Getting high-performing individuals to join your team is one of the necessities of successful company growth and business development. However, in today’s competitive job market, it’s very difficult to get top-shelf candidates interested. You might have noticed a large increase in the demand for job titles like “ninjas”, “unicorns”, and “rockstars” which goes to show that these days, companies have to try really hard in order to recruit star-level talent.
But What If We Can’t Get Them to Join?
Some senior positions are very difficult to fill. Usually, it’s because competition is fierce and it skyrockets demands of potential candidates. Other times, it may be because the skills required are very specific and also rare, meaning you’re going to have to choose from a smaller talent pool.
Taking a closer look at your current staff to discover talent is a great way to compensate for the difficulties you come across during the hiring process. Identifying talented employees or high-potential individuals (also known as HiPos) that are already a part of your organization and investing in their development is a very important aspect of talent management.
Not only is it a great way to fill senior positions without initiating extensive recruitment and hiring campaigns, but you’re also placing your bets on people you know. You have relevant expectations about how they’ll handle specific situations. Since they’ve been a part of your company for a while, you know they’re a cultural fit.
Characteristics to Look for in Talented Employees
When looking to identify talented employees, these are the four characteristics you should search for:
It’s a good idea to look out for people who are aware of their development and approach it strategically because, in that scenario, your goals are perfectly aligned. They are looking to better themselves and you’re looking for a way to help them become a stronger asset to the company. Those who strive for self-improvement will be more likely to welcome and appreciate your efforts to help them grow.
Senior roles always come with some degree of managerial work. So it’s crucial that you look for people that have attributes that would make them a good leader one day. Top-level leadership requires an array of characteristics, skills, and qualities. Some can be developed by taking on a new role or via training but you should be able to spot specific behaviors that show an employee’s leadership potential. These include taking initiative, accepting additional responsibility, good communication skills, and high emotional intelligence.
Efficient growth inevitably comes from situations where people rely on a set of healthy habits. Identifying good habits of your employees provides your assessment with consistency because these are the behaviors that are not very likely to change. Check out this list of habits of super successful people to get a better impression of what types of behavior you should look out for!
Represent Company Culture and Values
Lastly, talented employees should be personally invested in your company and its future. Employees who have internalized company culture will draw motivation and inspiration from this connection. This also means they truly value being part of the company, which makes them more likely to stick around.
Methods of Identifying Talented Employees
Analyzing performance and behavior is the most common approach for determining whether or not an employee is talented. There are many assessment methods you can use to get a better idea of your employee’s potential. Some of the most popular techniques include personality and cognitive ability tests, structured behavioral interviews, and work simulations. SHRM has created a detailed list of effective talent assessment here!
Since the people you are assessing have been working in your company for some time, you’ll have access to all sorts of performance metrics for overall consideration. When analyzing employee performance to determine their level of potential, it’s strongly recommended to focus on their growth and not so much on the results. A talented person you’re looking for won’t necessarily stand out on results alone, but they could be relevant candidates if they improve their performance significantly in a short amount of time.
It’s important to point out that it’s not just about acquiring the data, it’s about knowing what to look for. The metrics that you’re taking into account have to be relevant and adapted to the needs of your business in particular. Different positions will require different skill sets and characteristics, but your unique company culture will and should affect the standards of appraisal as well.
How to Help Talented Workers Grow
Once you’ve identified talented individuals in your company, create a set of processes that allows them to reach their full potential. These are some of the most proven ways of helping your HiPos get to the next level:
Develop a Mentorship Program
One-on-one mentoring relationships can be a very effective way of employee development. If you yourself are not able to step into a mentorship role, you need to find someone within the company who can. Make sure that the person you’ve chosen to be the mentor has the required skills you’d like for them to pass on to a talented mentee.
Provide Them with Frequent Feedback
Feedback is an essential component of learning and you need lots of it if you want to grow efficiently. Annual reviews won’t cut it. Try to develop a habit of providing your employees with regular feedback. Aside from getting personally involved, you can also encourage your employees to share feedback amongst themselves.
Give Them More Responsibility
Senior-level employees have to be resilient and resilience is developed over time, through experience and dealing with adversity. By allowing your talented employees to take on more responsibility and go outside of their comfort zone, you allow them to develop new skills. You’ll also be getting a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
Allow Them to Move Laterally
Letting high-potential employees experience new assignments and roles instills a broader perspective in them. Not only is it another solid way for employees to build resilience but they’ll also be able to understand their coworkers better. That understanding should then make them a better team player.
About the Author
Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus – a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.