They’re the secret sauce for a successful organization—high potential employees. They drive your company’s success and inspire other team members to elevate performance. But if you don’t train them differently, you’ll lose them.
High potential employees aren’t difficult to spot. They’re the ones who get things done with excellence—and ask for more. They’re always taking the initiative to improve their skills, not waiting for you to provide training for them. They seek out feedback in their drive to improve performance and polish their skills to perfection. They typically make up about 3-5% of the company’s talent.
Successful companies recognize that not all employees are the same. They identify the high potential employees and develop targeted leadership training for them.
High potential employees who are not formally identified are twice as likely to seek employment elsewhere. These influential employees want a clear career path or they’re likely move on. Other benefits of being labeled as high potential often include greater visibility or access to decision-making, special assignments, and exclusive training opportunities.
All employees should be treated fairly and equitably, but not equally when it comes to training. The reality is that not all employees have the same potential to excel in your company in the same way. Some will excel as core employees, forming the essential backbone of your company’s culture. Others need room to soar like eagles to make the most of their talents. They want and need to be stretched in order to make their maximum contribution. Both are necessary. Yet each must be trained differently.
That’s one reason why we offer the foundational workshop Discovering your Authentic Leadership Style. We understand that each employee is uniquely hardwired for success in his or her own way. Training everyone the same only creates frustration.
There are at least three reasons why your company shouldn’t be training your high potential employees the same as your core employees:
1. You’ll frustrate your high potential employees. High potential employees are different than your core employees. There are no value judgments involved in making that assessment, simply recognition of drive, skills, and capacity. High potential employees have a vital role in every organization. Rather than forcing people to be something they are not, identify the high potential employees and develop them into who they can be. Good companies push people out of their comfort zones, but never their strength zones.
2. You’ll frustrate the core employees. Some core employees get uncomfortable when asked to go out of their comfort zones. However, high potential employees are hardwired to soar to new heights and see things from a different perspective. Core employees play vital roles and should not be thought of as inferior in any way. Yet they too benefit and grow from interacting with high-potential employees. When high potential employees leave, not only does your top talent leave with them, but also they can no longer help train others to succeed. Their departure has a cascading impact—and it’s not good.
3. You’ll frustrate yourself. You and other leaders in your organization will invest a lot of time dealing with the frustrating fallout of trying to train everyone the same. Natural ability is not a choice. It is a gift. If your high potential employees or your core employees aren’t getting what they need to use their strengths effectively, maybe it’s time to examine your company’s approach to training to see if your perspective is the problem.
What can you do? When high potential employees are asked what organizations could do to increase their engagement and commitment, the number one answer is to provide a clear career path and support. In short, they want clarity on direction and help to soar to new heights.
That support could come in the form of establishing an internal mentoring program that first identifies high potential employees and then matches them with executive leaders. You could also support them by partnering with experienced coaches like the ones on our team at The John Maxwell Company. We partner with some of the top companies to provide the very best Executive Coaching to their top talent.
Our veteran coaches use the proven 5 Levels of Leadership and 360° Leadership frameworks, then tailor guidance to the individual, making our coaching an ideal solution for maximizing the value of high potential employees.
You can click here to discover more about our coaching systems and how you can leverage them to train your high potential employees. But whatever you do, don’t delay. Your company put a lot of effort into attracting eagles—your high potential employees.
Doing nothing to train them differently is the one sure way to lose your top talent.