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Identifying & Tracking High Potential Talent

October 1, 2018

Only 60% of Companies Identify and Track High Potential Employees.



An important foundation for an organization's success is the identification and development of its people and most importantly its high-potentials. However, HR consistently reports that internal processes to identify and develop high potential talent are missing or nonexistent.


There are valid justifications to recognize and grow high-potential talent. According to a UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Leadership Survey, business reasons include filling future demand in leadership positions (83 percent); retention (83 percent); and improved company performance (73 percent).


High-potential workers make up, at most, the top 5 percent of an organization's overall workers. These employees have the potential and capacity to fill important positions in the organization, and once identified, are regularly singled out for opportunities intended to set them up for future leadership positions. 


Recognizing high-potential talent is a critical advance for any business, yet only 9 percent of HR experts, reacting to an AMA Enterprise Survey, said they had a deliberate process to do so. By far, most (86 percent) said that they had a "for the most part casual" or "blend of efficient and formal" procedures to distinguish high-potential workers. 

An ongoing study directed by the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, for instance, found that while HR departments express a desire to develop high potential talent, almost half (47 percent) said their present high-potential talent pool did not meet their foreseen needs, and 65 percent said they were just slightly or moderately confident that they could fill mission-critical positions. 


Acknowledging and developing high-potential workers can decrease turnover and the expense of finding new talent. Identifying high-potential talent can also improve satisfaction with the organization and lead to more workers staying with the company long term.


Advantages to identifying and developing high potentials include: 


  • Improved bench strength for key positions 

  • An improved organization ability to adapt 

  • Decreased danger of a "profession crash" 

  • Greater skill base in talent pools 

  • Increased ability to internally source top talent for important roles 


HR professionals can build up an orderly, criteria-based way to deal with and recognize high-potential workers by consolidating the accompanying strides in their own particular high-potential programs. 


  • Stage 1: Plan for future administration and staffing needs

  • Stage 2: Define high-potential criteria

  • Stage 3: Make high-potential criteria quantifiable

  • Stage 4: Systematically distinguish high-potentials


Identifying and developing high-potential talent, utilizing a formal methodology, can enhance high-potential loyalty, improve worker commitments to an organization, and diminish high-potential drop-out rates and turnover. It can, likewise, expand an organization's bench strength, giving leadership an advantage over their competitors.


Study after study shows stronger financial performance in companies that make greater investments in identifying and developing top talent. If you would like to learn how to identify and track the high-potential employees in your organization, contact us to learn more.


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