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How To Spot The Top Talent And Nurture Them

How to spot the top talent and nurture it
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How To Spot The Top Talent And Nurture Them

Talent strategy, process and its implementation has become a competitive advantage for the organisations today; as it not only helps to attract the right employees, but also develop and retain the top talent within.

While it is necessary to focus on overall development of all employees, there are a few employees who not only perform consistently; they also demonstrate potential of moving up the ladder through their thoughts, ideas and actions.

These top performers or top talent or high potential employees demonstrate certain unique characteristics. Some of them include high levels of initiative, appetite for challenges, resilience, adaptability and collaboration. Your top talent is a distinct combination of competence along with the promise of a future leader.

Here are some interesting findings about the value of top talents across the globe:

• Top performers produce as much as 10 times more than the average worker, while they often require less than two times the pay (Sullivan, 2012)

• “Superstars” produce up to 12 times more than the average employee (Corporate Executive Board)

• The top performer differential is 2.5 to 10 times that of an average employee (Sullivan, 2008)

Applying the 80:20 Pareto principle here is crucial; the more time and attention you invest in your top 20% of employees, more is the probability of their contribution to almost 80% of your overall productivity. And for that, identifying the bright sparks is the key to the approach for developing them.

What separates top performers from others?

•  The ability to step up proactively and follow through to successful outcomes. This happens especially as most high performers have a larger goal to reach which drives them to scale up. Alignment of their role and their own goal gets them to stay engaged within.

•  The ability and skillset to handle and manage complexity of the work place. Thus, even in a demanding scenario these people will struggle and hustle in order to keep creating and increasing the value of the organisation.

•  They are never afraid to ask for help- These golden hens know when to involve others and graciously accept the help and support when it is provided.

•  These personalities are easy to follow, listen to, or be inspired by. They are easily loved by people because they have empathy.

•  They have the ability to view a situation from multiple angles, making them effective problem solvers. They don’t think outside the box, they may simply remove the box.

Only achieving 100% results is not really a high potential employee; along-with consistent achievement of100% results, a uniquely talented employee persistently focuses on improving his/her productivity and skills to move to the next orbit. This orbit could be a new position, role, function or just bigger and better challenges.

How does it benefit you?

A leader and therefore the organisation benefits from having a strong talent development focus in multiple ways. The plan itself becomes an employer value proposition to attract candidates/people who seek a similar engaged environment; this naturally results in hiring right for every role.

Development plans that are customised helps the organisation ring-fence its top talent and therefore curb in-voluntary attrition. By enriching and enlarging their roles, an organisation builds a strong cross functional skill-set through high- potential employees.

How do I develop them?

1. Refine focus

One of the first things is to treat them differently from the rest. Does that mean you discriminate? No. It means you give them extra attention for the extra that they put in.
While maintaining work norms equally, create a map for the special few who as we already said contribute to 80% of your productivity. They are the ones you want to focus on as this is also where you will find your leaders for tomorrow.

Some organisations call their talent development programs as Business Leadership Program or simply Leadership Development Program. Having them “enrolled” into these programs, is not only attractive as a special advantage offered, it also communicates your intent as a leader towards their progress.

2. Coaching

Understand what motivates them. When you know what motivates, inspires people, it is easier to zero-in to the development plans. Here, it is also worth considering that a training program is not essentially a development plan. For your top talent, create a basket of inputs that include training, coaching, job rotations, et, al.

Coaching helps the employee to re-visit his/her goals, streamline them with the organisation’s requirement and create solutions for moving ahead. It also helps in identifying road-blocks and minimising risks of dis-engagement.

However, it is important to note that coaching is specific as a process; which means that you must know what you want the high performing employee to deliver in future. It is a distinct movement from Point A to Point B, where both are pre-defined and aligned to the overall objectives.

3. Action Learning

Action learning is a process that involves problem solving of real-time issues through action (inputs) and reflection (learning).

The best way to develop and engage high performers is to get them involved in live projects. Create a group of similar employees to work on process improvement of a function or to construct something new that adds in value for the business as well. For example- Create a project group of high performing and high potential employees in Sales to work on creating a higher demand for your product/services.

The key here is to have them working on an important issue faced by all; high performers have more appetite for challenges; hence, they tend to stay focused when they know they are enabling better business results through effective and efficient actions.

4. Empowerment

Empowerment is when you allow the employees to take decisions and make mistakes, as long as they learn from them. While you need to exercise discretion in the type of decisions they are empowered to make, it will help you in a big way to build leadership from within. Ask them for their feedback on critical processes in the organisation and alternatives to improve upon them; get them to understand competitor plans and design strategies for business development; and yes, let them lead a certain account or a project. Be available to them for inputs, feedback, however, let them take charge.

Development planning for top talent, when done well, has a substantial benefit attached. Your time and commitment are very important in designing and implementing a sound talent strategy that is sustainable.


Do you want to build a strong talent strategy for your organisation? Write into us on contact@yellowspark.in.

Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time