As a Chief People Officer and leader of human resources, ensuring your high-potential employees are engaged and working on the highest impact initiatives is critical to your company’s success. Orienting your high-potential employees toward revenue-generating initiatives will provide the greatest return on investment and prepare them for their next role.

High-potential employees comprise the next generation of leaders within your company. As you look toward succession planning or assigning resources to key strategic initiatives, the pool of high-potential employees is where most companies look to for resources who can solve their most compelling long-range challenges. But what if there is a near-term objective to orient this talent pool towards? What if your company were able to harness these high-potential employees to lead strategic initiatives in their domain or cross-functionally to impact revenue in the current, or upcoming, fiscal year?


According to Harvard Business Review, high-potential employees account for an average of 5% of your workforce. Identifying a high-potential employee is relatively easy. Making sure they are engaged and mobilized in the direction of revenue growth and tangible business impact is something many companies fail to do. As a Chief People Officer, you can ensure that each organization consistently identifies its high-potentials, engages them in meaningful work, and orients them toward short-term and long-term revenue growth opportunities.


How Do You Know Who a High-Potential Employee Is?


There are many indices that identify which characteristics high-potential employees have in common.


Among the most important factors are:


  1. Lead from the front. High-potential employees are more likely to assume a leadership role in cross-functional or group projects. They delegate effectively and coordinate disparate activities while ensuring high-impact work from themselves and team members.


  2. Driven to excel. High-potential employees are driven to succeed and consistently deliver results. They are willing to make necessary sacrifices to achieve their goals providing evidence of personal commitment above the norm.


  3. Navigate ambiguity. High-potential employees have a natural tendency to gravitate toward projects or environments that offer a more fluid way of working. They are willing to innovate and take risks in pursuit of results.


  4. Highly adaptable. High-potential employees look for roles and assignments that provide variety and opportunity; they have a good feel for timing and an ability to read situations to create an advantage for themselves and others.


If you’re struggling to identify high-potential employees, start with this Characteristics of a High Potential Employee checklist and scorecard.


Once you’ve identified the high-potential employees in each organization, you need to orient this pool of talent toward the business strategies that will drive revenue growth. High-potential employees expect to be challenged and put on a course to prove themselves worthy of future leadership opportunities.


Here are a few examples of assignments that will engage high-potential employees and provide an opportunity for them to make a strategic impact:


  1. Rotational assignment: Rotate managers across disciplines, business units, or geographic territories. Job rotation exposes high-potentials to a wide range of operations enabling them to increase their contextual competence while bringing a new perspective to the functional area they are rotating into.


  2. Specialized opportunities: These “invitation-only” programs depend on executive sponsorship to actively mentor participants. High-potential employees who participate gain close access to senior executives and increase their ability to operate at a strategic level.


  3. Task force: Groups of high-potential employees are placed into a group to solve a specific, real, strategically-important problem. Guided by executive mentors, the group will grapple with a vexing challenge and will make an informed recommendation to the executive staff.


How Do I Know What Initiatives to Align High-Potential Talent to in Order to Drive Revenue?


Revenue growth is achieved through three means: market expansion, market exposure, and market share performance.


Here are some prompts to catalyze the identification of a project or assignment that will drive revenue growth for your organization:


  • Market expansion: overall expansion of market segments


    • What products or services can your organization develop and launch to serve the existing market?
    • To what extent can strategic partnerships or alliances be leveraged to gain exposure to new buyers in your existing market segment?
    • How can your organization increase how much your existing customers buy from you?


  • Market exposure: gaining exposure to new growth markets


    • What markets are there for your product and services that you aren’t addressing? What products or services can your organization develop and launch to serve new users?
    • To what extent should a new product or service be priced higher or lower than competitors to have the best impact?
    • Are there geographic opportunities to increase market exposure for your existing products and services? Are there new channels to explore that will gain access to new markets or new buyers?


  • Market share performance: gaining share in existing markets


    • What is the actual state of the market? To what extent is the market growing, declining, or is it stable?
    • To what extent can the price point of your products and services positively impact competitive pressure to drive revenue?
    • Are there opportunities to better differentiate the product or service to go after fringe, or niche, categories in the market?


How SBI Can Help


Orienting high-potential employees toward revenue growth initiatives ensures that they are engaged and working productively toward generating tangible impact for the company.


Download the Characteristics of a High Potential Employee checklist and scorecard to get started with a structured approach to identifying high-potential employees.


For more insight on how to identify and align internal resources on the real drivers of revenue growth, listen to this podcast. Finally, for more information about how to get the most out of your organization’s human resources, leverage SBI’s new Talent Strategy.



Additional Resources


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