First, let’s define what constitutes a high potential employee. Generally, they are regarded as the top 3 to 5% of a company, who demonstrate high levels of contribution. And while every organization may have its own addendums to that definition, there is consensus that this group is always in hot demand.
Competitors may be trying to recruit your best managers right now. And research shows that top performing managers are leaving their jobs, even in today’s unstable employment environment.
So why do many companies invest a lot of effort into recruiting these employees, but then do very little by way of talent management and talent development to retain them?
At a time when retaining good talent is so crucial, organizations must make sure they have employee retention and development strategies in place to avoid turnover. Below are 6 different ideas to try.
1. Mentoring. Corporate environments have started implementing more structured mentoring programs. These can be very powerful for acclimating employees to the corporate culture and values. Mentoring can also be enormously valuable for those high potential employees who thrive on interaction with influential colleagues.
2. High visibility assignments. It’s important that these employees be given challenging opportunities that are outside their comfort zones and keep them highly engaged. You may also want to explore other options such as rotation to a supplier or partner, swapping positions, coaching/mentoring, or other creative talent development solutions that expand a high potential employee’s visibility and depth of experience.
3. Open communication. This may be stating the obvious, but if a high potential employee has a concern or an idea, it’s in your organization’s best interest to listen. You may also want to let them know that you believe they’re high potential, and therefore valuable to the organization. Just don’t make it public about who’s a rising star or you’ll create a culture of winners and losers.
4. Learning and development. Think about other types of learning and employee development opportunities that you could offer, beyond certifications or employee training programs. Many organizations are coming up with talent management structures that allow one employee to experience many facets of the organization, from sales to marketing to customer service.
5. Measure progress quarterly. Companies measure themselves on a quarterly basis, so do the same with your employees. Especially if you’re exposing high potential employees to mentors, new and high visibility projects, position swapping, etc., and putting them in unfamiliar territory, a proactive quarterly review provides them with more immediate feedback.
6. Alignment. Align your top performers’ development plans with your company’s strategy so what they do supports the organization’s needs as well as their own. Determine the best pace for their career development. Give them the time needed to plan their projects, implement them and stay to see the results so they (and you) can evaluate their performance.