HBR states the ability to manage oneself and to manage others are the core elements of emotional intelligence. So, an early indicator of high potential is emotional intelligence, which can be assessed by psychometric tests and further refined through training and development.
Drive – the will and motivation to work hard, achieve, and do whatever it takes to get the job done. HBR says drive can be assessed by standardized tests that measure conscientiousness, achievement motivation, and ambition but can also be identified behaviourally – how hard an individual works, willingness to take on extra duties and assignments, eagerness for more responsibility, and even readiness to sacrifice.
For instance, many executive-level roles require a global mindset and a degree of cross-cultural experience. The willingness to embrace a degree of psychological and even physical discomfort and relocate to gain the experience and develop these skills separates talented individuals from true high potential employees.
Although many organizations do invest in the identification of high potentials, there is then less attention paid to the development of high potential individuals. According to Hogan, some surveys show as many as 95% of organizations fail to follow-through on high potential development plans.
The important fact to remember is that these individuals have been identified as having high ‘potential’ i.e. they are not fully-fledged leaders ready to step into senior executive roles; they need developing and nurturing.
‘Virtually every individual identified as having the potential for a leadership role will require some degree of development. Personality assessment provides an ideal base for building custom development plans for high-potential employees,’ says Hogan.
The University of North Carolina (UNC) Kenan-Flagler Business School says if people are identified as high potential individuals, it is important to take action for their development soon after in order to keep employee morale and productivity high.
‘Implementing and communicating a well thought out high-potential identification plan will improve high-potential selection, increase the perception of fairness within an organization, and reduce high-potential drop-out rates,’ adds UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.
‘Yes, or they’ll quit,’ says Dr Robert Hogan, founder of Hogan.
His view is that real high potential employees will know that they are out-performing their peers and will always be wondering if anyone in the business has noticed their potential. By not informing them that they are on the company’s radar for future leadership or soon to be enrolled in your high potential development program, they are very likely to look elsewhere for employment.
However, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School advises caution when considering whether to inform an employee.
‘Employees may deserve to know that they are excelling, and their performance is reaching high standards with the potential for advancement, but in some cases, this can lead to inflated egos and increased expectations,’ writes UNC’s executive development team on its blog.
The role of People Science
A key part of successfully identifying high potential individuals involves knowing your people. This is where People Science steps in.
People Science begins with having accurate and accessible people data, all in one place – a single source of truth as we like to call it.
With People Science, organizations can use data to develop stronger and predictive insights about their people and motivations. These insights can then be used for predictive purposes so that managers can start to understand and make decisions based on people behavior and motivations – which will massively help with the uncovering of high potential people within your business.
With the current skills shortage and war on talent, it makes sound business sense to start identifying the untapped potential already sitting inside your organization. With the right strategy and tools in place, uncovering and identifying these talented individuals will become easier and part of your business process.
And when employees realise you have discovered their future potential, they are much more likely to be engaged, committed and deliver consistently.
Find out more about using People Science in your organization. Download our ebook on the five vital steps to greater workforce visibility.