Five Traits of High-Potential Employees

By: Eric J. Frankel

As the parent of 10th-grade twins, their differing levels of motivation toward academics are both fascinating and unnerving. While one says “no thanks” to schoolwork, the other thinks “never enough.” An array of factors makes them perform in the way they do or do not: environment, confidence, maturity, interest level and vision.

No matter the managerial oversight (mom and dad), the training and learning (teachers) or the incentives (grades, college), they respond to academics at their own pace, in their own style and based upon their own internal stimulus.

The academic world is reminiscent of the unique emotions each individual carries toward specific subject matter and learning situations. While many have the ability to perform at an “A level,” talent managers must find that unique combination of environment, industry and team that optimizes motivation and potential.

Do your key employees carry a “never enough” attitude, an unrelenting desire to move forward, and recognize progress as the only option, regardless of what recent business and personal situations dictate?

Talent managers need to ensure that leaders and high-potential employees:

1. Accentuate the exceptional.

Employees’ best traits are magnified and spread exponentially when they are at the top of their game. In sports, the player with smarts and leadership skills vastly raises overall team performance. The “never enough” mentality delivers focus and charisma to generate immense functional and organizational buzz and goodwill.

2. Embrace their environment.

Certain situations don’t captivate us. For instance, I left a large multinational company more than two decades ago because even though partners were seeking my involvement in sales and marketing, I had no interest. Six years later, I started my own business and embraced sales and marketing. At my previous employer, the timing, the industry and the people were wrong; as an entrepreneur, my creative passions and latent sales and marketing skills awoke.

3. Share knowledge.

The “never enough” crowd not only gets it (combined intellect as well as business and interpersonal savvy), but they also share it by investing time and energy to drive the performance of peers, subordinates and the entire organization. “Top-echelon employees don’t just focus on narrow self-interest; they understand personal progress means a genuine desire to collaborate with others and promote the shared success of the organization, ” according to Carol Bellini of Transforming Strengths LLC.

4. Possess vision where others don’t.

To individuals with the “never enough” mentality, clarity results from hard work; listening intently to internal and external colleagues or thought leaders; and relying on finely tuned instincts.

5. Forge ahead with attitude.

To individuals who say “never enough,” adversity is only a temporary obstacle; recession translates to innovation; problem means opportunity; and competition is recast as differentiation.

About the Author:

Eric Frankel is the creator of 10 Minutes to Change, a program that offers HR departments strategies for maximizing the effectiveness for all human capital initiatives.

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