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Creating Tomorrow’s Leaders by Recognizing and Retaining Top Talent

hr best practices hr department hr leadership Aug 22, 2022

Many mistakenly believe that recognizing top talent in an organization involves looking only for the best behavior and performance. And while those are indeed important characteristics of top talent, there’s so much more to consider. In fact, I believe there are six competencies to focus on when evaluating top talent. 

Top talent goes beyond expectations. Your most talented employees won’t simply do what’s asked of them. They’ll go above and beyond their job description. They exceed targets and quotas, resolve challenges quickly and effectively, and they work collaboratively within their teams. Good enough isn’t enough - they want to excel. But this is just the beginning.

6 Competencies You’ll Recognize in Your Top Talent


Ambitious employees won’t be satisfied with simply doing their job, they really want to get to the next level. They will seek out opportunities for growth and development rather than be satisfied with the status quo.


Top talent will exhibit behavior that aligns with the needs and priorities of the organization. They’ll work cooperatively with the team to achieve the shared goals and reach organizational success.


Engaged employees don’t just show up and have fun, they understand the culture, values, and mission of the organization and then contribute supportively.


Your top talent will go the extra mile in all they do in an effort to push themselves, the team, and the organization forward. Performance alone without possessing the other competencies, however, isn’t enough.


An employee must have the potential to grow in order to be a top talent. All the desire in the world means nothing if the potential isn’t there. They don’t just need to want to get to the next level, they have to be able to.


Talent goes hand in hand with potential and ambition because it speaks to the employee’s ability to move forward. Talented employees are good at what they do, but they must also have the drive to improve.

HR professionals can cultivate top talent by defining competency at multiple levels so employees can understand how to grow. For example, if one of the important traits of your employees is teamwork, you can define what teamwork looks like at each stage from junior employees to senior-level. In doing so, not only will management easily see which employees are a top talent, but HR can help guide employees to the skills and mindset they’ll need to move ahead and become leaders in their own right.

Large organizations should seek to identify 2-3 percent of their workforce as a top talent, whereas smaller ones may only be looking for two to three individuals. Once they’ve been identified, the organization can then invest in them and align with them for the future. Recognition and cultivation are instrumental in retaining top talent.

Planning for the successful future or any organization would not be complete without examining the workforce. By recognizing, cultivating, and retaining top talent, you can help define leadership for the years to come.


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