More Pressure, More Diamonds

Culture and values
Phil Purver
By Phil Purver | 6th May 2020

Chief Executive of The Working Manager, Managing Director of TWME8 and iRIS Health Solutions Ltd.

In rocky times, few things are more critical than carving a smooth path forward. Since the onset of Covid-19, businesses have been navigating a fluctuating landscape that's like nothing they've ever seen before. In this uncharted territory, it makes sense to focus on High Potential employees to ensure they're equipped for whatever the future may bring.

Perhaps these High Potentials are those who you’ve explicitly identified as HiPos. Or maybe you’re witnessing other people — untapped, until now — emerging from across the business as we enter the “new normal” and prepare the ground for post-crisis recovery and economic growth. Either way, both High Potentials have key roles in the future success of your organisation.

Hopefully, you've already started to see your High Potentials coming into their own. Your foresight, faith and support should be paying off and — no matter how difficult things become — continuing to empower these individuals, so they're safe hands for the future should remain a priority.

Ask yourself: what opportunities are you providing for High Potentials to flex their unique skills in the current circumstances? Have any cracks opened up? What areas need the most development? Do you need to work on resilience?

Sarah Hobbs, Managing Director at Talent & Potential, had some powerful ideas on how to make the most of the development opportunities within our current circumstances in her recent webinar in conjunction with the LPI: Empowering Talent and Potential Through Change and Uncertainty.

From helping employees to raise their visibility and reminding them that their contribution will be remembered, to involving them in decisions and supporting them with training, there's much you can do to ensure High Potential employees remain engaged through the crisis and beyond. Be reassured: Covid-19 will be the making of many. It's worth remembering — as Henry Kissinger said — a diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.

The thing about diamonds, however, is they're not always easy to find. Yes, we can mine trusted sources, but looking in the same places, in the same ways, means gems elsewhere go undiscovered. Enter: Covid-19. This crisis is the biggest earthquake to disrupt the landscape in living memory. It's churning up whole industries. It's reforming organisations. It's unearthing rough diamonds and throwing them into the light.

The virus is giving you a unique opportunity to discover new talent. Take a look around your organisation. Are unexpected leaders and talents emerging? Who's stepping up and leading from the front? Who's taking decisive action and uniting people to tackle crucial challenges? Seize upon these bright, quick forces of change. Help them maintain momentum, develop their ways of working and inspire their teams.

There is no better opportunity to be on the lookout for “hidden” talent. Notice consistent results and team performances, then seek out the common denominator. Who's getting their head down to solve problems behind the scenes? Who's weathering the conditions, patiently and positively? Whose calm and unwavering effort is a steadying influence on shaky ground? Help these employees to practice visible leadership and make sure they take credit for their contributions.

Look at your whole workforce with fresh eyes. Perhaps the current circumstances have made you reevaluate the qualities you want to see in High Potentials. As Sarah noted in her webinar, it's worth asking; what are the behaviours you've seen from people during the crisis that you hope to see more of in the future?

'If there's one thing that the virus has highlighted, it's the value of kindness,' Sarah commented. 'It puts things into perspective. Kindness is not necessarily why we've chosen our High Potentials in the past. But maybe in future, it's something we need to think about when we're selecting people. And I think there's something in encouraging our existing talent to be empathetic and kind too. Picking up those skills is important now, from my perspective.'

So while the ground is shifting and many are focusing on short term crisis management, take a moment to ‘Think Potential’ and look for the ‘grit in the oyster’; those individuals, across the organisation, who continue to show determination, aptitude, promise, a resilient mindset and an enthusiasm to grow. These people will become the gems of success who future-ready the business. For organisations who can take advantage of these unique development opportunities, the future is diamond bright.

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