and techniques that can strengthen their mental fitness (such as with employee wellbeing tools), they can also strengthen their own growth dimensions.

What are the Personality Traits of High Performing Employees?   

When seeking to identify employee potential, it’s useful to take note of the personality traits that high potential employees tend to possess. These include:

  • Adjustment: HIPOs have a high tolerance and threshold for change. They can quickly adapt to new situations. 
  • Curiosity: HIPOs are curious in any environment and tend to approach problems with creativity to deliver resolutions. 
  • Risk: When faced with risk, HIPOs remain resilient and proactively find solutions. 
  • Ambiguity: If something isn’t entirely clear, you can trust that HIPOs will take the time to reduce complexity and unknowns by finding out more information. 
  • Conscientiousness: High potential employees have a fair share of self-motivation and have a high drive to succeed.  

What is the Difference Between Employee Potential versus Employee Performance? 

If you’re lucky, you have employees on your team who are high performers. There is a difference between high potential and high performers, so when comparing high potential vs high performer, here’s what to look for:

A high performing employee is a person who is doing well in their current role. However, the major difference between the two is that a higher performer isn’t always well-suited for the next level up or a promotion into a managerial or leadership role. 

A high potential employee is, because they possess the traits to achieve their own success, but also to help motivate and inspire those around them to do their best, too.

What are High Potential Employee Programmes?   

When it comes to how to develop high-potential employees, there are some methods to consider. 

For starters, you may be inclined to initiate a high potential employee programme, which provides high targeted training to those you have designated as high potential. The goal of these programmes is to maximise employee growth and position them for the next level up. 

If you’re going to invest in such a program, you’ll want to be sure that you can retain employees thereafter. To do so, consider deploying employee wellbeing solutions so employees have tools to take care of their own mental health, manage stress levels, and gain extra support should they need it. 

By doing so, you not only give them to the best chance of reaching their potential, but you also maximise the likelihood that they’ll stay with your company for a longer time. This is because employees who are happier, more mentally fit, and feel supported by their employer have less reason to seek employment elsewhere.

What is High Potential Leadership Development?   

If you’ve identified a high potential employee as someone you see fit for a leadership role, then it’s best to nurture those skills as early as possible. 

You can get started directing them on the desired path by combining and implementing some of the following leadership development initiatives:

  • Grant them autonomy
  • Have direct and open conversations about their career goals and desires 
  • Connect them with a mentor 
  • Avoid overworking them and decrease the risk of burnout (an employee wellbeing platform can help do exactly this) 
  • Provide them with a clear path for development 
  • Involve them with leadership as much as possible

How to Measure Employees with High Potential?

When you have an organization with many employees, it’s not always simple to spend excessive and individual time to determine each person’s employee potential levels. 

You can provide personality profiling assessments to gauge character traits. This could be one way to spot high potential employees, even in a mass pool of talent. 

Keep in mind that before you apply any profiling assessments, you’ll want to define what it is that you’re looking for in your high potential employees. What do you want them to excel at? What is the end goal and where do you want to utilize high potential employees within your business?

How to Develop High Potential Employees?   

High potential employees bring a lot of value to the table. To develop them and keep them engaged within their jobs, it’s recommended to:

  • Play to their strengths: Understand what they are best at and allow them to prosper as they express their strengths.
  • Provide feedback: Every employee deserves feedback about what they are doing well and also where they can improve (and how).
  • Get personal: Take the time to create individualised development plans based on what an employee seeks to achieve.
  • Prioritise mental health: All of your efforts will be in vain if your employees cannot take care of their mental health. You can make use of employee wellbeing tools that allow employees to check in with themselves and learn new techniques to strengthen mental fitness. This way, they are better able to manage stress and anxiety, ask for help when they need it, and protect their own work-life balance. 
Employees in training program
Photo from Pexels

Closing Thoughts

It’s beneficial for your business to identify and develop employee potential. High potential employees are fit for promotion and leadership roles, and can make a major and positive difference in how an organisation functions. 

By investing in high potential employees, prioritising their mental wellbeing, and closely monitoring their progress, you’ll realise the many benefits of doing so as they progress in their careers. Plus, you gain the added bonus of prompting more employees into becoming employees with higher potential!

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