I wrote a post about why companies are so bad at identifying high performers. Another area that should be explored is how to prepare high performers once you identify them. Companies tend to not be any better at preparing, so here are some suggestions.
Tell the individual they are considered a high performer. It lets the employee know that there is a growth path for them, which should increase loyalty and engagement. It also gives you the opportunity to challenge them more.
Assign a mentor - outside of the department. You want high potential people to get exposure to as many groups and people as possible. Building those relationships will increase influence. Having a mentor outside the department gives them access to people and skills they might never see.
Create a development plan. Every employee should have one, but the high performer needs one. You want them to keep moving up and being challenged. This should be reviewed and updated monthly with the manager.
Let them fail. Don't structure high performers in a Survivor type game, where only those who succeed move on. Let them fail, and talk about what they learned and how they will change. Failure is what we want from high performers because it means they are stretching and growing. If you make them afraid to fail, you create a group think mentality that will eventually hurt the company.
What other suggestions do you have or have you seen for preparing high performers to advance in the company?