The Great Resignation has got me reflecting on my career and the things I’ve learned hiring staff and leading teams made up of high potential talent.
People leave jobs for a range of reasons. I’m going to share my thoughts on one very specific trend I see happening in one slice of the job market. High potential talent is leaving jobs because they are not being managed correctly.
Identifying and growing high potential talent is critically important if you’re leading a high growth company. Ideally, the growth rate of your employees matches the growth rate of the organization so your employees advance in role and responsibility as the company advances.
As employees are voluntarily resigning from their jobs at record-breaking rates, it seems as though high potential talent is finding their greatest growth opportunities by jumping jobs.
But before we go there, let’s discuss how we find and hire high potential talent.
High potential talent will not be found in literal and direct connections on resumes. Identifying high-potential talent requires reading between the lines.
What moves has the candidate made and why? Many hiring managers see fast jumps between roles as a lack of career clarity and loyalty.
Fast jumps between roles could also reveal that the candidate maxed out learnings within a given role and wasn’t given a path to learn more and grow more.
Look past the resume. Does the candidate have a passion or a side-hustle she is pursuing on social media? You can find clues that will help you uncover high-potential talent.
When I was Chief Marketing Officer at Club Pilates, I hired a Marketing Manager who was previously a Marketing Coordinator at an engineering firm. She didn’t have experience working in marketing in the fitness industry and she didn’t have experience in franchising.
Reading between the lines of her resume, she was a Division 1 volleyball player who held records at her school and she was only about 5'2". The work ethic and discipline that’s needed around Division 1 athletics are intense.
I knew she would bring that same intensity into her work. It was 2018 when she started as a Marketing Manager and today, just four years later, she is Chief Marketing Officer of a Club Pilates sibling brand.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but let’s be clear: high potential talent likes to pursue their potential. It’s important for managers to realize this dynamic and give plenty of space and opportunity to learn new things and grow into bigger roles.
Within the Great Resignation trend, there is buzz as well as confusion around talent burnout. High potential talent doesn’t burn out because of too much work and responsibility. They burnout when the core of their job is mundane and below their potential or when the increase in workload doesn’t come with a new title.
You will lose your high potential talent if you expect them to sit in the same seat for over a year without a growth plan. My Director of Marketing at KickHouse told me in the interview process that she wants to grow and wants feedback to grow faster.
We have worked together to collaboratively define the skill gaps that need to be filled as she’s stepping into a Vice President of Marketing role. Then, as a leader, I step out of the way. If you have high-potential talent, they will race toward milestones and will let you know when they are being tripped up or slowed down.
Growing your high potential talent can’t be attached to an annual review. High potential talent will want growth based on their pace and achievements instead of the pace of an annual review process.
High potential applicants are the opposite of “lifers” who stay in an organization for their entire career. You must go into a working relationship with high potential talent knowing that there will be a break-up whenever the growth opportunities fade or stall.
The growth plan mentioned above may start to include entrepreneurial side hustles and may even specifically address the team member’s exit from the organization. While that might be taboo in HR terms, it’s necessary in terms of leadership and mentorship.
To be a good leader of high potential talent, you have to prepare them to level up into a bigger role with your organization, but you also have to admit when the best step for them professionally may be in a different organization.
The solution to retaining high potential talent isn’t snacks in the break room or even the ability to work from home. It’s creating a roadmap to help your talent get from where they are today to where they want to be in the future. Empty promises don’t fly. Annual timelines don’t fly either.
Do better as leaders and you won’t lose great talent in the Great Resignation.