high potential employees

high potential employees

The term “HiPo” has become a buzzword in the world of HR over the past few years. The theory behind hiring a high potential employee is looking beyond what they can do now and evaluating how you can nourish them to live up to their potential. The benefits are multifaceted: the employee can learn and grow, and the company benefits from having a talented individual working for them rather than the competition.

The challenge is identifying and hiring high potential employees. Here are five tips HR managers can use to find, recruit, and retain high potential employees.


Clarify Your Definition of “High Potential”

While the term “high potential” is somewhat self-explanatory, it could look slightly different from one company to the next. Before implementing a strategy to attract these talented candidates, HR managers and leadership must first clarify the definition of “high potential” as it relates to their business.

The characteristics of a HiPo can be both qualitative and quantitative. Perhaps they have a specific background or experience profile and score high on different skills assessments and personality tests. Alternatively, it could be more of an attitude or trait, such as powerful teamwork skills, the ability to be autonomous, and the drive to advance in their career.

Start by identifying high potential employees within the organization and outline what characteristics have made them so valuable. Then, use that framework to shape a definition of a potential HiPo in your business.


Look Beyond the Resume

When evaluating one’s potential, you’re taking into consideration an unknown future. That means it is vital to look beyond the resume and assess the whole person in the hiring process.

Keep in mind that a resume is just a snapshot of one’s experience and may vary based on whether someone created their own resume or used a service. If you take some time to learn about the resume writing process, you’ll see that it’s designed to appeal to HR managers and automated applicant tracking systems (ATS). So, that first impression may not reflect the true potential of the candidate.

It’s also essential to look at the story behind the experience and education on a resume. The drive and tenacity of someone who put themself through state college could be dramatically different from someone who received a scholarship to an Ivy League university. 


Build a Strong Company Culture

To attract top talent, you’ll need to present your company to candidates as you would present your brand to customers. You can accomplish this by building a strong company culture with clearly defined values and a bold brand voice. 

Create protocols and initiatives around employee wellness, engagement, and work-life balance. Ensure that everyone has a voice, can set goals, and is provided with the opportunity to learn and grow. Remember that your employees are your best marketers when trying to attract top talent.


Fit the Job to the Person

While job descriptions provide a great framework for baseline expectations within a role, they aren’t meant to be set in stone. When you find a high potential employee, it’s better to fit the job to the person, than to fit the person to the job. 

Give your high potential employees tasks and projects suited to their skills, regardless of whether they fit the basic job description or not. Create more space for this work by delegating tasks that don’t fall within their core strengths; chances are, someone else will be better suited for these tasks anyway.


Create a Powerful Retention Strategy

Finally, develop a powerful retention strategy for your company. It’s not enough to attract top talent; you need a reason for them to stay. 

Focus on giving employees what they need and setting them up for success. Create opportunities for growth within the organization, and be open to negative feedback that will help shape the future of the business.

With these five tips, you can attract, nourish, and retain high potential employees and enhance your organization.

Photo by Emmy E from Pexels

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