Leadership & Communication

How to manage high-potential employees

6 Aug 2013, by Informa Australia

A big part of a manager’s job is to identify who is contributing to the overall success of the company and who needs to pull their socks up.

red manHowever, the temptation is to concentrate too much on the staff members who need the most help, while allowing high-potential employees to regulate themselves.

While they may enjoy the freedom to begin with, if left to their own devices too long they could suffer from a lack of motivation.

This can result from them feeling ignored, overworked and underappreciated, which in a worst-case scenario could see them fleeing to your biggest competitor.

Here are some top tips for efPerformance Mgmt Skills fectively managing your rising stars, ensuring they achieve their full potential and remain satisfied in their job.

Pair them with mentors
Partnering them with an effective mentor (which includes you) who is more experienced and knows the ropes will ensure they get the best possible training and development from an early stage.

This will make them feel engaged and important, and provides them with someone to bounce ideas off and who will offer detailed feedback.

Not only this, you will have someone to call on should your more experienced staff take holidays or phone in sick, providing a makeshift contingency plan.

An additional benefit is that your seasoned veteran may also feel honoured to be given the role of mentor to some of the company’s prospects – they may even learn a thing or two themselves.

Don’t bog them down with trivial duties
Your high-potential employees will already be ambitious, driven and capable – so wasting these attributes by giving them mundane and trivial tasks is of no benefit to anyone.

Giving them visibly important assignments will not only make them feel valued, you can rest assured they will throw all their effort into making them a success.

While you may be reluctant to give high-profile duties to those showing potential, they need to be taken out of their comfort zone and throwing them in the deep end will ensure they get their hands dirty early.

Remember, they will probably make mistakes but that is a valuable part of workplace development.

Strike the right communication balance
As mentioned earlier, it can be easy for managers to simply let their high-potential employees fend for themselves.

This is because they do not need hand-holding and are adept at motivating themselves, and it is important not to stifle them by looking over their shoulder every five minutes.

But failing to acknowledge them at all – or overburdening them with thankless jobs because they are a safe pair of hands – also isn’t ideal.

Consider communicating to your high-potential employees that you value their opinions, see great things ahead for them and encourage them to come to you with ideas of how to improve business processes.

Also make sure to give regular performance assessments, as your best performers will always be eager to see how they are doing and learn ways to improve.

Invest in training and development opportunities
Highly motivated and goal-orientated individuals will require new challenges to remain engaged in the workplace.

Punctuating their regular duties with training and development opportunities will ensure they don’t get bored in their current role, while facilitating their progress into higher positions.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Many businesses offer certifications and courses, but there are other ways to incentivise them through learning.

Are there opportunities to travel within the job? Preferably to overseas branches? A change of scenery and the chance to travel the world will be well valued by your up-and-comers.

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