The Difference Between High Potential and High Performance

Many employers make the mistake of confusing high performance with high potential. Both are important and nice to have, but high performance is what most often gets noticed. As a result, signs of high performance often overshadow the indicators of high potential. Make an effort to distinguish between performance and potential and recognize the two serve different roles and need to be managed and mentored accordingly.

Delineate the guidelines or hallmarks of what distinguishes high potential employees (HiPos) so you can identify these traits in your team members. Signs of high potential may include a cooperative nature, strategic vision, and motivational capability. Make a list of these criteria so you can systematically identify and train HiPos for leadership positions.

How can your organization effectively uncover your high potential employees? Here are three tips to engage, identify, and develop your high-potential employees:

1. Distinguish potential vs. performance.

Many companies make the mistake of confusing high performance for high potential. Both are important and nice to have, but high performance is often more noticeable. As a result, signs of high performance often overshadow high potential indicators. Make an effort to distinguish between performance and potential, and recognize that the two serve different roles in your company.

2. Set clear guidelines.

Classify what guidelines make a high potential employee so that you can identify these traits in your team members. Signs of high performance may include a pleasant personality, strategic vision, and motivational capability. Make a list of criteria for identifying HiPos so that you and your employees have clear guidelines.

3. Mentor for growth.

Some companies only get as far as identifying their high-potential employees. However, identification is only important because it serves the larger purpose of talent development. These employees have potential, but they still need guidance and mentorship to help them grow. Whether it's professional development or an executive mentor, it's important to help HiPos realize their full potential.

Following these tips can help your organization make the most of your high potential employees.