How to Find and Develop High-Potential Employees

  • As "they" say, "good help is hard to find"...

High-potential employees are the talents that every organization actively hunts for. Such employees show high results in their work and take on complex projects that are beyond the power of ordinary specialists. Such talents have a realized personal potential and a well-mastered profession. Talents do not need constant monitoring, they build their own work and bear responsibility for it.

But there is also a downside. There is always a war going on for talent, and efforts and resources must be made to keep a high-potential employee in the state. Often, only professionals from IT recruitment process outsourcing companies can do this task.

What is HiPo

This concept has many interpretations, and they are all different. The easiest way to explain this concept is through the specific goals that a company sets when it begins to form groups of HiPo employees. There are 4 target options.

The transition of an employee to another position – vertical or horizontal growth. Most often, we are talking about growth from line to management positions, and a selected group of employees replenishes the company’s personnel reserve. The employee’s potential is expressed in competencies that are needed not right now, but for a future role.

Development of an employee at his position. Such goals for working with HiPo are inherent in specialties where there is a large delta between a beginner and an experienced employee. For example, in IT, there are great opportunities for immersion in expertise. The potential is the competencies that the employee needs here and now, as well as the inclinations for their growth.

Employee retention. For example, an employer does not want to move an employee to another position because he is needed in his place. Finding a replacement is expensive and difficult, but it will be easier to keep. Then a valuable employee is included in the HiPo program, which includes training and other benefits. In this case, the selection criterion is the result and indispensability. If you are afraid of losing an employee, then he is a HiPo.

Be no worse than others. Some companies get involved with HiPo because “everyone does it and we need it too.” And it’s not always bad. Then the HiPo selection criteria can be absolutely anything.

What are the characteristics of a HiPo employee?

There is no universal portrait of a person with high potential. HiPo can be anyone – an extrovert or an introvert, an adherent of flexibility or a strict system, a workaholic, or a supporter of work-life balance. It all depends on what kind of potential the employer evaluates.

But still, there is something that is inherent in any HiPo: loyalty to the company and motivation. No matter how great an employee is, it is hardly worth investing in his development if he is not eager to work for you. And motivation is especially important when you use HiPo for a talent pool. If a person does not want to be a leader, then it is useless to promote him in this direction.

Why do you need to develop HiPo

It is important for a business to understand what goals it faces and what tools can help achieve them. And the high-potential employee is one of those tools that, thanks to its versatility, is suitable for many purposes.

In addition, HiPo projects are used to recruit a talent pool: you form a group of people who can quickly close key positions in the company. Often HiPo employees are involved in additional project activities, for example, as ambassadors for implementing changes and for testing hypotheses.

How to identify HiPo in a company

Before starting the selection of employees for the HiPo group, candidates should be informed about how everything will happen and what positions they will be able to apply for after training. People need to understand where and why they are going.

Selection process:

  1. Set goals (positions that the company is going to close with the help of a personnel reserve).
  2. Determine the audience (employees among whom you will search for HiPo).
  3. Choose competencies (you should focus on competencies that are typical for positions that HiPo employees can apply for). So, it is necessary to evaluate not the skills and knowledge that a person needs to work now, but what will be required for a new role.
  4. Choose tools for measuring competencies
  5. Make measurements.
  6. Select employees who have shown the required result in the assessment.

How not to demotivate employees

Not everyone gets into the HiPo group. Not every HiPo who completes training gets a new role. This can be frustrating for people, but it shouldn’t be demotivating if you’ve done it right.

Here are 3 principles to follow in order not to demotivate employees:

  1. Transparency. People should know the selection criteria and their grades.
  2. Honesty. It is important to explain honestly that participation in the HiPo program does not guarantee anything, but only increases the chances of career growth.
  3. Feedback. You need someone who knows how to give feedback. If there is no such person, he must be hired. There are rules for feedback: remain honest and sincere, and do not talk down.

How to hire HiPo

Some companies are not only looking for potential in their current employees but also targeting HiPo in hiring. Thus, the evaluation and screening mechanisms are built into the selection process.

How to spot a potential HiPo during an interview

Talent assessment tools are varied and effective to varying degrees. As a rule, they are equally suitable for both selection and internal evaluation. Key factors for evaluating talent:

  • profile: personal qualities and talent skills that will allow him to be effective in the conditions of the assigned tasks;
  • candidate motivation;
  • the candidate’s ability to develop.

For internal evaluation, the performance of the employee will also play a big role.

Final thoughts

Finding and managing high-potential employees is a complex multi-tasking process. To bring real profit to the business, as well as reduce costs in the long term, it is necessary to systematically work on attracting, selecting, hiring, training, evaluating, and retaining HiPo. Responsibility for this lies both on the business and on the shoulders of HR. The best solution for a company that wants to attract HiPo is to partner with a reliable RPO company, for example, Alcor. This is an international company that provides customers with support in finding IT talents in Ukraine, Poland, and Romania.