You know that employee who just showed up and exceeded all of your expectations with little guidance?

Neither do we.

We all wish for a shortcut to hiring top performers who can hit the ground running, but the reality is, identifying and developing leaders takes time.

If you’re becoming frustrated, it may be because you’re making one of these three common mistakes.

1. You’re Not Identifying High-Potential Employees Early Enough

The first step is to identify employees who demonstrate the desire, the skills and the commitment to lead long before you need them to step up into key roles.

There are numerous ways to be proactive about this. It could be as simple as soliciting informal peer recommendations or as formal as encouraging interested employees to take a leadership assessment to become eligible for further training and development.

You can also encourage first-line supervisors to talk amongst themselves regarding employees looking for new experiences and maintain open-door policies where employees can discuss their aspirations. The key point here is to be sure you have a way to identify employees’ career goals and aptitude early so you can support them along the way. All too often, however, managers promote employees to leadership positions based on gut feelings or because they feel they’ve “earned it.”

This approach is flawed for several reasons. First, the employees who are the first to arrive and last to leave aren’t necessarily your top performers; in fact, others may just be more efficient. Secondly, someone who is a strong producer as an individual may not necessarily have the skills needed to motivate, coach and delegate well to others.

OnPoint offers leadership assessments based on objective data, which helps ensure they have the essential leadership qualities needed to succeed.

2. You’re Not Planning Their Advancement

Having a plan to identify high-potential employees is a great first step, but it shouldn’t be a one-sided effort.

You need to engage your employees, learn their motivations and aspirations, then put goals on paper for them to achieve. Whether it is their next promotion opportunity or a series of simple career milestones to further assess their potential, it’s essential to put “low hanging fruit” and higher reach goals in front of employees to ensure they continue to be engaged and dedicated to the work they do every day.

Tiered development plans allow you to train high potential employees but also continue to vet them as potential leaders. Not every potential high performer will meet initial expectations, but gradual increases in responsibility will help you narrow your pool of candidates to continue maximize your investment in their development.

3. You’re Not Targeting Their Development to Their Advancement

Once you have identified high potential employees and have engaged them in an ongoing dialogue about their goals, it’s time to develop customized programs to meet their needs.

Maybe one of your employees has all of the technical skills and desire necessary to be a leader but needs help with public speaking and managing conflict. Conducting a leadership assessment can help you identify their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for further development. Find the right courses to meet their needs, and consider providing them in a format that it best suited to how they learn. Some people are visual learners, while others learn better by experience. In addition to formal training, use on the job assignments and assign mentors to ensure employees are set up for success.

More Tips For Identifying and Developing Leaders

Today’s high-potential employees are tomorrow’s future leaders—but they need the right guidance to reach their full potential.

OnPoint provides both leadership assessment and leadership development and training solutions to help you get started. To learn more about our programs and our approach, download our program guide, “Identifying and Developing Leaders: Proven Techniques for Maximizing ROI.”