Hunter Gilliam

The Difference Between High Performers vs. High Potentials

“Whether or not our team members are high potential or they’re high performing, we need to focus on them both. We can’t take the high performing team members for granted. And we can’t put all of our energy and focus on our high potentials.”

Panelists: Chris Powell, Head of Research at DiversityInc; Hunter Gilliam, Senior Vice President of Talent Planning for Wells Fargo

Introduction

High performers and high potentials in a company are equally important and leadership should focus on them both. High performing team members help make day-to-day operations run smoothly, while high potentials drive innovation.

In this webinar, Hunter Gilliam, Senior Vice President of Talent Planning for Wells Fargo discusses the difference between high performers and high potentials and how best to spot and utilize them within an organization.

Whether or not our team members are high potential or they’re high performing, we need to focus on them both. We can’t take the high performing team members for granted. And we can’t put all of our energy and focus on our high potentials,” Hunter Gilliam said. 

Key Takeaways

  • Both high performers and high potentials are equally important
  • High performers are not necessarily high potentials
  • Most high potentials are high performing
  • About 5% to 7% of employees in a company will be high potential
  • Be aware of unconscious bias when deciding who is a high performer and who is high potential

 Difference Between High Performers and High Potentials

At Wells Fargo, they pick out high performers using several criteria. They look at whether they, as individuals, are backward-looking and really focused on evidence and past predicts future.

“They’re typically focused on more of a short-term success. They’re good in the same role that they’re in now. They have opportunity to grow again. It’s not that the high performers are stagnant, it means that they’re there, can perform really well, strong performers, and can move up a level potentially,” Gilliam said.

High performers and high potentials are both focused on what they do and how they do it in their current role, which is critical because “whether you’re a high potential or high performer, to be a really strong, valuable member of the community you have to focus on what you do and how you do it,” Gilliam said.

How To Spot A High Potential Team Member 

93% of high potential team members are high performing. When you think about that, you think high potential people also are delivering but they’re going above and beyond,” Gilliam said. “They can do more. They want to do more. The onus, the responsibility falls on us as leaders to uncover who they are, what we can do to help and support them, and how do we measure their success and reward them for what they’ve done or accomplished?”

High potentials are forward-looking, innovative and able to predict what is coming down the road. Working with high potentials, it is clear that they can move up a role – but it is up to company leaders to see that potential within employees.

“We’re really looking at this as a long-term success. It’s not about the current role. It’s about the two or three levels beyond that,” Gilliam said. “Are they excited to be challenged? Are they excited to do something new? And if they are, then that’s how they’re showing up as high potential.”

The Impact of High Potential Team Members

“High potentials are really the individuals that are going to be two levels above their current role. And that is seen,” Gilliam said. “They could go higher. They could be direct reports at the C-suite. That’s really what we see in these people. We see the drive. We see the ambition. We see the change advocacy.”

High potentials are able to make change, continue to learn and innovate, and they significantly out-perform their peers – losing a high potential is a major blow to any company because high potentials are the people taking a company into the future.

But another important aspect of spotting and assessing the impact of a high potential is to be aware of unconscious bias and mitigate that.

“At Wells Fargo, we are really working hard to focus on the inclusion of all team members based on multiple levels of diversity. And how do we help others feel included, valued, supported, part of the team, that what they do makes a difference? We have to make sure that we do that as managers for our high potentials,” Gilliam said. “And we also have to do that as team members to reach across to someone who maybe is not feeling the most inspired on that day and offer to lend a hand. Because again, high potentials are leaders to other people, no matter what their role dictates.”

To hear the full conversation with even more takeaways, listen here. For more on Allies, career advancement and advice, visit DiversityInc.com andDiversityIncBestPractices.com,  follow us on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, and check out more webinars like this.)

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