If supported in the right way, the employees you recruit into your organisation have boundless potential to help develop your organisation, but only if they are encouraged to do so. This applies to all new employees you hire in your organisation, who, with fresh eyes and a propensity for doing things differently, can quickly become the future game changers of an organisation.

But utilising this energy and enthusiasm for change can be a significant challenge for some organisations and may require a considerable shift in the organisational paradigm. To enable people to fully contribute and achieve their potential, there needs to be a culture that actively promotes and encourages this. Fortunately working to identify the best ways to attract, develop and retain future game changes can be the catalyst needed to help make this shift a reality.

Step one: Attract

Know what game you’re looking to play

You can’t attract the best individuals to your organisation unless you know what it is that you’re trying to build – and don’t just focus on the now. Look at the future of your organisation, where you want it to be, and hire according to this vision. Once you are clear about this internally, make it clear externally too – let potential employees know what you want to be working towards and, more importantly, that you’re excited about it. Today’s employees typically want to feel like they are contributing to something bigger and having a real impact on something tangible, so if you want to attract future game changers, make sure they know they have the potential to hold this title. Being clear from the outset about what you want from your employees and how you envision them impacting the business in the future, will immediately make your opportunity considerably more attractive. If you then demonstrate this with genuine passion and excitement about the future, this will quickly become infectious and you will have no problem attracting people that can help bring this about.

Play differently

If you want to attract new employees who can spearhead change in your business, then you need to make it clear that you are different yourself. You are going to struggle to convince any smart candidates that you are different and in the market for future game changers if your recruitment campaign, selection process and marketing are the same as everyone else’s. Future game changers will often be the people who don’t do things like everyone else so they will therefore be looking for something different when applying for jobs. Employers need to use their unique brand, personality and style to inform their recruitment campaign and selection process. If you’re a tech company looking for the future super-hackers of the world, get them to test their mettle with an interactive game that demonstrates what you are about. If you’re an advertising business, then use your expertise to design the most amazing advert any candidate has ever seen. Don’t rely on the standard approaches to attract your new employees, find ways to stand out, shout proudly about what you do and you’ll inevitably attract people who are more closely aligned with that you do and want to achieve. That’s the most effective way to recruit the future game changers of your business.

Step two: Develop

Offer structure and flexibility

Every organisation will have some form of process in place to support the development of their workforce. But while this is vital to ensure that all employees are offered a fair approach to L&D, where this approach fails is by not recognising the individual needs and desires of their employees. You hire people because of their unique skills, knowledge and experience, and if you’re not respecting this and actively supporting their individual growth by providing tailored opportunities, then you are not making the most of what that person has to offer. This can be difficult in employees who may not be aware of where they excel, or where they want to develop. But this is where effective management plays a role; a good manager should be able to support each of their employees to achieve their potential, no matter what path is needed to get there. For some people it will be frequent attendance at formal learning events, for others it will be the opportunity to try new things on the job; and for others they may prefer a more self-directed approach with only minimal input from management. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what the approach is, as long as it works. Everyone is different, so the ability to provide flexible opportunities to accommodate for this is vital. This doesn’t mean there is no structure or processes to adhere to, but achieving the balance between supportive structure and the flexibility to grow as needed is essential in developing the future game changers of your business.

Encourage innovation and permit mistakes

When it comes to developing your future game changers, it’s highly likely they will already have a wealth of innovative ideas to offer, the key is utilising them. Often individuals are told when they first start a job that they should offer opinions and ideas for change, but either they don’t feel comfortable doing so for fear of upsetting the status quo; or they do suggest things which are then rejected because ‘that’s not the way things are done’. This is extremely damaging to the potential of your new recruits as it sets a negative precedent for any future input. If you want to maximise their potential, you must actively encourage innovation and get them to suggest ideas and ways to change; after all, this is what game changers do. Encouraging innovation will have positive outcomes for the business, and it will also boost the confidence of your employees. But it’s important to remember that not all innovative ideas will work out, so it’s also vital you allow people the freedom to make mistakes and learn lessons. People will inevitably make mistakes, and it’s more productive to create a culture where this is encouraged (within reason) and individuals are supported to learn from the experience. All game changers have made mistakes in the past; it’s what they learn as a result that leads them to be so successful in the future.

Step three: Retain

Recognise and reward

Recognition and reward are key to retain any employee, but even more important for future game changers; they want to know they are having an impact, and if you don’t tell them this, they will move on and find somewhere where they feel appreciated. Don’t learn this lesson the hard way; actively recognise the efforts and contributions of your staff and reward them where appropriate. But don’t confuse the two; recognition is the appreciation of the effort someone has put in, rewards are a tangible demonstration showing thanks for something specific. Both elements are important to keep hold of good employees; but typically game changers will be more receptive to recognition than rewards; knowing their efforts are appreciated will encourage them to continue to work hard in the future.

Don’t allow stagnation

One thing that will almost certainly damage the potential of your future game changers is allowing them to stagnate. This may be in terms of role and responsibilities or professional development and knowledge accumulation; either way it is paramount that your new employees are actively supported in their continued growth. If you continue to demonstrate a genuine interest in their development, and are able to facilitate this in a way that appeals to them, then you need never lose a valuable employee; and your future game changers can reach the potential you recognised when you hired them.

There are so many things that can be done to attract, develop and retain the future game changers within an organisation. The above are just a few brief ideas that address some of the most important areas of focus for supporting high potential employees. But ultimately what it comes down to is making the most of the individual; every employee has the potential to be a future game changer, and the way to make that happen is to support them in the way they need. If this can be achieved, there is no limit to what an individual or the organisation can do.

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