Employee Recognition: Differentiating High Performance from High Potential

“Take my 20 best people, and virtually overnight, Microsoft becomes a mediocre company.” This is one of Bill Gate’s famed quotes and it says a lot about how even those who excel at what they do may not be suited for leadership. Differentiating between high performers and high potentials can make a big difference in your bottom line. After all, 50% of all new leaders fail after assuming their new roles.  If you have troubles distinguishing performance and potential, then how will you spot talent?

Looking at the Two Types of Employees

High performers are easy to spot. They stand out with their amazing performance and exceed expectations. They’re often your go-to people for difficult projects with their star-studded track records. These team members are good at their job and proud of it.

High potentials are harder to find. In fact, only 30% of your high performers are high potentials. These team members will demonstrate initial aptitude for the job but also have the future potential to make a big impact for you and your company. Be careful to note that high potentials with sub-par performance rarely make for strong candidates for management roles.

High Potentials and Organizational Success

So how do you spot high potentials? Given the obvious shine of high performance, they’re usually drowned out. Few organizations will have an objective, systematic approach or valid assessments to identify them alongside their common attributes and competencies. They can be missed out on if all you reward is performance.

But make no mistake: high performers are necessary, so you should definitely value and reward them. The issue is that it’s hard to develop a robust talent pipeline line based on them alone because their personality traits and work-habits may not be enough for them to thrive in management roles.

Since only a third of high performers are high potentials, promoting the wrong people into the wrong positions can result in losing real, quality talent. A high potential employee leaving can cost your organization 3.5 times their annual compensation. This does not include the lowered productivity, knowledge loss and additional costs associated with finding a replacement.

Using Assessment Benchmarks

As a manager, you play a major role in building your talent pipeline and keeping it full of thriving talent so it’s important that you do so successfully. Though it’s no cakewalk, the good news is that it’s a problem with a solution. To get ahead, you can use pre-employment assessments to help you develop clear insights of your team.

Pre-employment assessments help you see how a person’s personality traits will affect their performance. Those can be done with a psychometric assessment that measures mental and behavioral characteristics against a specific benchmark, illustrating exactly what a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses are. Here at Prevue, our Job-Fit report displays these results in both visual and written formats, giving you access to clear and thorough insights right at your fingertips.

Many employers find themselves wondering how they didn’t realize that an individual wouldn’t be a good fit, but past performance and first impressions can fool nearly anyone. We are subject to biases, but assessments and benchmarks aren’t. The time and money you dedicate to identify high performers and high potentials, assessing their competencies and attributes, and putting them on the path to success will always be well spent.