HIPOs: Overworked and Under-Challenged

 -  2/20/13

The need for organizations to grow and retain high-potential talent has never been greater, but if the company’s stars feel over- or underwhelmed, performance will lag.


Three Ways to Drive Away Rising Stars

Three common mistakes companies make that discourage high-potential employees.

The squeeze is still on for top talent as organizations grapple with change initiatives, downsizing, early retirements and leaner workforces. According to Tom Searcy, founder and CEO of sales strategy company Hunt Big Sales, it’s causing some effective high-potential employees to disengage.

Why do effective, smart employees sometimes fall off?
People can be over-challenged or under-challenged. Both of those things are dangerous. Over-challenged can be about things besides their job — they can be overburdened because of family issues, financial issues, health issues, organizational requirements, or they can be burdened because of the loss of another employee. Their area is understaffed, they’re given something they’re not skilled in doing or given poor directions.

They feel overburdened. Because of that, where they used to be great and doing a super job, all of a sudden, bang, we see mistakes. They never missed a meeting, appointment or forgot an assignment; all of a sudden those things start to happen. Part of it could be that there is too much going on.

The second thing is, you have good performers, they’re doing a good job, but they start to become under-challenged. What I find with under-challenged people is that they get as distracted by the lack of things that are going on and miss meetings, appointments and deadlines. Mistakes happen just as much because their minds turn off. The part of the brain that the job was challenging when they first took it on, and they were very good, it starts to say, “This is rote and boring and doesn’t appeal to me,” and their creative brain or detail-oriented brain shuts off.

Is it more common that the individual is overwhelmed or underwhelmed?
Right now, both aforementioned circumstances could happen. Organizations are trying to right-size their businesses; they are pulling out layers and layers of people, which means more responsibilities are left on those who remain with the company. People are under-challenged — more challenged about stuff they care less about, so they make mistakes — or they have more work that is beyond their capability, so they make mistakes.

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