High-potential employees are, plainly speaking, the future of any organization. In the present, they are the star performers who drive business results and bring new ideas to the table. In the future, they will be the ones to lead your organization through change and instability.

The problem; it is harder than ever to encourage top talent to stay with your organization, and this is especially true for the next generations of workers. Millennials are notoriously disloyal employees – in a study conducted by Ceridian, they found that 63% of people under 30 thought that the optimal time to stay with an employer is less than five years.


High potential employees want career opportunities, not just development

It’s well-known among L&D professionals that growth and development are one of the top requests of high potential employees. However, giving your best employees opportunities to better themselves is only one part of the equation.

In a world where a talented employee has the choice between a junior role at a multinational and a startup offering them a VP-level job title, it is more important than ever for organizations to help high potentials get excited about career opportunities within their current employer. This is especially true of millennials, who will quickly leave roles where they feel stagnant.

We’re not saying that it isn’t important to develop the skills and competencies of your top talent, because it absolutely is. The key takeaway is that any development that takes place should be tied to a set of well-defined career objectives in order to maximize retention.

High potential employees, especially Millennials, need to know that the hard work they are putting in is going to lead them to new opportunities within your organization.


How can you get high potential employees to think about their future with your organization?

In the high potential programs that we’ve developed for organizations around the world, our coaches help high potentials think about three things; their career vision, their career goals, and their career options. These items are then used as a basis for a coaching plan that spans six to twelve months.

These types of programs provide measurable improvements in job satisfaction and intention to remain with the company, in addition to helping accelerate success. They can also help participants zero in on key development areas such as networking, personal branding, and/or leadership skills to help them get to the next level faster.

Career Vision

Often, people are focused on the next one or two steps in their career. We suggest getting high potential employees to take a step back and think about where they might want to be twenty years from now. One way to accomplish this is to ask them to imagine that they are being profiled in a magazine or newspaper, and what they’d like that article to say.

Career Goals

When discussing goals with employees, we suggest having them think about “success” from a few different perspectives. Ask your high potential employees about the types of skills they want to develop, and what kind of legacy they would like to leave.

Having an idea of what success actually means for your high potential employees enables you to have better conversations about how they can achieve their goals within your organization.

Career Options

Talking about an employee’s “career vision” helps them focus on what they want for themselves long term, and bringing attention to someone’s “career goals” gets them thinking about the specific things they want to accomplish. The last thing we do with high potential employees is encourage them to come up with a list of success criteria, and then explore different career paths and roles that meet those criteria. This forces them to think creatively about how they can achieve their goals and vision.

Career Coaching

Many organizations we work with require participants in their high potential programs to go over their vision, goals, and options with a senior leader, who is in the position to offer some feedback, advice, and perspective. Each participant then receives one-on-one coaching to aid them in creating action plans and executing on them in the months following the program.


Free Guide – How to Design a Leadership Development Program

Aside from increasing agility and staying competitive, there are many other reasons that organizations should invest in leadership development. For a full explanation, as well as examples of what these programs look like, download our free guide, How to Design a Leadership Development Program.
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