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Rewarding specific behaviors that made a difference to your company is more challenging than rewarding performance. What behaviours do you reward and how do you measure them? Perhaps a new question would be, how can you also reward potential?

Since potential is the result of behavior, talent and performance how can you reward “High Performing” and “High Potential” (HiPo) employees?

Marcus Buckingham in his book “First Break All the Rules” speaks about working on your strengths. He cautions that you cannot ignore your weaknesses, however to become exceptional you should work/concentrate on your strengths.

Top performers work hard, go over and above, are respected and typically move “up the ranks” fast. They love to hire other A-players and build teams of exceptional people that love to win. They like to take on more responsibility over time and they love to learn new skills, read books and advance their education, qualifications and career.

In essence–HiPo’s like what they do, want to do more, always go the extra mile, and see a future for themselves in the organization. The risk… keeping them on track and engaged.

According to Corporate Executive Board (CEB), HiPo’s have three key characteristics in common: aspiration, ability, and engagement. Dan Pink in his book “Drive” talks about the three things a company needs to offer in order have a fully engaged employee….autonomy, mastery and purpose.


To reward HiPo’s in a fashion that would mean something to them, we need to understand what makes them tick. What are their core values that encourage aspiration, ability and engagement? If we know that then rewards would be better understood and created.

Most new employees don’t know what their purpose is yet. Some long term employees have not wrestled that one either. Mastery, simply put, is consistently getting better at what you need to do to become successful. But sometimes those skills are evasive and fall under the category of soft skills.

For a HiPo to succeed they need to understand themselves first and then see the direction or path to follow.

As an owner or HR Professional, establish a “talent path” that provides a variety of special opportunities, benefits and coaching for HiPo’s, but expect organization-defined commitments or responsibilities from HiPo’s in return. Of the three options, coaching brings the greatest return for the HiPo and the company.

That sounds like a win-win.

What is your organization doing to identify and retain HiPo’s?

Derek Millar is a seasoned business coach with Rhapsody Strategies. He is part of a powerful team of coaches and trainers dedicated to transforming leaders and organizations.

Providing clarity around inward and external mobility, allows people to achieve the freedom to enjoy life, have career growth and be fulfilled.

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