When discussing high-performing employees, a distinction must be made between them and high-potential employees, says Kurt Ronn, founder of Atlanta-based HRWorks.
"The pool of high-potential and high-performing employees often overlaps and both are important to retain. The difference between high-potential and high-performance is subtle but real," he says. "A high-potential employee is one who has 'runway' or room to grow and contribute in a greater capacity. His or her performance might not be as high as the very top performer, but the potential is there and worth investing in for the company.
"The high-performing employee does not necessarily have the potential to grow and expand his or her role or responsibility; but his or her results are important. Many companies evaluate performance and potential. A high-performer who has high-potential is very desirable; conversely, a high-performer with lower potential for growth is still a very valued commodity, as performance is usually a measurement of results, whereas potential is a measurement of future contribution.
In the end, Ronn says, the difference may come down to a matter of time. "High-performers are the backbone of the current company," he says. "High-potentials are the future backbone of the company."
October 1, 2008
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