6 Steps to Nurture Your Organization’s Talent

You won’t need to constantly compete for talent outside your organization if you nurture the employees you already have. Here are some tips to help you recognize and nurture high-potential employees within your organization while also focusing on diversity equity and inclusion (DEI). Recognizing and cultivating the talent you already have will make it easier to attract top talent from outside your organization. Companies that recognize the many benefits of diversity at all levels will find that “one size fits all” is not the best option. Val Haskell (tech workforce evangelist and chair, Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community, CompTIA) sat down to talk with Demetria Miles McDonald, founder and CEO, Decide Diversity, about how to nurture existing talent and also focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Diversify Leadership to Diversify Highly-Potential Employees
Miles-McDonald says organizations need to rethink how they identify high-potential talent to contribute to DEI efforts. The traditional method of identifying employees who excelled has been used by managers in annual performance reviews. However, this system favors employees who are similar or identical to the managers who conduct the reviews.
Miles-McDonald stated that while performance reviews are a common way to evaluate high-potential employees, our biases can influence how we rate them. “When you look at people who review very high, they will mirror the person doing their performance review… I believe there are opportunities to improve how we identify high-potential employees.
Miles-McDonald says that diversifying leadership and management is key to ensuring that more employees are identified.
It’s the same as when you hire: if your slate is diverse, you have a greater chance of hiring diverse candidates. Miles-McDonald asked, “How can we diversify leaders who decide on high potential employees?”
Rethink the Annual Review
It is important to rethink the performance review process, especially if your organization has an annual review. Miles-McDonald says that a once-a-year review doesn’t give the whole picture.
“That’s misleading about who’s going above-and-beyond. Who is more committed than others? Who is better at communicating and who has a passion for learning and continuous improvement? Miles-McDonald said that if you conduct performance reviews more often, such as quarterly or monthly, the chances of you identifying high-potential employees increases.
Tell the employee

Leaders and managers may be able to identify high-potential employees by not telling the employee. There are likely pros and cons to this decision. Research shows that people who are formally identified with high potential tend to live up more to that label than those who aren’t.
It all goes back to the selffulfilling prophecy. The self-fulfilling prophecy states that we have now identified you as a high potential employee. Miles-McDonald said, “Now you have the expectation that you will succeed.”
You can challenge your talent with new perspectives
How do you retain employees once you have identified them as having high potential? If you want to reap the benefits of cultivating talent, retention is crucial. Leaders must ensure that high-potential employees are engaged and that there is diversity in the team.
Miles-McDonald stated that diversity is something that many organizations don’t consider. It can help them to have high-potential employees who are challenged constantly. “We often talk about diversity when it comes to perspectives at the table. Being diverse is how we reach a solution that’s better than anything any of us individually could have conceived.
Sponsorship Opportunities
If they don’t have a place at the table, high-potential employees won’t be able to reach their potential. Sponsorship can be the bridge that allows an employee to have the access and opportunities they need. Miles-McDonald was fortunate to have a sponsor early in her career, which changed her career. Now it’s her turn.
“Now, I’m the one who makes it possible for people to bring their ideas to the table. While I may not agree with all of them, I believe they have the potential to transform the organization. M. said that they often just need the space to make it happen.