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Of course all employees are valuable and should be treated accordingly, but in most workplaces there are certain staffers that are disproportionately valuable in comparison to their compensation. It’s wonderful to have one or two of these rare albatrosses on staff, but you can move your company ahead by leaps and bounds if you can build teams of high potential employees.
High potential talent is, as defined by a recent study on Strategic Human Resources Management, “employees whose particular skills and knowledge value make them vital to organizational success.” The study added, “High potential employees are highly talented and create a disproportional amount of value from the resources made available to them by the organization.”
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As an HR pro, this has got to intrigue you. Talent that can willingly produce far more output than expected based on the wages, benefits and tools accorded to them are a boon to the bottom line. So how can you attract these rare birds? And if you have them, or acquire them, how do you keep them engaged, performing well and nurtured?
It’s important that you be able to identify these creative, innovative, complex problem solvers and develop plans to manage this talent effectively to ensure retention. The notion that they need to be managed differently is a good reason to put these uber-staffers onto a team (or teams) together. Having them work side by side with average staffers may create inequitable management complaints, but clustering them can keep everyone happier.
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Here are some of the recommendations the study offers for creatively corralling high potential employees:
Admitted autonomy. These are not staffers you need to aggressively supervise – nor should you. They need to know they have the freedom to think outside all of the boxes and solve problems for the organization.
Equip them. If Iron Man doesn’t have the tools, he can’t build the metal super suits. Be prepared to provide the tools needed so these higher-level thinkers can produce results from you. This is critical!
Carve out borders. If you want great things from high potential employees, don’t bog them down in administrivia. Let them do what they do best and leave off paper pushing, rote staff meeting and other optional detractors from their core function.
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Tolerate mis-steps. Most great innovations have sprung from the ashes of failed attempts. Bell didn’t invent the phone in one go and Fleming almost tossed out the lab error that resulted in penicillin. Genius evolves out of failed trials. Don’t expect every idea to be a winner.
Goals, not guidance. High potential employees don’t need to be told how to do the job or even why you need them to. They are highly motivated people who are curious problem solvers. Just tell them what you need – the goal or objective – and let them go to it!
Grab a gaggle. If you’re a fan of House, you’ll remember he needed a team of smarties to bounce his genius theories off. High potential employees need like-minded thinkers to collaborate with. So grab yourself a fancy hat and accumulate an enviable stable of Derby-worthy mental horse-flesh.
Accommodate accordingly. Higher potential employees need a less restrictive environment. Mandating an 8:00 am start time, set lunch hours or other restrictive rules will dampen creativity and demoralize this type of worker.
As an HR pro, you can participate in designing recruiting strategies to attract high potential staffers. You can also help leaders develop management and feedback strategies to optimize the results the company can get from these powerful hires. And if you’re already stretched for time, consider adding Jobscience apps and products to your HR process to eliminate inefficiencies, optimize automation and free you from mundande (but necessary) administrative tasks to fully tap your talent!