Mark Miller | VP of Marketing, Emergenetics International

Mark Miller | VP of Marketing, Emergenetics International

How do companies stay competitive and gain a marketplace edge? For many, it’s about headhunting and looking to find the high potential star employees from rivals, other industries, or top educational institutions. Hiring the best is obviously impact-generating; however, hiring high potential employees is not easy and is wrought with pitfalls and challenges.

Certainly, demand for high potential employees has never been higher—companies are sitting on cash and any hiring is carefully calibrated to find the best and brightest. But, as in life, you get what you pay for. High potential employees cost a lot of money to hire and even more in terms of incentives, bonuses, and benefits to keep. What’s risky, though, is that every company is different—the large investment necessary to acquire a star doesn’t always equate to a cultural fit and because high performers are in demand, there’s a constant temptation to move on to different things.

As this article from Inc. Magazine states, customers who do business with you because of a star employee may very well follow that person to their new employer if they leave your organization. This is where strong corporate culture is critical—customers may develop loyalty to your star employee and not to your business if the culture isn’t highly evident.

Hiring hi-po workers creates big challenges for maintaining impact over the long term. From keeping high potential performers content to dealing with egos to encouraging them to work in teams or collaborate, it again points to the necessity to hire with incredible precision—no easy task. HR Perspectives touches on some of the behavioral risks that come with attracting star employees from outside the organization.

So if high potential employees are necessary to gain a competitive advantage, how can they be cultivated or acquired at a minimum of professional and behavioral risk?

The answer is actually right under your nose – don’t hire stars, develop them.

The strongest organizations with the best employees often promote from within—their best and brightest, who understand the culture and the vision, are nurtured and developed into high performers. Ramp-up time is less and these stars are likely to engage with your firm and repay your investment with loyalty. This strategy is predicated on finding and nurturing high-performing employees in every department and function.

You want to create, in essence, the all-star team.

This is not an easy proposition, as competitive pay, flexibility, employee training and development, and enlightened management are all necessary factors to create stars in your organization. However, there are key factors that go outside of these more typical foci, like focusing on each employee to look at what makes them tick.

It’s less about technical proficiency and more about the ways employees naturally tend to think and behave. By understanding intimate aspects of each individual, leadership can choose how to invest in and develop a star.