Managing your High Potentials
Understanding the nuts and bolts of identifying high potentials & their readiness to take up future leadership positions can put an organisation on a fast track. However, one of the most critical factors is the definition of High Potentials or Hi-Po which is more often than not confused with high performers.
Are you creating the right conditions that make this engagement possible?
The process of identifying high potentials is an advanced talent development process, wherein people who are in the organization for the last 3 years, have a good track record, have the potential factors, and have an orientation towards development, are nominated. The barrier comes as they move up the ladder; one needs to look at complexity, visibility, span of control, change – these changes are exponential.
Most of the Fortune-100 companies, on an average, accord "high potential" status to less than one quarter of their leadership population. This size allows organizations to access enough forerunners to cultivate a strong pipeline of leaders for the future, and at the same time, remains small enough to allow them to focus their efforts appropriately. They formally identify their high potentials through a balance of assessments, such as 360-degree feedback and leadership style inventories, as well as performance ratings, and nominations. These comprehensive methods provide leading organizations with a robust view of the individual's capabilities, cultural fit, drive, and relationships within the organization. Beyond this, they also use additional channels, customized by level, to assess potential.
All that being said, the question at hand is: how do we move from commitment to action and build an inclusive leadership of the 21st century and – most importantly at this juncture – where should we start?
As organizations build strategies to develop key talent, it’s important to focus on elements that have been shown to affect company performance. From our experience of having designed and delivered over 200+ high potential leadership program, there are five steps to take into consideration:
- Define successful outcomes for high potential development programs: Using formal measurement tools to gauge the effectiveness of leadership development efforts can have a positive correlation to performance. Determine what the development program should accomplish and the measures that will indicate success. High-performance organizations report using a variety of such measures.
- Choose talent purposefully and assess: More than two-thirds (67%) of high-performance organizations use assessments to screen participants for high potential development programs (Source-CCL 2017). Consider the transparency of the process; it should allow organizations to clarify what kind of business skills and behaviours it values.
- Excel at coaching: Coaching is a critical tool that two-thirds of high-performance organizations use to hone specific skills in high-potential talent or to help them reach full potential more quickly. However, coaching itself can be difficult to master.
Organisations should ensure that leaders have sufficient opportunities to practice coaching skills via experiential training, such as role-playing. These sessions can help leaders sharpen their listening, probing and feedback skills so they can effectively coach the high-potential employees they manage.
- Expose high-potential employees to a broad business foundation: It’s not enough for employees to excel in their chosen fields. High-potential employees must develop broad business understanding as well. In fact, three times as many high-performance organizations as lower performers credit a broad business curriculum as a major success factor in their high potential development programs.
- Focus on visibility and challenge to develop high-potential employees:
A willingness to provide high-profile stretch assignments to employees identified as high potentials is a critical factor. Managers should be encouraged to step outside their silos and collaborate to identify challenging projects that aren’t being addressed, and then match high-potential talent to those projects.
Hence developing HiPos’ serves two purposes: it helps the high-potential employee get top-level exposure and it provides an opportunity for the executive team and board to begin developing relationships with those in the talent pipeline.