BY ROWENA CROSBIE, president, Tero International

You have just brought on some high-potential employees you want to retain and promote over time. Yet research says the statistics for retention of high potentials are not good. In fact, consider the following: One in four intends to leave your employ within one year. 

According to the Harvard Business Review article “How to Hang On to Your High Potentials” by Araoz, Groysberg and Nohria, there are some important things to know to hang on to your high-potential hires. We have wrapped these into five Tero Tips to help you retain the talent you attract.

What will affect high potentials retention? Here are the five things to watch for.

  1. Outsized expectations and alternatives are two reasons high potentials are difficult to retain.

    High potentials set a high bar for organizations. They work harder but also have expectations of how they should be treated. If a company starts to struggle, research shows they are much more confident to find new jobs and more likely to leave. 
  2. The number of employees who can be described as “highly disengaged” and looking for new employment opportunities has increased. 

    When a high potential becomes disengaged, the loss is costly. Discretionary effort, the willingness to go above and beyond, can be 50% lower among highly disengaged employees than among their colleagues with average engagement.
  3. Do high performers have the potential to do well in future roles based on their past performance?

    Not so fast. While they may come into the organization with a great past track record, more than 70% of today’s top performers lack critical attributes essential to their success in future roles.
  4. If you want high potentials to be successful and stay, there are three traits to look for in your high performers if you are wishing to retain them.

    The three traits are ability, engagement and aspiration. A lack of any of these three in a high potential can negatively affect success and retention.
  5. Are high potentials more likely to stay when placed in appropriate departments and have an expert line manager to guide their career path?

This is not the case. High potentials are long-term corporate assets. To retain them, their development should be shared by general managers to develop skills needed for future roles, not limiting them to the narrow scope and focus of one business unit.

The stats may be disheartening with regard to keeping your high-potential hire, but taking note of these five Tero Tips can help you maximize your ability to retain and sustain this important acquisition of talent.


Rowena Crosbie

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