How to Lose Your Up-and-Coming High-Performers to Competitors

by | Aug 2, 2023

In a post from the archive, John Sullivan reveals the most common mistake well-meaning managers make to drive their high-potential agents to competitors.When someone comes along who quickly performs at a high level, the tendency is to first marvel at such a thing and then hold that person up as an example.Surprisingly, this is exactly what gives your competitors a foothold.Why? Because when a person starts to figure out they’re high-potential, all types of strange behaviors ensue—both with the individual and with others on the team.Here is an abbreviated list of what can go wrong:Competitors notice. If you tell someone they are high-potential, it’s likely the news will spread both inside and outside the organization.They struggle with setbacks. There is increased frustration if early successes and perceived opportunities don’t materialize.They stop improving. If a person is aware of their status, they may not see the value in seeking out training, coaching, and mentors.They get a big ego. Encouraging someone lets them know they are valuable, but it may also create an ego boost resulting in a change of behavior (i.e., arrogance, sense of entitlement, etc.).Others get frustrated. When you identify someone as high-potential, others may react unfavorably, especially if the designation is viewed as biased, unfair, or made too early.Others start to sabotage. An agent could face subtle or direct attacks from individuals who feel that they don’t deserve the designation.What’s the alternative? Treat the high-potential agent like you expected this all along and others on the team expected them to be a high-performer, as well.Nothing unusual here—it’s what normally happens when talented newcomers work with us.


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