Profiles intl article_20140430_hitting the mark with high potentials
Hitting the Mark
With High Potentials
Profiles International, a leader in providing assessment
solutions to help organizations select and develop the
right people for the right job, recently published an
eBook on what organizations need to do in order to
identify and manage high-potential employees. The
new guide offers interesting and useful insight to
improve overall organizational performance. A
summary of the topics discussed in the eBook include:
• What is Potential?
Potential is defined as the possibility of developing
or achieving something in the future. For an
employee, it’s the ability to perform within the
organization at the highest levels he or she is
capable of reaching.
As a leader, you must identify, assess, and develop
high-potential employees. Your objective is to see
the potential in an unrefined employee, and then
turn him or her into a stellar performer.
• The Difference between High Potential
and High Performance
Contrary to popular belief, performance doesn’t
always equate to potential. You can have a rock star
employee who has all the right stuff to excel to
higher levels within the organization, but isn’t being
productive. The key with any high-potential
employee is to actualize productivity.
On the flip side, a reliable high performer may not
have what it takes to lead. He or she may lack the
skills or desire to move up within the organization.
Some high-performing employees may be perfectly
happy doing their current jobs, and have no interest
in assuming greater responsibilities.
Therefore, managers must keep in mind that
performance does not equal potential. If you confuse
the two concepts, you could be making a costly
Knowing who your high performers are is easy:
they’re the ones who are consistently exceeding
expectations and have solid successes under their
belts. But, how do you identify a high-potential
Industry experts have developed lists of certain traits
that high-potential employees possess. These traits
seem to be universal, and include: knowing the
business, garnering the respect of others, being
ambitious, working well with others, and taking risks.
• The Upside and Downside to
Acknowledging High Potentials
If you don’t acknowledge an employee’s potential,
you risk losing him or her to another company -
perhaps a competitor. However, singling-out certain
employees may cause morale issues within your
Acknowledging high-potential employees can be a
double-edged sword. High potentials need to be
appreciated, encouraged, and challenged. In
addition, they need to be mentored and measured.
With proper guidance, a high-potential employee can
reach higher performance levels.
Differentiating among employees can cause issues,
such as animosity among co-workers. When you
openly identify a high-potential employee, you risk
• Overcoming the Paradox
So, what’s a manager to do? You want to retain and
groom your high-potential employees, but you don’t
want to alienate other team members.
According to several studies, identifying
high-potential employees in a transparent way
achieves the best outcome. In other words, the good
outweighs the bad, and you’ll be better-positioned to
achieve a high-performance workplace.
• High Potential Development Equals
The purpose of identifying and nurturing
high-potential employees is to increase overall
company performance. A domino effect takes place
during this process: improved performance leads
to better morale, which leads to happier employees,
which leads to a lessened impact from recognizing
• How to Be More Effective in Identifying
and Managing High-Potential Employees
What can your company do to identify and actualize
high-potential employees? The Profiles International
eBook discusses four ways to do this:
1. Establish a definition for “potential.” What key
attribut s does an employee need in order to
advance within your organization?
2. Determine objective measurements. It’s important
to use assessment tools, rather than rely on
3. Make commitment a requirement for career
opportunities. You don’t want to invest heavily in
high-potential employees, only to have them bail on
4. Develop a program that prepares high-potential
employees for realistic future roles. This
preparation requires you to provide differentiated
• Three Ways to Identify High Potential
Companies must eliminate the process of selecting
and mentoring employees, based upon subjective
criteria. When left to this kind of input, personal
perceptions often creep in, and “buddies” get
Assessments are the best and most objective way to
identify high-potential employees. When used
correctly, professionally-developed assessments
create a standardized program for identifying talent
and measuring potential.
A reliable and validated assessment will
accommodate three requirements:
• Define the criteria
• Make the criteria measurable
• Use tools to measure the high-potential criteria
Several assessments are available to help
managers identify and promote high-potential
employees, including Profiles International’s
ProfileXT® and Profiles Performance Indicator™.
For More Information on Identifying
A high-potential employee doesn’t become a high
performer overnight. First, you need to identify your
high potentials. Then, you must help them become all
they can be. This new eBook will help you understand
the process, and will outline ways for you to improve
overall performance. Visit http://info.profilesinternation-
tials/ to download your copy today.
About the Author
Michael Wilk is VP of Corporate Marketing of Profiles
International, a research-focused company that helps
organizations worldwide create high-performing
Visit us at http://www.profilesinternational.com/index.
php or call 866-751-1644 for more information about
identifying High Potential Employees.