Create your own “High Potential” program

Credit: emilydickinsonridesabmx's photostream

Credit: emilydickinsonridesabmx’s photostream

“High Potential” programs are a great way for companies to recognize talented workers who would make good future leaders. Increasingly, organizations are singling out their best workers in this way, and with the label comes extra training and opportunities. There’s certainly a pride that comes with being recognized, and high-potential employees, more often then not, excitedly participate in all the program has to offer. A recent Globe and Mail article has some great tips on keeping momentum when you’re on the fast track. And if you’re on the track you want to be on, you’re golden.Here’s where my cautious streak rears it’s head. Getting swept up in other people’s plans for you is really easy. Particularly, if you thrive from recognition of this type.

An analogy: When I was young, I was put in a Gifted program and won awards for the highest marks in my grade. The message was: “you are smart and good at school.” And so, as was expected I suppose, I proved them right and continued my focus on getting A’s. When the Guidance Counselor at my high school told me that I was eligible to get into a prestigious University business program (“business” sounded sort of interesting and just as good as anything else…) I proudly went that route when I was accepted. I was entirely swept up in satisfying others’ definitions of success, and I honestly never stopped to think critically about what I was really interested in until after I was already in the workforce.

It’s not just young people who are susceptible to following the path of what they’re good at. It’s a great feeling being good at something, particularly if you have cheerleaders (family, employers) on the route. A truly satisfying career, however, adds another dimension to having the skills: the dimension of what you truly enjoy.  At the intersection of “what you’re good at” and “what you love to do” is where you will thrive. You’re where you’re at now because you have (consciously or unconsciously) identified at least part of this equation. Keep evolving. What part of your work do you love? How can you do more of it in a current role or another? What are you great at? How can you demonstrate more of this in your current role or another? Create a personal “high potential” program!

Let’s get specific…

“A county level look at vote volume and proportion.” Source: IDVSolutions

“A county level look at vote volume and proportion.” Source: IDVSolutions

Picture this. Obama and Romney look to their right-hand man for the results of their efforts in the US Presidential campaign. “How’d we do?” they ask their respective people. Obama’s guy says, “you won!” Romney’s guy says, “you lost.” The feedback is succinct and accurate.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have this: “A county level look at vote volume and proportion.” Wow. This is feedback that bares all.

How specific is the feedback you provide at work?