HiPos ‒ Your emissary forever
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Over the last 11 years as a consultant, I have partnered with the best-in-class Consumer Products & Pharma companies and have noticed the growing trend where in leaders today have been forthcoming. But at the same time, leaders are cautious while making a switch into a new sector. They weigh the risk basis the organizations reputation, appetite and talent practices in comparison to his current employer. Similarly, for new-age organizations in the E-Commerce sector, while there is attractiveness to leaders from diverse sectors, there is also an equal amount of caution while evaluating their performance, leadership caliber, adaptability and most importantly the brands the individual represents.
At Right Management, we align talent strategies to business keeping in mind the growing need for organizations to build a strong employer brand that can act like a magnet for the external (consumer) and internal (employees) stakeholders. Your employer brand characterizes the identity of your company as an employer of choice. Hence, how you engage your peopl truly helps you to create the required pull to future employees and retaining current ones provided your identity is innovative, credible, relevant and aspirational. Having a true employment brand strategy that connects to the employee value proposition and offers a platform to develop the right candidates will help you to stand out in your market, strengthen your talent pipeline and continue to draw in top talent.
We interviewed the Chief Executive and the Head of HR of a Mid-Sized Consumer Products company to understand how they continued to have attrition as low as 4-5% consistently over the years, despite being poor pay masters. The CEO and the HR Head joined the company 8 years back and while there had been steady growth in the initial years, there came a time when the global organization wanted to pull back its investment in India and also decided to shut its local manufacturing operations. Now from being a full-fledged FMCG company, the organization became a pure plug trading company that imported large number of SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) and sold them in India through its Tier-1 distributor channels. But it is this team who made the choice to re-invent and re-group the business focus basis the directives of the global organization and the needs of the local customers. The HR Head, with great pride explains the true meaning of an employer brand; it is not just to be a talent magnet but in the real sense, help its employees and customers believe in its dreams and aspirations. As a result it attracts everyone to align to the larger organizational objective.
The CEO defines the criticality of a High Potential Talent Development program, which was institutionalized locally to help individuals to build on their strengths, channelize the opportunities and work on their development areas with immense responsibility from strategy to execution. For e.g. the ownership of the product or category p/l was offered to the junior-most brand manager and the responsibility to shape and develop him was left to the Category Head (his superior). Some of the young high-achievers were asked to form an innovation cell that complimented the long term objectives to create an India-specific product against a globally imported product. Understanding the complexity of the business, key sales talent were given dual responsibility to develop a new business incubation strategy aligning keeping in mind growing competition from low-cost appealing products made in china.
HiPos are the true ambassadors of your company but while they are your best bets, avoiding challenges around identifying and developing them is critical. Some of the key obstacles include Human Resource practices including over-dependency on the annual talent review process, incorrect definition of potentials, the constant dilemma between potential against readiness, less inclined managers, etc. Organizations could adopt multiple means for identifying HiPos to avoid over dependency like a robust process and development execution. We at Right Management believe that “Employers that provide career development opportunities are six times more likely to engage their employees than organizations that do not”.
While we observe the careers of some of the HiPos in many global and Indian companies, the question that often puts one into a dilemma is that of the comparison between the Leader as ‘the brand’ or the organization as ‘the brand’. And while we deep-dive to analyze multiple such leaders and their representative organizations, I am amazed to conclude that organizations today are unable to consistently ‘have and develop’ the required ecosystem to engage and develop HiPos. This is the need of the hour and organizations need to focus on this aspect on priority.