High Performers vs. High Potentials

Power People WEBAfter writing about high potentials in the nine part “Play it Again, Sam” series and having a coaching client who is taking a hard look at identifying high potentials in her organization, I wanted to explore this topic a bit further.

The Difference Between a High Performer and a High potential

A classic error many organizations make is promoting their top sales person to be the sales manager. More often than not, this ends in disaster. Just because someone can sell, doesn’t mean he or she can manage others or the sales process for that matter. The sales rep was a high performer, not a high potential. Now you promote the person who should have been promoted and he or she may feel like the second choice or the individual may have already quit for being passed over. It can be difficult to zero in on high potentials. More about that later. Michael Wilk with Profile International suggests 10 questions to ask in ferreting out a high potential.

Your Organization’s Strength is Only as Strong as Your High Potentials’ Strengths

RevDoorWEBSo now you’ve identified your high potentials, how are you planning on keeping them and why is it important? First let’s look at what high potentials can do for the organization.
A recent Gallup study suggests that employees who are engaged are more likely to have a higher level of commitment to the organization and are more productive. Moreover, they are better able to tolerate difficult business situations. If you’re a numbers person, engaged employees are:

  • 16% more productive (Lueneburger, 2009)
  • More committed to the organization by 32% (Spreitzer, Gretchen and Porath, 2012)
  • Capable of bringing up shareholder return by 9% (Stomski and Attkinsson, 2013)

At issue is the fact that high potentials are leaving organizations at record rates that are as high as 21% (Martin, Schmidt, 2010). What organization can afford to lose so much productivity? Therefore the next big question is how do we keep high potentials engaged and on board?