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  • Lorea Lastiri

5 Tools to Identify High-Potential Employees (Ranked!)


Your high-potential employees (HIPOs) are the catalysts that have the power to propel your organization to new heights. These highly motivated individuals possess an exceptional blend of talent, ambition, and relentless determination making them stand out.

The HIPOs are the rising stars of your organization, the diamonds in the rough, the unsung heroes whose brilliance shines through their outstanding performance and untapped potential. Consequently, it is paramount for any organization to dedicate concerted efforts toward identifying high-potential employees.

A thorough evaluation of performance, skills, competencies, and future potential with the right tools helps distinguish the rising stars from the crowd.

It ensures that they receive the recognition and opportunities they deserve to drive growth and fuel the success of your organization.

HIPOs are the future leaders of your organization. They possess the charisma, vision, and leadership qualities to guide your company toward greatness.

You should strive to secure a talent pipeline that ensures long-term success and sustainability by identifying and nurturing these individuals.

In this article, we will talk about how you can identify the HIPOs in your organization using five of the most efficient tools used by several successful organizations.

What are high-potential employees?

A high-potential employee in your organization is an individual who possesses exceptional qualities and capabilities that set them apart from their peers. Your HIPOs demonstrate an almost insatiable hunger for growth and a remarkable aptitude for learning.

These employees take initiative, bring about positive change, and are often the driving force behind the success of any organization.

At their core, high-potential employees possess unique skills, traits, and characteristics that distinguish them from others.

They exhibit a strong sense of ambition and determination, always striving for excellence and pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

These individuals are not satisfied with mediocrity; they constantly seek new challenges, eagerly embracing opportunities for growth and advancement.

Moreover, your high-potential employees possess a remarkable capacity to adapt to change. They are agile and flexible, able to navigate complex and uncertain situations easily.

Rather than being overwhelmed by challenges, they view them as opportunities for growth and thrive in dynamic environments.

Difference between high-potential employees and high performers

Both these sets of employees in your organization share some common traits. However, their distinct characteristics and contributions to your organization set them apart.

While it is true that a high-performer in your organization delivers exceptional results in their current role, they often are not cut out to take on leadership roles. HIPOs, on the other hand, excel at their current job and are also inclined to take on more responsibilities, favor innovation and have good leadership qualities.

Undoubtedly, your organization's high performers are reliable, dependable, and consistently produce high-quality work.

They are your go-to individuals if you want to get things done efficiently and reliably, but they are not leaders.

While the HIPOs share these traits with your high-performing employees, they demonstrate remarkable qualities beyond their job performance.

HIPOs are exceptionally agile learners, great adapters, and have leadership potential.

It shouldn't come as a surprise then that organizations spend a lot of money and resources to identify high-potential employees.

Best tools to identify high-potential employees

If you want to unleash the power of your HIPOs, you must first identify them. Fortunately, you have several tools at your disposal to do just that.

Some tools are more efficient than others, but all play a crucial role in your quest to identify your HIPOs.

Here is a list of these tools ranked according to their ability to identify HIPOs in your organization:

1. Succession planning for future leaders

Succession planning is one of the best tools at your disposal when identifying HIPOs. The tool focuses on identifying employees with the potential to fill critical leadership roles in the future.

Succession planning helps you assess employees' skills, competencies, and aspirations and create development plans tailored to their growth and future leadership potential.

What succession planning does better than almost any other tool is to align top talent development with your organization's strategic objectives.

You ensure a pipeline of capable leaders by identifying and nurturing individuals with the necessary skills and potential. The tool helps address leadership gaps and minimizes disruptions during transitions.

However, you must be careful when deploying this tool as it assumes an individual's current skills and performance accurately predict their future potential.

As you can imagine, the assumption may not always hold. Employees develop new competencies or encounter challenges that may change their suitability for future leadership roles.

Therefore, it is essential to continuously reassess and update succession plans based on evolving organizational needs and employee development.

2. Talent reviews and calibration sessions

When used correctly, talent reviews and calibration sessions can be a great way to evaluate your employees' potential and readiness for advancement.

These sessions bring together senior leaders and managers to discuss and rank HIPOs based on agreed-upon criteria.

The collaborative approach ensures that the evaluation process consistently identifies and nurtures organizational talent.

The biggest competitive advantage of this tool is its collaborative approach. Rather than relying on employee performance matrices set by lower management, the tool employs senior leaders in the assessment process.

Unlike simple performance assessments, this tool uncovers the leadership capabilities of the HIPOs, allowing you a better understanding of your talent pool.

The strength of talent reviews and calibration sessions is their ability to leverage collective expertise and diverse viewpoints. These tools enhance objectivity and reduce individual biases in identifying high-potential employees by involving multiple decision-makers.

The discussions and debates during calibration sessions help align your organization's understanding of the potential and create a shared vision for top talent development.

However, talent reviews and calibration sessions can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Careful calibration is necessary to ensure fairness and consistency in evaluating employees.

Inaccurate assessments or biases can hinder the effectiveness of these tools. Proper training and guidance for managers in calibration are crucial to maximizing their benefits.

3. Performance assessment

Performance assessment is a great tool to evaluate your employee's performance based on predefined criteria. Some factors include key performance indicators (KPIs), goal attainment, and qualitative feedback from managers and peers.

The primary focus is to gauge your employee’s ability to meet expectations and deliver results in their current role.

The strengths of these assessments lie in their ability to measure an employee's performance against established benchmarks directly.

Using this method, you evaluate an individual's achievements, productivity, and ability to accomplish goals. The tool is valuable for identifying employees who consistently excel in their current roles.

However, the biggest limitation of these assessments is that they primarily reflect past performance. These assessments may not necessarily capture an employee's future potential.

In other words, this assessment tool is great for identifying a high performer but might struggle to identify and develop high-potential employees when deployed solely.

High-potential employees may possess skills and capabilities beyond what their current role demands.

Therefore, solely relying on high performance might overlook individuals with the potential for growth and advancement in different areas.

With Kippy, you can automate your performance assessments.

4. 360-degree feedback

360-degree feedback involves collecting feedback from multiple sources, including supervisors, peers, subordinates, and external stakeholders interacting with an employee.

As you can imagine, this comprehensive feedback provides a holistic view of an individual's performance and potential.

What makes 360-degree feedback better than other tools is its ability to gather diverse perspectives and insights.

Rather than being a unidimensional measure of employee productivity, this tool allows you to assess your employees from multiple perspectives.

The tool assesses employees' interpersonal skills, leadership qualities, and collaboration abilities. Involving various stakeholders captures a wider range of observations and experiences related to an individual's performance.

However, 360-degree feedback also has a few limitations you should consider.

One of the biggest ones is the subjective nature of the tool. In other words, this tool can influence employee assessment due to biases, personal relationships, or individual perspectives.

Inaccurate or inconsistent feedback from raters can lead to distorted assessments.

To mitigate these limitations, you should ensure clear guidelines and rater training to improve the reliability and validity of the feedback.

5. Behavioral assessments

Behavioral assessment is a great tool for identifying the HIPOs of your organization. It provides a way to evaluate your employee's personality traits, motivations, and preferences using psychometric and aptitude tests.

With this tool, you assess your HIPO’s potential for growth, adaptability, problem-solving skills, and leadership abilities.

The strength of behavioral assessments lies in their ability to assess your employee’s underlying personality characteristics and people skills.

Not many high-potential assessment tools put much stock in the employees' personalities. However, it plays a critical role in the ability of the HIPO to assume a potential leadership role in the future.

When you understand an employee's personality traits and preferences, you identify individuals with the desired leadership qualities.

Behavioral assessments can provide valuable information that other tools can’t. Using this tool, you can evaluate your employee's cultural fit, leadership style, and growth potential.

The information you gather using this tool is quite valuable when selecting a leader, which almost any other assessment tool does not provide.

However, you should use behavioral assessments as a part of your holistic evaluation process rather than stand-alone criteria.

While these assessments offer insights into an individual's potential, they may not capture all dimensions of high performance or future success.

Combining behavioral assessments with other tools, such as performance assessments or talent reviews, provides a more comprehensive view of an employee's potential.

Takeaway: Utilize the best tools to identify high-potential employees

Attracting and retaining high-potential employees is not just a great business strategy; it is necessary for today's fiercely competitive business landscape.

Recognizing and investing in these rising stars allows you to harness their potential, cultivate their talents, and create an environment that empowers them to thrive.

The result is an organization that is resilient and poised for extraordinary achievements.

While there are several tools to identify HIPOs in your organization, no single tool is inherently better than the others.

The effectiveness of these tools depends on their alignment with your organizational goals, the accuracy of implementation, and integration with other talent management processes.

It is best to combine these tools to understand an employee's potential comprehensively. The combination lets you make informed decisions about their development and future opportunities.

Factors such as industry, organizational culture, and available resources influence the appropriateness of these tools.

You must strive to refine these tools based on feedback to maximize their effectiveness.

Kippy is a great way to help you implement these tools in your organization. It can help you have a holistic approach to HIPO identification and lets you combine different tools to create a robust and reliable system.

Learn more about what Kippy can do to facilitate HIPO identification in your organization by scheduling a free demo today!

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