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How to Develop and Retain High Potential Employees

If you’ve ever led a group of employees, you’ve probably had one or two that stood out from the rest. They were eager to take on new projects and were consistently adding value to the team. These employees are known in the HR space as High Potential Employees, or “HiPos”.

If you’re new to management or HR and are looking to provide more for the HiPos in your organization, here are a few tips to develop and retain high potential employees.

Recognize the Difference between Potential and Performance

The first mistake that many organizations make in developing HiPos is forgetting what the “P” really signifies. Replacing the “P” with performance puts the emphasis on the wrong metric. According to Forbes, “performance is what you do, potential is what you could do.” For this reason, it’s important to not just focus on the output you’re getting from employees, but their leadership skills. While an individual may break sales records year over year, they might not necessarily inhibit the traits needed to manage and lead the team (or even want to). It’s important to gauge their potential in order to know exactly where their skills can take them.

Unveil Their Potential for Growth

Once you’ve identified your HiPos, it’s important to let that be known to them. Too often employees feel undervalued because their managers don’t tell them the potential that they see or opportunities for which they are being considered. If you have employees on your team that you plan to invest in for the future, let them know your intentions and how you view them.

Act on What You’ve Said

It’s one thing to let employees know you “see something in them”. It’s another thing to support these words with actions. HiPos should be rewarded with more opportunities and responsibilities. Invest in their training and development and if possible, create a clear path for success. Show them where you see them leading in the future and the skills they need to develop in order to get there. If you can’t provide a mentor for them within the company, find an outside resource. Too often organizations shy away from providing any opportunities outside of their four walls, afraid that candidates will run. However, the opportunities are always there for them to find. It’s much better to show that you are confident in them as an employee and provide those opportunities for them, and in turn, increase their loyalty to your company.

Recognize Achievements and Reward Accordingly

By now you’ve recognized your HiPos and unveiled their potential. You’ve also provided opportunities for training and development through mentorship and increased responsibilities. The last step is crucial in solidifying everything you’ve done thus far. Recognize their achievements and reward them accordingly! These employees are ambitious and driven, but they also need to stay motivated. Consider a formal recognition program to reward them, bump up their pay, or simply write them a note of gratitude. However you choose to recognize and reward your HiPos, make sure it’s meaningful.

HiPos represent the future of your business. Finding ways to support, engage and retain these high potential employees is vital to the success of your company and the future you are creating. How will you encourage your HiPos this week?

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