How To Find (Or Become) A High Potential Employee
Joanna Track is a mentor, media personality, marketing strategist, and serial entrepreneur. She founded eLUXE.ca and sweetspot.ca, and is now on her third venture, boutique consultancy firm Good Eggs & Co.
By Joanna Track
My business partner and I named our company Good Eggs & Co because we believe the single most important ingredient to a business’ success is its people.
So, if you’re looking for an egg recipe, I’m afraid you’ve landed on the wrong article. The art of cooking has never been my strong suit, but years of entrepreneurial endeavours and managing people have taught me a thing or two about what it takes to develop (and/or become) a high potential employee—or, as I like to call them, a good egg.
It takes great people to make great things happen. So how does one go from being mediocre to great? And what would someone look for to find these star employees, and subsequently foster them?
There are many ingredients, but I’ve narrowed it down to the two that I consider most important: time and passion.
Put in your time
As Malcolm Gladwell has famously postured, it takes 10,000 hours to truly master a skill. I haven’t done the math, but I do agree that one must invest the time to hone any skill. I may be stereotyping, but the up-and-coming generation (Millennials, as some would say) is often in a rush to get to that next step, role, or opportunity. It’s only with time that we learn the intricacies of anything—be it relationships, a skill, or an industry.
Recruiting and fostering employees is also a skill, and those of us in the hiring seat get better at it the more we do it. Many shy away from recruitment because it’s time consuming and/or they don’t want to be the one responsible for a bad decision. But learning about people and how to get the most out of them can only be done in real time. There’s no textbook or website that will give you the tools.
That said, there are tips and tricks that can lead to a more successful selection process. Human Resource Consultant, Sari Friedman, has a few insights:
“One of the first ways to tell if someone’s a ‘good egg’ is paying attention to how they’ve represented themselves in their cover e-mail, their resume, their LinkedIn profile—if they can’t reflect their own career brand well, then you can’t count on them to represent your company’s brand well.”
When candidates reach the interview stage, take the opportunity to dig deeper on topics such as their past work experience. “One question I ask is for them to tell me about something they’ve done in their career that they’re proud of,” Sari continues, “A ‘good egg’ will give an example that is worth being proud of, and it is usually a response that includes working well with others, innovative thinking, and being results focused.”
The Passion Principle
Just like a sense of humour or fashion taste, even those with all the money in the world can’t buy passion—and neither can you. Whether you are seeking out your next career move, or you are trying to build an A-Team in your company, focusing on dollar signs will get you nowhere fast. An employee who is in it only (or mainly) for the paycheck will never become your star player. And if you go to work everyday only for the money, it’s going to be a long and painful road to travel.
No matter what you do, there needs to be an element of passion. You will not love every day, but overall there needs to be pride, interest, and excitement in outcomes.
This can show itself early in an interview process. Does a person know (and love) your brand? What do they do in their spare time? Ask them, “What are you passionate about?” It will speak volumes about their character.
Zoe Mandel, of recruitment firm Propeller Consulting, adds,
“The first thing I look for in candidates is passion. You always want someone that loves what they do or the potential of what they will be doing. If they do nothing but work, they are probably generally not a passionate person. If they haven’t taken time to learn about your brand and your industry, they are not likely to be passionate about the role you are filling.”
When looking to hire a new person, clients often ask me, ‘How will we know they are the one?’ (If I could come up with a guarantee, I’d be some kind of prophet). At the end of the day, all the questioning in the world can’t determine if someone is the right fit. It’s only when they are on the job that you’ll truly see what they are all about.
Remember, this is also a two way street. You must make sure you’ve set up an environment for success, giving your employees the tools they need to reach their objectives. It will be an ultimate win for your business—or, as I like to call it, a recipe for a good egg.
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