Not Nurturing Hi-Potentials is a Foolish Mistake

By Posted in - Succession/Talent Reviews on October 19th, 2011 0 Comments

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, just 68% of companies formally identify high potentials and only 28% of companies tell employees they have been identified as high potential individuals.  It is hard to believe that if the individual is unaware they have been labeled as such, that they are receiving any differential investment in their development.  The data was based on a survey by Towers Watson of 316 organizations in North America.  I am willing to bet these organizations were larger organizations and the true percentage of companies with high potential programs is actually lower.

There are two reasons why more organizations do not have high potential programs:

1.  Advancement potential is a difficult construct to measure accurately

2.  Developing high potentials requires structured processes and considerable resource and focus

Measuring advancement potential in many organizations is just a popularity contest, a highly subjective opinion that is proven wrong too often when high potential individuals fail to succeed when they advance.  High potential programs with high failure rates can be demoralizing rather than positive and some organizations shy away from forming a program for this reason.  Advancement potential can be measured accurately as I have described in my white paper, “Unlocking the DNA of Potential” and can be used in conjunction with managerial judgments, not necessarily replacing them.

If you are going to identify high potentials, you should let them know and differentially invest in their development.  There are a number of proven methods for developing high potentials as I described in one of my recent blogs, “Proven Practices for Developing High Potential Individuals.”  Some of these methods do require significant effort or resources (e.g., mentoring programs, job rotation programs) but others are less demanding.  Stretch assignments and action learning assignments are effective ways to develop individuals while engaging them in meaningful work.

Development needs to be focused on identified gaps.  Gaps are surfaced during a comprehensive talent review process.  I described an effective process in my blog,  “Key Components to the Talent Review Process.”

While high potential programs do require structured process, resource, and focus, can organizations really afford not to implement such programs?  In a recent global survey of 80 companies, 69% of companies say they are “somewhat” or “significantly” challenged to develop the leadership talent required to compete in emerging markets (Corporate University Exchange, Leadership 2012 Survey).  The future demands that leaders be ready with the skills and knowledge to compete, and developing high potential individuals is key to building the necessary bench strength.

To learn more about how OMNIview can help your organization tackle its High Potential initiatives, please call us at 877.426.6222.

Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

About Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

Patrick Hauenstein is the President and Chief Science Officer for OMNIview. During his free time Pat likes to cook. He is particularly fond of traditional southern cuisine. Pat is also an animal lover ...
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