Development of High Potential & High Performing Employees

As a leadership and organizational development consultant and coach I browse job ads for research. It’s a simple way to discover current trends in the job market. For example, over the past several years companies increasingly claim to offer great career advancement opportunities. Sure enough, the Gallup organization published How Millennials Want to Work that speaks (exclusive of salary) to opportunities to progress, be leaders, and professional development training programs being top priorities.

As a business owner, providing growth and development opportunities for your employees, is important, especially now during COVID 19. Not only is it a relevant trend, but the “opportunity to gain new skills and experiences can also increase employee motivation and job satisfaction and help workers more effectively manage job stress.” (American Psychological Association (APA)


What Does it Mean?

Growth, development, and career advancement may sound like trendy buzz-words but they can have a true impact on retention. However, there is only one way to effectively implement an approach to employee development. To start, define what growth, development, and career advancement mean in your organization. Do your high performers consider promotion and pay increases adequate definitions or are traditional training and skills development enough? Get a sense of what they want and expect by having discussions with them.


Addressing Growth, Development, Career Advancement

Providing promotions and pay increases is not a realistic or sustainable way to address the issue. Most businesses have an organizational hierarchy that narrows at the top and have limited resources for elaborate programs. If you find yourself in this situation, the best action is to explore the development needs, stay flexible, and learn as you go.

Here are a few tips:

Subsidize Education 

Hopefully, your high potential and high performers have communicated their future goals to you. It’s likely that education and training are part of the solution. Let them choose a program that works best for them and they’ll want to stick around because the company is invested in their success. If subsidizing education is out of your reach, consider buying books or sponsoring trips to local conferences. All are great ways to drive their growth and development



This is a practice that I touched on in previous blogs . Mentorship is a great way to connect high performers with senior leadership and management and to connect entry-level employees to high potential employees. Doing so increases the sense of community throughout the organization and increases communication and knowledge transfer. 


Job Rotation/Skill Growth 

Job rotation and lateral moves are a great way to drive growth and development. This is particularly helpful for individuals in highly specialized roles with low work variation. A lateral move simultaneously allows them to get a breath of fresh air, doing something new to expand their skill set.

If a lateral move doesn’t make sense, focus on improving the high performer’s skill set within their current position. Identify an area of their work to improve, like strategic thinking and address it. You’ll reinvigorate their work by helping and encouraging them to approach it in a different way.  


Explore their Passion/Creativity 

The options are endless. If the high potential employee has trouble identifying a passion, no problem.  Ask them to overhaul a process or system they’ve complained about in the past. They might be fired up enough to figure out a fix. This is a win-win. It not only provides a unique experience but also lets them develop new skills. Additionally, the business is left with a better process.


Just do it!

Growth, development, and career advancement entails something different for all your employees. Even with organizational and budgetary constraints, you can successfully drive your high performer’s growth and development. All it takes is commitment and creativity.


If you’d like help discovering the growth and development opportunities your employees value and how best to address them, contact me.