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Why am I the only one without Top Talent?

hr best practices hr interviews hr leadership hr management hr recruiting Apr 17, 2023

You’re not! We all have top talent on our teams, but sometimes they hide in roles where they aren’t successful. The key to top talent is looking beyond your high performers. A High Performer is someone who is doing a great job today. Top Talent is someone who can help you drive operations forward and make a long term leadership impact in your organization. They are there….you may just have to look hard to find them.

Consider undertaking a strategic evaluation of your entire team.  That means looking beyond the performance review and evaluating the full person.  In doing that, you have to consider current work performance, but then look at the other skills it takes to be successful. In our HR Hacks toolkit, we encourage you to look at your employees on 6 criteria that separate high performers from top talent.

Talent – Top performers certainly need to have the talent to do the job. Humans have lots of reasons for performing below expectations.  They can be aligned with the wrong manager, skill sets that don’t match the current role or simply board and “checked out”. The question is whether or not they have talent for the skills you need in the future.

Behavior – Dedication, empathy, service and ethics are very hard to teach. Look for the behaviors that align with your company culture, and encourage those employees to be leaders.

Potential – The Peter Principle is alive and well. All too often, leadership promotes someone doing a great job, who got to the next level and failed miserably. Look for those that show signs of the ability to succeed at higher level skills.

Performance – Day-to-day performance in the current role must be excellent. A promotion or added responsibility is a signal to other employees of expected behavior. Be sure others see that if they do a great job for you, they too can move ahead in your organization.

Engagement – The employee designated as top talent has to be fully invested in the outcomes you want in your business. You may have the best employee who meets all the other criteria, but comes to work does their job and leaves. You want someone interested and inspired by what your organization does.

Ambition – You can’t go anywhere unless the employee is ambitious and wants to get ahead. Many people are happy to be in a position that they do great, and don’t want additional responsibility. If this is the case, don’t push it!

Organizations should identify 2-3 % of their employee population as top talent. Think 20 years from now, who can you include in this group. Who do you see sitting at a leadership table and inspiring the next group of top talent?  Then focus your energy on growing and retaining this group.





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