Making the Most of High Potential People in Your Organization

High potential people are valuable to have at your workplace. They are not only high performing and can boost your productivity levels, but they also have the capability to be successful in supervising and managerial positions. 

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There are several benefits to having high potential employees at your workplace, including:

  1. Succession planning - organizations need to have succession plans and your high potential employees will be clear to bringing that plan to life. 
  1. Cost savings - high potential people learn and advance quicker than other employees. That means you won’t have to invest as much money in developing them. 
  1. Skill identification - these employees are also adept at recognizing other highly skilled employees in your ranks. This means you’ll be able to make the most of all the talent you have. 

Surprisingly, just five percent of most workplaces are made up of high potential employees, according to the Harvard Business Review. That makes these individuals even more valuable to your company and recognizing their contribution is key.  

Ways to Recognize High Potential People Among You

Knowing who your high potential employees are will be important in engaging them, developing them and encouraging them. 

Here are some things to look for in people who are likely your high potential employees:

  • Initiative - high potential people demonstrate initiative. They don’t need to be told what to do, rather they are among the first to take action if they recognize a problem. 
  • Calm, cool and collected - people who keep their heads in a crisis are usually high potentials. You may even find that they thrive in these high-pressure situations. 
  • Curious - employees who are interested in the future of your company will ask a lot of thoughtful questions. High potential employees like to understand the effort that goes into decision making. They usually have their sights set on leadership positions within your organization, which means they want to understand what goes on behind the scenes. 
  • Informed - because they are so driven, high potential employees like to be informed about the industry and any new developments that could transform operations. This desire for knowledge is a good thing and you should encourage it. 
  • Helpful - when they see co-workers overwhelmed, high potential people will be the first to step up to help out. They enjoy taking on more responsibilities and new tasks so offering to help is second nature to them. 

While there are some common traits that high potential people have in common, each organization will have different criteria to help identify their high potential employees. A large part of the identification process involves knowing what your organization wants and needs in future leaders. Once you have a clear idea of the skills and talent you value, it will become easier to recognize your high potential people. You’ll also be in a better position to develop their full potential. 

How to Develop Your High Potential Employees

Keeping your high potential employees happy is key if you want them to stay and be a part of your organization over the long-run. Research has found there are several things you can do to let them know they have a future at your company. These include:

  • Recognize them. The reality is high potential people know who they are and what they are capable of. The soon you acknowledge their talent the more likely they will be to engage with your organization. One study found that 77 percent of high potential employees said that being formally acknowledged as a high potential employee was important. 
  • Create a career path for them. These employees long to have a clear picture of their future. Creating a career path that allows them to see what the future holds for them is one of the best ways to invest in your high potential employees. 
  • Mentor them. Mentorships provide a great opportunity to develop your high potential employees further. Connecting them with a more experienced leader at your organization can help these high potential people cultivate skills that are central to your organization’s future. 
  • Train them. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your high potential employees. Then seek out training opportunities to help them develop in the areas they need it most. You can also add some extra leadership training that can help them make the most of their potential. 


There are a number of advantages for organizations that have high potential employees. Even though these employees only make up about five percent of most workplaces, they make a big difference. They not only raise your productivity level and, in turn, revenues. They can even encourage other employees to raise their game. 

To find out more about how mentoring software can help you develop your high potential employees’ skills, talk to us about our high potentials program

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