While our natural tendency is to think, “Of course!” that’s not always true. In fact, Harvard Business Review recently ran an article on “How to Keep Your Top Talent,” that featured a number of rather fascinating statistics about high-potential employees. After studying 20,000 employees dubbed as “emerging stars” over six years in over 100 organizations around the world, Jean Martin and Conrad Schmidt concluded that …
- 1 in 3 high potentials employees admits to not putting their all into their job
- 1 in 4 believes they’ll be working for another employer by the end of the year
- 1 in 5 believes that their personal aspirations are different from what the organization has planned for them
- 4 out of 10 have little confidence in their co-workers and even less in the senior team
In other words, there may be more trouble out there than you see (or are acknowledging). So, what should you do? Well, here are a few thoughts, all of which could be summed up in one phrase,
Don’t treat your thoroughbreds the same way you treat everyone else!
1. Give them challenging assignments. High-potentials get bored easily and tend to disengage accordingly. However, they love a challenge. So keep throwing them stimulating projects where they know they can make a difference.
2. Give them access to you. High-potentials want contact with the person at the top–and not just occasionally. They like knowing they have access to the “king” (or “queen” :-). Relationships build far greater loyalty than anything else. So, invest time in them. Talent development should always be high on your agenda!
3. Give them inside info. Let them know they know things that not everyone else does. And share your future ideas and strategies with them. In other words, make sure they know that they’re not just getting the same information that everyone else in your company is getting.
4. Give them lots of freedom. Thoroughbreds don’t like to be harnessed. So, don’t try to control or contain or limit them. Give them as much autonomy as possible to get the job done. Thoroughbreds flourish when they get to make the calls. Yes, they’ll make messes. But they’ll also get your company where you want to get faster.
5. Give them more. Give them more recognition. Give them more money (or other forms of compensation). And give them more assignments. High-potentials thrive in an environment where they’re given more–so make sure you give them what they want.
Forget “fairness” and “equity.” Jefferson was wrong. We’re not all created equally. We all have equal worth and value as human beings, but we don’t all have the same skill sets and abilities. Nor does everyone on your team have the same impact on your business or organization.
So, who are you high-potentials (along with your current top performers)? And what is your plan for each of them this year? Remember the stats above. You just can’t assume they’ll always be with you–or that they’re giving you all they can. They do have more. And the better you are at releasing that more, the better you and your business will do! And the longer they’ll be with you!
To your accelerated success!