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Identifying high-potential employees
  • Managers and supervisors can help identify a company’s high-potential employees.

An organization’s ability to thrive depends largely on its ability to keep its best talent. Work with managers and supervisors to identify high-potential employees (HiPos). Once identified, make sure expectations align with those of the organization and stay in contact with high-potential employees regarding further development. The extra effort could result in the development of a future leader.

First steps

Identifying HiPos requires an assessment process. First, the upper-level positions to be filled via the succession planning process must be analyzed to determine what is necessary in terms of:

  • Knowledge,
  • Skills,
  • Abilities,
  • Traits,
  • Experience,
  • Education,
  • Certifications or professional licensing, and
  • Core competencies.

After this is done, look at the pool of employees and decide who may have the foundation to fill one or more of these positions. Identify what education, experience, and other qualifications individuals may have, or what is lacking. Determine what a person’s interests are in terms of future career direction. Training and development can be geared in that direction if it is consistent with the overall succession plan.

Sometimes HiPos are easy to identify. The employee may stand out among peers in both ability and attitude. While current job performance can be one good indicator of an employee’s potential, employers can also assess employees on whether the person possesses certain ideal characteristics that have been identified by the company. For example, depending on the nature of the business, a company might seek to identify individuals who:

  • Consistently command the respect of peers, supervisors, or subordinates;
  • Have proven over time to have the willingness and ability to master new skills;
  • Excel in team and individual settings and are natural leaders among peers;
  • Regularly look for ways to improve products and work more efficiently;
  • Are open to constructive criticism; and/or
  • Have a firm understanding of customers’ needs.