Leading Human Resources

High Potential or High Performer? There is a difference!

Mistaking high performance employees for high potentials — or vice versa — can negatively impact an organisations ability to develop and retain top talent.

Despite this fact, many organisations struggle to distinguish one from the other, placing their short and long-term performance at risk. So, why does this happen, and how can we avoid it?

 

The difference between High Potential and High Performance
  • High Performance Individuals consistently deliver results. They know their job and are damn good at it. However, delivering results does not necessarily indicate that they will make a good leader.
  • High Potential Individuals have the ability and aspiration to become the next generation of leaders and are aligned to the organisation's culture and values. They may not be delivering results at the moment, but have the potential to deliver results and help those around them to deliver results!

 

High performers are rewarded for their results, not necessarily for the manner in which the results were achieved. A high performer might use brute force to get results, whereas a high potential might focus on aligning people and resources around a common goal.

 

The heart of the problem
  • It's much easier to measure performance than behaviour: Many organisations make a conscious decision to use performance as the primary measure of an employee’s value, forgoing the all important behaviors that are required for high potentials.
  • Unbalanced priorities: Some organisations make it a priority to identify, develop and reward high potential employees, often overlooking high performers.
  • Short term focus: Many organisations are under pressure to delivering results now. They lack a well thought out and articulated organisational development strategy.

 

Potential Impact
  • High performers are promoted and rewarded, while high potentials become disengaged with the lack of opportunities for advancement and growth.
  • High potentials are promoted and rewarded, while high performers become increasingly disenchanted with what they perceive as the wrong people being recognised and rewarded.
  • High performers are promoted into senior leadership roles and are not able to step up. This effects their individual performance and the performance of those around them.
  • High potentials are promoted without the necessary development and support, fail to deliver results, and eventually become disengaged and move on.

 

Developing High Performers
Define Success Profile Select and rigerously assess a cohort of high-performers to clearly identify the competencies required for success in the given role.
Identify Competency Gap Assess your high — or potential — high performers against the benchmarks defined in their respective success profile to identify the competency gap.
Career Planning Conduct regular, collaborative career planning discussions that take into account the competency gaps and the needs of the individual and organisation.
Invest in Their Growth

Opportunities for growth and advancement should be tied to performance and supported with a clearly defined development pathway. Things to consider:

- Structured development programs

- Competency based training

- Performance coaching

Manage Performance  Set clearly defined performance expectations and provide continual feedback on performance. Performance expectations should be fair but challenging!

 

Developing High Potentials
Define Success Profiles Select and rigerously assess cohorts of leaders to clearly identify the behaviours required for success at different stages of leadership.
Identify Competency Gap Assess your high potentials against the benchmarks defined in their respective success profiles to identify the competency gap.
Career Planning Conduct regular, collaborative career planning discussions that take into account the competency gaps and the needs of the individual and organisation.
Invest in Their Growth 

Opportunities for growth and advancement should be tied to performance and behaviour, and supported with a clearly defined development pathway. Things to consider:

- Customised leadership development tracks

- Job rotation to foster multi-disciplinary capabilities

- Unlimited self-directed learning opportunities

- Mentoring and Coaching support

Manage Performance  Set clearly defined expectations in relation to leadership behaviors and provide continual feedback on performance.

 

These are just some of the things you need to consider when identifying and developing high performance and high potential employees. There is no once size fits all solution!

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