Today marks the release of Marvel’s Fantastic Four. The latest plot follows four youngsters – Sue Storm, Reed Richards, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm – as they travel to an alternate universe. After an accident exposes them to cosmic rays, the characters gain new, unique physical abilities. The four must then learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a dangerous enemy.
Naturally, we got a little curious and wondered how the Fantastic Four fit into today’s workplace. It was obvious: They’re your high potential employees (HiPos). They’re the rising stars in your organization who consistently look for ways to make your business better and who are hungry for development, volunteering to take on new assignments even when they don’t involve a promotion.
It can be quite daunting then, as a manager, to try and find ways to improve the performance of your HiPos. Imagine trying to come up with a development plan for members of your team who can become invisible, shape-shift their body, turn into a ball of fire, and have superhuman size and strength!
Well, maybe not quite those traits, but you get my point.
Dr. Franklin Storm, Sue and Johnny’s father, and a key figure in forming the Fantastic Four, is heard in a few of the film’s teaser clips saying, “If you can work together, then you can change the course of history.”
With the right approach tailored to each individual HiPo, your organization can change the course of its history and achieve tremendous business results.
Tips to develop your Fantastic HiPos
Here are a few tips to help develop your high-potential employees with different “superhero-like” abilities.
Sue Storm/ The Invisible Woman
Known as an individual who likes to work alone and once passive personality, Sue Storm has the power to become invisible and generate near-indestructible force fields around her or other targets. In addition, she has the ability to visualize and see things others can’t.
Sue Storm is your classic office introvert – they assess situations before acting, they listen to the ideas of others, and they are skilled at taking independent action. To get the best out of this HiPo, support their ideas and make their contributions visible to the team and the larger organization so they get credit for their work and value.
Most important, respect their need for space. Give them time to think, time to study the choices, and time to formulate an opinion they are comfortable sharing with you.
Reed Richards/ Mr. Fantastic
Reed Richards is a scientific genius who began uncovering the world’s greatest mysteries at a young age. He can shift, stretch, and reshape his body in many ways. Mr. Fantastic is highly intelligent, a natural leader and a gifted tactician and strategist.
Just when you think you can’t get any more out of this superstar employee, try providing them with high-risk opportunities in a supportive environment. HiPos need highly challenging development opportunities that allow them advance their career.
But, HiPos like Mr. Fantastic also need a supportive work environment to mitigate their risks and drive success. This type of approach will allow you, as their manager, to provide coaching only when necessary and shows how much you trust their ability to get the job done.
Johnny Storm/ The Human Torch
Outside of his containment suit, Johnny Storm is an adrenaline junkie with a penchant for fast cars and is known for being a rebel to authority. As The Human Torch, Storm really lights up the scene, covering his body in fire and flying at tremendous speeds.
This high-energy HiPo is sometimes so focused on speed that they run the risk of sacrificing on quality. So it’s your job to help then harness their energy.
Talk about ways this team member can attack big picture goals and reinforce the importance of teamwork. As an eventual team leader, they will need to learn to delegate in order to develop the skills of others, and not continue to feel like they have to do everything on their own.
Ben Grimm/ The Thing
In human form, Ben is the “muscle” of the group. That remains true when he transforms into The Thing, possessing superhuman strength, stamina and durability. His rock-like skin increases his toughness and resistance to injury. However, his greatest strength is loyalty, especially to his best friend, Reed Richards.
Despite this HiPos’ rough and tumble exterior, inside there lies a very self-aware and thoughtful individual. Focus your attention on coaching conversations to help develop emotional intelligence, which is one of the three types of “intelligence” these individuals will need to become effective leaders. That way, they can continue to perform at their best, and at the same time, learn how to better connect with colleagues.
Strength in numbers
If you think about it, the Fantastic Four are just like any team: They are individuals with their own set of individual challenges and tremendous abilities that must learn to work together to achieve a common goal.
Just like there’s a bit of actual science behind the new adaptation of the Fantastic Four franchise, there should also be a tactical approach to how you get the most out of your HiPos.
The key to choosing appropriate development tools for high potential employees is to get to know them as individuals – what motivates them, how they learn, their strengths and career aspirations.
From there, you and your organization’s HiPos will begin to realize that their strength truly lies in numbers and their ability to work together will help get the most out of each other and other team members.