Are You in Danger of Losing Your Top Talent?

graphic of a roller coaster with a large, dangerous gap in the rails

Filling your company’s leadership pipeline with top talent is one of an executive team’s most important strategies for the future growth and health of the organization.

Yet few companies do this well.

They may identify high potential employees and have a HIPO program to groom them, but their selection criteria are often flawed and the programs typically miss the mark in terms of retaining and creating high performing leaders. If you have chosen a few stars to ride the roller coaster to the top, make sure you have reviewed the following tips on how to do it right.

• Choose high performers carefully.
In singling out high performers for special treatment, be sure you consistently and fairly apply the right criteria. Certainly they need to have the ability. But many companies make the mistake of assuming that the ability to perform well in their current job role qualifies them to perform well in other, broader and more significant roles. As best you can, make sure they have the technical, emotional and intellectual capabilities that strong leaders need to succeed in progressively higher level and more complex positions.

In addition, check out their true level of engagement with your company. You should not assume that they are as committed to the organization as you are to them. Our own employee engagement research tells us that up to 25% of high potentials expect to be looking for another job within the year. Additionally, clients tell us that as many as 20% of high potentials do not believe that their personal goals align with what the company plans for them. These statistics highlight a serious disconnect and a big opportunity.

• Treat them well.
High potential employees are more demanding and yet, many believe, they deserve to be. In terms of rewards and recognition, they should earn more because they work harder and are significantly more productive. Even in downturns when money is tight, experts recommend that your top talent be regularly rewarded—if not financially, then in any way you can. High potentials count on being noticed and appreciated for their contributions. If you want to promote high performance, make sure that those who contribute the most receive the greatest share of the rewards.

Treat your top talent specially but do not protect them from the realities and challenges ahead. They should have assignments that test their flexibility, their willingness to learn and their ability to handle risk, failure and stress. That’s what the best leaders must do to succeed. Make sure the top talent you are grooming to lead has what it will take to shoulder the future demands of the business.

• Share current and future corporate strategies.
To keep high potentials engaged, give them opportunities to share in high level discussions about the future direction of the company. They need to feel confidence in senior management and in the plans going forward. When they are given a role in planning the company’s future, they are much more committed to staying right where they are. Invite them into the executive suite to learn about the concerns and responsibilities of leaders. Rather than assign them to line managers for their “business education,” give them a chance to learn at the feet of successful leaders.

Engaging and retaining top talent matters. Don’t risk losing your rising stars. Select them thoughtfully, recognize them with special rewards, and challenge them to help build the company in a way that keeps them aboard.

Download the Talent Management Recipe for Success

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