High performer vs high potential? Picking the right hire

When hiring, employers often face a tough choice: Should they go for high performers who demand a higher salary or opt for high potentials at a lower cost? It’s like choosing between instant gratification and long-term growth. In this article, we’ll dive into this dilemma, discussing the strengths and limitations of high performers and high potentials. We’ll also provide practical leadership advice to help you make the right decision.

High performers: The masters of now

High performers serve as the rock stars of the workplace. They consistently deliver exceptional results and boast a stellar track record. These folks bring top-notch skills, valuable experience, and a drive to greatness. They may hold high compensation desires, but when you need something done quickly and flawlessly, high performers are your go-to team members.

Imagine a software engineer with years of experience who has always produced outstanding code and innovative solutions. They’re the superheroes of their field, tackling complex problems with ease. Their expertise and efficiency make them an asset to any organization.

But here’s the catch: High performers often reach their peak productivity early on and need help to improve significantly beyond that point. They may resist change, have difficulty learning new skills or struggle to adapt to evolving technologies. While they’re great at their work, their growth potential may be limited.

High potentials: Unleashing the future

On the flip side, high potentials are like diamonds in the rough. They may lack extensive experience but possess an insatiable hunger for growth and a boatload of untapped potential. These eager learners can quickly adapt to new challenges and acquire new skills.

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Picture a recent marketing graduate bursting with creativity, critical thinking and a strong work ethic. They may need more practical experience but have the raw talent and drive to become a marketing guru. With the right guidance and development opportunities, they could be the driving force behind innovative campaigns and organizational growth.

One significant advantage of high potentials is their ability to thrive in dynamic environments. They bring fresh perspectives and a thirst for knowledge, making them ideal candidates for leadership development programs. By investing in their growth, you can cultivate the leaders of tomorrow.

Striking the right balance

So how do you make the call between high performers and high potentials? It’s all about finding the right balance that suits your organization’s needs and long-term goals. Here are some down-to-earth tips to help you navigate this decision:

1. Assess your needs. Evaluate the immediate requirements of each role. Identify the values, skills, and experience that are essential. This will help you determine whether a high performer or a high potential is the best fit.

2. Context matters. Consider your existing talent pool. If critical roles lack high performers, it may be necessary to prioritize them. However, investing in high potentials can fuel long-term growth and succession planning if you have a solid leadership pipeline.

3. Embrace diversity. Aim for a diverse workforce with high performers and high potentials. High performers bring stability and expertise, while high potentials inject fresh ideas and energy. This mix can create a vibrant and forward-thinking team.

4. Nurture growth. Provide development opportunities to high potentials. Mentorship programs, training initiatives, and challenging assignments can accelerate their growth and ensure they reach their full potential.

5. Foster a learning culture. Encourage continuous learning for all employees, especially high performers who are often taken for granted. Emphasize the importance of acquiring new skills and staying current in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

So, back to basics. When hiring, you have a choice: high performers or high potentials. Striking the right balance between the two is a leadership skill; you need to understand the difference. You’ll make informed decisions and build a sustainable and diverse culture by assessing your needs, considering the context, and providing growth opportunities.