How to identify high-potential employees

high-potential employees are more precious to a company than ordinary employees. These extraordinary workers can raise the performance bar of other employees by simply staying more competitive and dedicated.

Adding a star member to a team will boost the performance of other members by 5-15% — according to research.

Many organizations find it difficult to identify star performers. It is easy to confuse great performance with high-potential. I am not saying that you should prefer high-potential employees over high performers, but it is important to differentiate between the two. Both are incredible in their own ways.

What do you want employees to have a high potential for?

Before you start identifying the talent in your workers, it is important for you to be clear-minded about what you are looking for.

I have seen many people describe high-potential employees as someone who can be promoted to a bigger rank. Or, someone who can become a leader. This can be true if you are looking for leadership skills in a worker or if you want to promote a worker.

Identifying the high-potential employees

How people manage their careers is a key trait to evaluate how serious they are and what is their attitude.

Another thing to notice is the emergence of leadership. How distinctive they are from their peers. Can they build strategic business relationships and influence others?

After you assess these key traits.Next, you should focus on assessing whether they are effective leaders or not? How are they managing their teams? Are they able to perform high performing players? A great way to notice the teamwork is by noticing constructive conflicts which occur during the meetings.

Many people misunderstand teamwork. If the team does not have any constructive conflicts that does not mean the team is united or they have harmony amongst them. On the contrary, it might indicate that the team members don’t trust each other, so they are afraid of calling out each other in the meeting. Again, I am talking about the constructive conflicts which improve teamwork and process.

What makes good team leaders great is not their ability to get work done from each team member. That’s the basic skill that any team leader musthave. There are three other things that any team should have to succeed.

  • Trust between every member
  • Constructive conflicts in meetings
  • Following the same vision

Key personality traits of a high-potential employee

There are numerous qualities that great employees have which set them apart from others. From being disciplined to showing resilience in hard times — a passionate worker shows a collaborative approach towards work. His/her enthusiasm and eagerness for learning can be felt from miles away. Always looking for growth, these workers have a winning mindset.

But what are the most sought-after traits of a high-potential employee? A study by Harvard Business Review found out that three traits set highly capable employees apart from others.

These include

  • Ability
  • Social Skills
  • Drive

Ability: These employees have the capability to take on leadership roles even at executive levels. They can think strategically and adapt to changes. Thinking for the long-term — these employees have an incredible vision and they follow it.

Disciplined and Social: People with high-potential can handle tough situations and work under pressure. When faced with adversity — these people don’t lose their ability to think logically. Also, they can manage others smartly.

Drive: What drives your employees to do what they do? You can measure this by doing a few tests. Or, even better, you can hire a talent assessment firm like ecap — a global advisory firm that helps companies discover the most valuable assets within their organization. Talent assessment is done in three separate areas including Emotional Intelligence, Value Structure and Behaviors.

If you want to do it yourself, look at their attitude, ambitions, their eagerness to learn and how willing they are to take extra work and job duties.


Wajazali is a passionate writer and blogger who has been writing about the latest developments in the field of technology for over 3 years. His articles are published on, which he administers as well. Wajazali is also involved with various other projects to help people learn how to manage their own online marketing campaigns.
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