20 Characteristics of High-Potential Employees

by Justin Reynolds on Mar 1, 2017 8:00:00 AM

How do you know you've got a high potential employee?

Even if your team is made up solely of supremely talented individuals, there are always a few employees who stand out from the rest of the pack. According to the Harvard Business Review, these high-potential employees account for an average of 5% of any company’s workforce.

High-potential employees (HIPOs) excel in their current roles. But they also possess the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in managerial positions and senior roles too.

How can a manager go about identifying which of their workers have the most potential? Here are 20 characteristics that define most HIPOs:

 

01. They’re good at what they do

This ones obvious. High-potential employees are extremely talented and produce consistently great work. When you have a special project on the horizon, you probably look toward your HIPOs to see whether they have the bandwidth to get it done because you know they’ll do it right. These are the employees that will lead your organization in the future. 

 

02. They jump on leadership opportunities

Whenever group projects materialize or you simply can’t manage a certain initiative on your own, your high-potential employees will be quick to volunteer to assume leadership roles. They possess innate leadership skills and are always looking to put them into practice and develop them further.

 

03. They work well autonomously

You don’t have to worry about asking your HIPOs how much progress they’re making on a certain project or initiative. They get things done every time. These workers are completely reliable. You can trust them to do their jobs well without having to check in.

 

04. They take initiative

The most talented employees don’t wait around for you to tell them what to do. They are constantly brainstorming new ideas and are eager to take on more work. Whenever a spontaneous project pops up, they’re usually the first to volunteer to take care of it.

 

05. They are interested in where the company’s going

Many workers get a job to get money to pay the bills. They do what’s required of them so they can continue collecting paychecks. HIPOs, on the other hand, are much more invested in the success of the companies they work for. They care about the company’s future.

 

06. They don’t buckle under pressure

These are the team members that are ready for whatever comes their way. When things get heated at work, they don’t lose their composure. They remain calm, cool, and collected — even when the going gets tough. Many even thrive in high-pressure situations.

Source: GIPHY

 

07. They ask questions

Because they are interested in their company’s future, your future stars ask a lot of questions. Even if they aren’t in managerial positions just yet, they want to make sure that the right decisions are made every time.

 

08. They continually develop new skills

While some employees might just go through the motions, HIPOs are always interested in learning new things. They strive to become better workers, and they make moves to improve on a daily basis. These folks read up on industry news and continue sharpening their skills so they can become even more effective.

 

09. They help their coworkers when they can

High-potential employees understand that the success of their organization depends on the efforts of everyone who works there. When their coworkers are overwhelmed, they offer to take some work off their plates to help lighten their loads.

 

10. They don’t bring negativity to work

It’s easy to lose your temper at work, particularly when you’re overwhelmed. High-potential employees understand the importance of maintaining their composure and helping create an enjoyable environment to work in. They may have their bad days like everyone else. But by and large, they are noticeably positive.

Source: GIPHY

 

11. They can accept not always being right

Even the smartest people in the world are wrong from time to time. Your rising stars know this, which is why they are willing to negotiate on their ideas — and in some cases abandon them altogether. When they realize someone has a better idea, they are willing to support it.

 

12. They take on responsibilities outside of their job description

HIPOs know that their jobs don’t have to be confined to what’s written in their job description. They are eager to take on additional responsibilities and often tackle tasks that they’re not directly responsible for.

 

13. They recognize their coworkers’ hard work

It’s easy to take someone else’s contributions for granted. Your most talented employees understand that their peers enjoy being recognized for their hard work too. They routinely thank their colleagues for their efforts and make sure great work never goes unnoticed.

 

14. They listen to feedback

Because the highest potential employees are always trying to do better, they love getting feedback — both the good and the bad. When their boss tells them they are doing something wrong or could be doing something better, not only do they listen to the advice, they consciously try to improve because of it.

 

15. They let their career goals be known

You won’t be left in the dark as to what your HIPOs’ aspirations are. They are very vocal about where they see themselves in the future and what career goals they hope to accomplish.

 

16. They have friends in the office

Because they are great workers who are supportive and almost always in jovial spirits, these employees tend to get along with everyone in the office swimmingly.

Source: GIPHY

 

17. They work well in group settings

Skilled team members can be counted on to do their work on their own. But the best future leaders are also great people to have involved in group projects. These workers understand the importance of collaboration and are critical components of any team effort.

 

18. They are trusted by their peers

Due to their hard work, congenial attitudes, and dedication to their jobs, HIPOs have earned the trust of their peers. Colleagues respect them and go to them when they need advice.

 

19. They possess a high level of emotional intelligence

It’s a lot easier to be an effective leader when you’re able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. To that end, look for employees who have high levels of emotional intelligence. They’re empathetic and understand where other people are coming from.

 

20. They live and breathe company culture

Your future leaders will be living embodiments of company culture. They reinforce that culture with everything they do, which encourages their peers to do the same. As a result, the office becomes a more enjoyable place to be — and, collectively, the team becomes more productive.

 

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This post was written by Justin Reynolds

Justin Reynolds is a freelance copywriter, journalist, and editor based in Connecticut.

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