“Employee Engagement is defined as the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals". It is commonly mistaken as a means to measure employee happiness or employee satisfaction. When we come to High Potentials, this is the focus area that we need to dwell upon.
Traditionally, Employee Experience has always been a part of Employee Engagement; but never has it been the centre of attention. Most HiPo programs have been gung-ho about retention and job satisfaction; however, we need to understand that these are means to achieve the end result which is impactful business performance. And this is only possible if we revisit the whole phenomenon of the construct of HiPo programs.
According to a global study, Most of the high potentials are dissatisfied with their development experiences in their respective HiPo programs. There is a lack of ‘outside-in’ perspective at the macro level and this absence causes a sense of stagnation. With the changing times, we need to develop our HiPo programs so as to better develop our HiPo’s. A holistic and broad perspective will lead to the inclusion of best practices as there would a comparison of HiPo programs at a global level. This is the best way to bridge and put an end to the age-old nuance of performance versus potential. There can be a situation wherein the learning curve is high but the real time performance is continuously disappointing vis-à-vis someone who is a consistent performer but when faced with challenges in unfamiliar circumstances, will falter tremendously. Thus the first step is proper identification of HiPos wherein a balance of potential and performance is ideal.
Once we kick start the program, our brand new ‘developed’ HiPo program needs to focus on Employee Experience rather than just strategies revolving around retention and ‘feel good factors.’ There needs to be some hard-hitting upskilling for each and every High Potential and this growth plan needs to be individualized to perfection. There are always some hard nuts to crack; despite outward appearances, some walnuts just break open whereas some need to be cracked open with immense rigor. Now imagine your high potentials and the internal & external factors that have shaped them, and then make a calculated move, i.e. create or find experiences for them that will add value to their personal aspirations.
What is Employee Experience in the context of High Potentials? It is the alignment of the HiPo program with their career path in a manner that the exposure comes from doing rather than only classroom learning. Workshops, leadership coaching and mentoring will still have a place in training and development of the employees, but to develop VUCA leaders one must focus on ground learning in terms of challenging work assignments, increased responsibilities and on the job application of learning.
Let us keep in mind the 3E Model of learning while designing our HiPo development programs.
“If an organization expends the effort to identify and develop high potential candidates for future leadership positions, it makes sound business sense to do whatever it takes to protect that investment. Give them a fine reputation to live up to.”
Hence, we must protect that investment. According to a recent global study, matching development opportunities to personal career goals increases engagement by 35% and increases appetite for senior roles by 25%. Thus, it is a circle wherein enriching Employee Experiences lead to Employee Engagement which would lead to higher service, quality and productivity of employees which would lead to a highly successful business performance. And the code is cracked. Amen.