How to Recognize and Develop High-Potential Employees (HIPO) for Your Organization

Vartika Kashyap
5 min readJun 15, 2022

Employees who are highly potential are more valuable to an organization than those who are having low potential. These types of valued employees can up the ante for other employees as well.

But many businesses fail to successfully discover, develop as well as retain high-potential employees. Organizations often confuse high performance with high potential, whereas others do not solve the situation in an analytical trustable way and they always solely depend on the opinions and insights of managers to determine who fits best for future leadership.

But, in this article today you will find all the answers on how to recognize and develop the high potential employees for your organization.

How Businesses Can Recognize High Potential Employees

For the long-term success of your organization, you need to identify as well as develop high potential employees. But before recognizing high potential employees you need to understand the difference between high performance and high potential employees.

High-Performance Vs. High Potential Employees

As the ability levels of each employee vary so greatly, the managers who are working at the top level are aware of this fact. They must figure out which employees have the highest potential. Then, the next process for managers is to determine how much time, energy, and resources to spend on these individuals in comparison to cultivating others in order to create a rather more comprehensive, elevated working atmosphere.

It’s important not to mix up high-performing with high-potential employees. High performance is concerned with what employees are doing right now, whereas potential is concerned with measuring employees’ future capabilities. Managers can use tests or timed evaluations to assess their workers’ performance. If project work necessitates mathematical abilities, a genuine math knowledge test can help identify the best individual for the job.

The misunderstanding of high-performance vs. a high potential employee can also be seen in typical sales roles. Managers sometimes misinterpret a salesperson’s increasing numbers as a sign of his or her ability to become the Sales Director. Yet, when such salesmen are pushed outside of their respective comfort zones, they fail miserably. They recognize that their abilities are incompatible with teaching as well as mentoring. As a result, those high-performing salesmen who are appointed to Sales Director positions normally leave their jobs and this proves that they are not high potential employees.

Qualities and Behaviors That Can Help You to Identify Highly Potential Employees

Business leaders believe there are some key characteristics that distinguish high-potential employees. These include traits like perseverance and goal-setting, as well as a motivated and cooperative attitude.

Experts found 3 main hallmarks of highly potential employees in a Harvard Business Review study: ability, social skills, and motivation.


The ability to perform at an executive level in a leadership role necessitates creative thinking and the ability to adapt to an organization in the long run. Vision and inspiration, as well as an entrepreneurial spirit, are also required.

Social Skills

Employees who are highly potential must be capable of managing themselves so that if they have significant stress, they know how to handle the pressure, deal constructively with hardship, and engage with dignity and integrity.


This can be measured through standardized tests that evaluate professionalism, accomplishment, motivation, and ambition, but it can also be seen through behavior, such as how intensely an employee works, readiness to take on more tasks, and willingness for more responsibilities.

Tips to Develop Highly Potential Employees to Retain Them

Once you are able to identify highly potential employees, then you need to develop as well as retain them. So how do they best fit within the plans of your organization?

Succession Planning

Managers must try talking to their HIPOs regarding their interests and where they want to go in their careers. Consider how you may cultivate these high-potentials for succession planning as an organization. Is your business growing, or is a key executive leaving or retiring soon? If this is the case, there is an excellent chance to advance from within if there is a HIPO (High-Potential Employee) with the necessary experience.

Skill Assessment

Rather than filling jobs just because a high-potential employee appears to be a strong leader, be sure that their personality and talents are a suitable fit for the post. To lead a team in a management role, it is a must to have a deep awareness of several soft skills.

A soft skills evaluation can assist identify areas where the manager’s talents can have a significant impact on the team’s success. The evaluation also identifies the capabilities the HIPO possesses, allowing them to better understand how to impart such abilities to their team.

Allocate Additional Responsibilities

Another excellent method to put high-potential employees to the test is to give them additional tasks with more responsibilities. Examine how they do when given less guidance or while they manage a team. Put employees in cross-departmental stretch assignments, new territory cross-assignments, or new business realms. HIPOs are competitive individuals that like achieving their goals. You can expect them to produce excellent results if you push them.

Provide Coaching and Feedback

Highly potential employees are more likely to work harder and contribute more value to their organizations. Your first responsibility should be to retain HIPOs by ensuring that they are happy, satisfied, and successful. One of the most effective methods to do so is to teach your managers how to provide feedback and coaching.

Coaching as well as feedback help employees grow in a variety of ways, including building strengths, boosting resilience, trying new things, and asking for help.

Existing managers can utilize the content collection to hone their coaching abilities before assisting with the development of HIPOs.


It is a necessary part of a company’s talent technique to recognize and develop highly potential employees. These workers represent the leaders of tomorrow and innovators that businesses require to succeed in today’s dynamic as well as competitive market.

Also, you should keep in mind that if it is your prime objective to recognize high-potential individuals, then implementing retention tactics becomes also important to make your business accomplish new heights.

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Vartika Kashyap

Chief Marketing Officer@ProofHub. Featured writer on LinkedIn. Contributor at Elearning Industry, Dzone, Your Story and