Identifying potential and high performers: How to promote your employees properly

Who is a high performer: A definition

High performers are employees and managers who regularly produce outstanding results for the company.

Who is a high potential: A definition

High potentials are specialists and managers who have a very good education relevant to the company and/or who know the relevant market very well, but who do not yet develop their performance ideally because they do not yet know the company well enough, because they have not been properly trained or because they are not deployed in the right place.

The importance of high performers and high potentials in the company

Companies owe the major part of their success to their top performers. High performers serve as “stable pillars” in companies. High potentials are on the threshold of developing into high performers. With the help of the pool of high potentials, companies can expand the number of their high performers.

Therefore, concentrate on your high performers. But also encourage high performers who are not yet performing to their full potential. Some of your high performers will show further potential. These are your top performers who deserve the highest recognition. However, also recognise high performers who no longer have potential or who no longer wish to develop.

You should part with employees who neither deliver the expected performance nor show potential as soon as possible. They only tie up your scarce attention and valuable time. Instead of spending a lot of time and effort on motivating non-performing or underperforming employees, focus on your high potential and high performers who need attention.

How to identify your high performers in the company

People differ from each other not only in terms of their performance and potential, but also professional and personal. The personality and behaviour of professional and managerial staff are just as valuable to companies as professional competencies and performance.

Develop meaningful criteria to assess P&MS for all three dimensions: (1) performance and potential, (2) personality and behaviour, and (3) professional skills. When defining the criteria, make sure they are consistent with the current and future demands on your organisation. Requirements for your staff should be developed in line with the requirements for your organisation.

Assess your professional and managerial staff against these criteria and share your assessment with them in confidential staff interviews. If you can find a consensus between your assessment and the self-assessment of your staff, you have reached a basis for staff development.

Promote and challenge high performers

Regularly record recognised qualifications, experiences, performance potentials and behavioural patterns of your specialists and managers and try to close them through systematic personnel work. Show your appreciation openly by entrusting your high performers and high potentials with higher-value tasks and promoting their development. This sends a signal to other second- and third-tier employees.

Conclusion: The right way to deal with top talents and high performers

Identify your top talents and your top performers. Show these top professionals and managers that you value them and their work. Focus your attention on these top performers and develop them systematically.

This is how you “live” appreciation and bind your potential and high performers to your organisation.


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