Is Your Sink or Swim Mentality Drowning Your HiPos?

High Potential Employees (HiPos) are the rising stars of your organization. They are the individuals that you hope will carry your business forward to new heights while staying with your company for years to come. They are engaged, ambitious, and competent.

So what happens when a HiPo leaves? More importantly, what happens if you notice a trend of these highly valued individuals leaving? It might be time to reevaluate what you’re giving these people in return.


Sink or Swim? You Might be All Wet.

When you hire someone who could potentially change the face of your business in a positive light, the last thing you want to do is approach their immersion into your culture with a sink or swim mentality. Doing so may result in your esteemed employees leaving you high and dry.

Take a moment to evaluate your onboarding process. Do you provide in-depth training about your operation procedures? And what about after? Many businesses consider their onboarding work to be done when a new employee has a grasp on what is required of them. However, it is important to follow up regularly and provide opportunities for growth and education.

By not offering coaching and additional training, you are creating a culture of competition between a team and their manager. For example, a HiPo salesperson may aspire to move up within their first two years at a company. Without proper communication, their superior may see this as an attempt to take their management position, creating a competitive culture that can deter employees from extending their tenure.


The Generational Effect

Age differences in the workplace have an impact on your organizational culture and the effectiveness of your team. Whereas Generation X tends to be centered around the job, and their role in the workplace, Millennials gravitate toward a more collaborative, inclusive approach. Generation X is at the stage of their career where they want to focus on getting the job done while Millennials have a desire to be engaged by leadership.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. That being said, the trend toward these two different mindsets in the workplace can create a rift between workers. Generation X may feel that the Millennials are unproductive, while the Millennials feel Generation X doesn’t support their growth. In short, your Millennial employees may be on one island, while your Generation X employees are on another.

To bridge the channel, leadership needs to use coaching tools to instill a sense of integrity and trust. By coaching both parties to improve communication, you will help build a foundation which ensures more mentorship from senior staff and productivity from junior staff.


What Does Losing a HiPo Cost You?

In monetary terms, the cost of losing an HiPo is aligned with the loss of any employee. Time spent recruiting, interviewing, and training can cost a company a significant chunk of change. Some statistics show that it can be upward of 1.5 to 2 times the individual's annual salary to replace them after they go. However, monetary cost isn’t the only thing to consider.

When an HiPo leaves, your productivity will decrease for a significant amount of time. Their work may be given to someone who already has a full plate or is unused to their particular tasks. This will cause delays in the HiPo’s work as well as the daily tasks of the person covering. When someone new is brought onboard, it will take time for them to reach the same productivity level as their predecessor.

What about your culture? If someone your other employees look up to leaves, it may have them questioning if your business is right for them, especially if the HiPo made their concerns clear and well-known beforehand. The departure of a HiPo can throw a team off-kilter, and create discord in the workplace.


How to Keep HiPos

Throw them a life preserver. Listen to their concerns. Ask them what their goals are within the company, what they value, and what motivates them. Then, provide coaching training to help them achieve their goal.

Focus on keeping your HiPos engaged in the company as they work toward meeting their goals. Keep open lines of communication amongst managers and subordinates to ensure everyone is on the same page, and no one feels disgruntled or threatened.

If a HiPo does decide to leave, have a candid discussion to find out why. Sometimes an opportunity arises that is too good to be ignored. Other times, it’s because you left them up the creek without a paddle. If that’s the case, it is up to you to ensure it doesn’t happen again with a future HiPo.

Meredith Wailes is the President of Bloom Leadership, a cutting-edge platform for business growth with a focus on Whole Person Development. Meredith works with both men and women to break communication barriers and coach her clients to success, both at an executive and ground-floor level.  For more information visit Meredith on LinkedIn and Twitter.