Leveraging High Potential Employees

Leveraging High Potential Employees

High potential employees are your best asset. Utilize their talent!

Most business owners think they are Picasso painting on canvas.  The truth is you are the canvas, and your employees are Picasso.  They are the ones who paint success or failure on the canvas.

The collective wisdom of a large group of people can accomplish some very interesting and diverse results. If you’re looking to solve a strategic problem or identify a certain opportunity, using the heads of ALL the talent you have in your organization together – rather than just a few people at the top – can give you some great outcomes.

Two heads are better than one

The collective intelligence of a large group of people is powerful. But it can’t be used unless there’s a system in place which gathers (and actually listens) to the input of its hundreds, or thousands, or maybe even tens of thousands of employees. As a business owner or CEO, you can gain a lot from leveraging your employees to help you make smarter and more informed business decisions.

Traditionally, companies fall into a hierarchy of power where only people at the top of the pyramid makes strategic decisions for the company. It’s more of a top-down approach than what should otherwise be a bottom-up one. Decisions are made at the highest management level that is then passed down to mid-level and lower-level employees. Conversely, in the bottom-up approach, information and feedback are sent up from the bottom – employees who actually interact with the customers and market – which is then used to make good and rational decisions.

Leveraging internal networks

The idea of using collective wisdom is a new one, and one which is being adopted quickly by modern business organizations. The fascinating concept allows them to leverage their employees’ keen perception and insight through internal networks using technology. Internal social networks, internal collaboration platforms, video conferencing, and more applications and services are being used to connect employees; giving access to each other at any time on any device for faster communication, as well as, giving them a place to pitch in their thoughts and ideas.

Give them the freedom to take initiative

When you build a company, one of the most important things you can do to ensure success is to hire the right people. People who are not only skilled and hard workers, but people who have talent and understand your company’s vision. Sure, as the entrepreneur, you may have the vision, but you alone can’t make it a reality.

Give your employees the liberty and resources to make independent decisions that can drive your company forward. Most often than not, employees play safe and don’t take risks because they’re afraid of repercussions from their leadership. Managers need to understand that to make big changes, taking big risks are necessary. They should work to encourage intelligent individuals to achieve the company’s vision.

Exceptional employees can be an asset to a company, but sometimes they are inhibited by managers who don’t know how to deal with them. Ron Ashkenes writes in the Harvard Business Review: “[Managers] often unintentionally dampen their star performance or cause them to find better opportunities elsewhere. I’ve seen many cases where, instead of leveraging top talent, the manager has quietly suggested that the employee “slow down” or “do more research” or “wait for the right time” or “keep those ideas to yourself for now.” I’ve even seen managers allow their teams to ostracize or marginalize the top performer so that other people won’t “feel bad.””

For many business owners & CEOs, this is difficult to conceive since they have already built a business and are now focused on growing it.  Your business goes through many stages and cycles. It is up to you whether you keep refreshing the canvas with a new picture or if the marketplace paints one for you.  One easy area to integrate your employees is in the strategic planning process.

How to leverage outside resources

Sometimes it is difficult for the owner or CEO to guide the company out of their comfort zone and into a culture of innovation, risk taking and ideation.  There is always the option to bring in an outside resource such as an interim executive or management consultant who specializes in this area of change. Many have a strong background in your industry and can be a major asset to help start painting the picture on the canvas.

Yes, you do need to slow down a little to accommodate the above and work on getting leveraging your company as a whole.  However, in the long wrong it will save you more time and resources from various spill over effects.  Think of how much time is lost in trying to communicate something you or your leadership team came up with right down to the very last employee. Then add on the hours of training, retraining, etc. Now consider if that communication came from the bottom up or elsewhere within the company.  The messaging, delivery, etc will now be championed from within the company making communication and adoption much easier.

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