3 Ways to Identify High Potential Employees in Your Organization

Posted by Julie • July 21, 2016 (Last modified July 29, 2018) • 3 min read

Companies are always looking for ways to identify employees who have the potential to become skilled leaders within their organizations. These high potential individuals, or HiPos, play key roles within the organization as they both need and want an employer who is willing to invest in career progression and acknowledge their dedication. That investment provides an engaged and talented employee who can lead others to become just as successful. Of course, there is always a risk in any good investment and in this case, placing resources into the development of the wrong individual could mean the loss of both the employee and all the skills you’ve helped build.


Because there is so much at stake, identifying HiPos shouldn’t be taken lightly. These 3 signs, however, will reveal who to count on as the next great leader in your organization.


Soft Skills to Command and Understand

Highlighting all the certifications and educational background is important when it comes to the day to day tactics of employees, but for those who are looking to lead departments or projects, it’s pivotal they be equipped with necessary soft skills.

Ask these questions to ensure your employee has the soft skills of a HiPo:

  • Does he/she inspire his/her coworkers as well as uphold ethical standards and values?
  • When it’s crunch time, can he/she keep it together and resolve issues?
  • If there is a complicated problem, what approach to communication does he/she take? Is it the most effective?
  • When he/she receives criticism, is the reaction professional? Does he/she make improvements?
  • Can he/she collaborate with teammates, customers and clients for effective change and innovation?


Learn more about managers vs. leaders when it comes to performance management software.


Expertise and Industry Knowledge

For a high potential employee to be successful they must have the technical knowledge of their subject matter or industry. If they don’t, there should be an effort to actively pursue its obtainment. This knowledge includes the inner workings of your unique business model, something only an internal hire can truly grasp. Not every leader will know everything, but in order to make strategic and intelligent decisions, that expertise will be necessary.

Ask these questions to assess an employee’s expertise and industry knowledge:

  • Does he/she understand and uphold our business’ mission and model?
  • Does he/she approach projects with an analytical and strategic approach?
  • If asked about his/her solutions, can he/she provide solid reasoning?
  • Has he/she studied and obtained the skills/certificates needed to make knowledgeable decisions?
  • Does he/she develop and present innovative ways to improve your business practices?


Find out how building a learning organization affects performance.


Proven Results (Data-backed or Not)


Of course, having the data to prove performance is preferred, but not always possible. Work to focus on the results, whether they be percentage or deliverable based. A HiPo will have the ability to show their effect on the business’ bottom line, but most importantly, management will see and feel it as well.

Ask these questions to ensure your HiPo has proven results:

  • Does he/she meet his/her department’s KPIs regularly?
  • Does he/she hit deadlines?
  • When given a task, do you trust he/she to complete it accurately and effectively?
  • Has he/she completed a project with above average results?



Your business is unique and constantly evolving to suit the industry, client and community. The employees you hire and develop will play key roles in that change. The best way to always be considering, maintaining and developing your high potential employees is by creating a solid performance management strategy. If you’re interested in building up high and improving on low performing employees, give us a shout. Trakstar might just be the step your organization needs for an award winning team!


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