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As a leader, you’re a visionary. You may even use terms like ‘cat-herder,’ ‘jack of all trades’ and ‘superstar’ to describe yourself.

But just because you can accomplish practically all things to all functions necessary for your emerging enterprise, doesn’t mean that you should.

Ideally, leaders should spend the bulk of their time and energy doing that which only they can do encouraging and supporting the growth of their business – but often, the brunt of everyday administrative responsibilities – bookkeeping, scheduling, social media, maintaining a website, and more – falls squarely on their shoulders.

What you need is help – a right-hand (wo-)man or wing (wo-)man to help you scale. But despite your growth, hiring someone may not be realistic – at least not yet.

So, to recap: You want to grow so you need help, but you can’t yet afford help so you can’t grow.

It’s a catch-22.

There has to be another way, right?

We’re so glad you asked – because there is.

Developing Talent In-House

A workplace study by a Wharton management professor found that external hires are often the least effective choice for companies. Why?

  • External hires tend to get ‘… significantly lower performance evaluations for their first two years on the job than do internal workers who are promoted into similar jobs.’
  • They also have ‘…higher exit rates, and they are paid about 18 to 20 percent more.’

Would you want to pay more money for reduced performance? So, you look to your team to uncover hidden talent.

Promoting from within not only strengthens your existing culture, but it also rewards loyalty, creates smoother transitions, demonstrates growth paths for existing employees, and preserves existing institutional knowledge.

How To Know Who’s Ready For More

As a leader, you know your employees. You know their strengths, their weaknesses, their passions and ambitions.

(Aside: If you don’t, you really should. Seriously. In fact, we suggest you go do that now before you do anything else.)

Now – and only now – are you ready to consider these seven factors when it comes to finding hidden, promotable talent on your team.

Their bases are always covered. 

The employee consistently does their work, producing expected deliverables or completing core tasks satisfactorily and on time.

They have a career vision.

When you ask the employee where they want to be in five years, they have a clear answer for the kind of work they aspire to do – and why.

Everyone wants a piece of them.

There are constant requests from other teams for a specific employee’s help, input or time – a surefire sign that they’re ready for more.

Their performance passes the test.

The employee has a proven track record of exceeding expectations and a long history of improvement.

They are full of ideas.

The employee always seems to have a new perspective, a fresh idea or novel insight – which is a good indicator that the same enthusiasm will be brought to their new role.

They live to learn and grow.

The employee subscribes to industry journals, belongs to professional associations and attends career-focused groups in their free time.

They shine under pressure.

The employee runs to problems, challenges and obstacles, and has never encountered a challenge they couldn’t handle.

Think of your existing human capital as invaluable pieces of a game of chess: You just need to be strategic in placing the right people in the right places to maximize their potential – and your organization’s opportunities to grow.

And when you know what to look for – those diamonds in the (not-so) rough – your business can experience a windfall of growth, while boosting morale and strengthening culture.

And that? That’s priceless.

For more on how to know how to find your hidden talent, check out How To Know Who’s Ready To Take On More.