There are different stages based on the High Potential (HiPo) maturity model that exist in different organizations. There are organizations that start afresh and they might be at level 0 or 1 and this is the start of the journey! But at the same point of time, in established organizations, it may not be moving right from level 0 to 4 in a progression a HiPo strategy can be designed depending on the operating environment and can reach any level.
The foundation of the Maturity Model starts right from a ‘reactive stage’ where organizations are testing waters; there are ad hoc processes which are very much need-based and there may not be a specific HiPo Development Model in the organization but exist because of any requirement at that point in time. There is a future view of how high potentials can be leveraged and creating a brand for the organization comes into play.
The next level or step is termed as “Inconsistent HiPo Identification” where although there is a keen intent and a long-term view, in practice, it becomes manager-specific. At this stage, there might be a broad Talent Management Philosophy but it does not really incorporate the importance of high potential candidates within the organization.
The third level which is level 2 is around how organizations standardize the process of identifying high potentials and leverage them. This stage is typically integrated as a critical part of the talent management process and has executive engagement and a short term planning in picture.
After this comes a transparent HiPo program where one has a long-term plan and a business integrated HiPo strategy. In this, each executive member is committed to this entire play of grooming, capitalizing and further enabling high potential candidates and leveraging their strengths from an organizational perspective. This is fully integrated as a part of not just the talent processes but business impact measurement criteria’s as well. The system is very transparent and every high potential is aware of where they stand within the organization and from the other side as well. The organization too understands the pipeline of the high potential talent that they are building. There are organizations which jump to level 2 or level 3 and this happens when there has been a late start and focus on this particular aspect in talent management, however at the same time, there is enough focus and commitment on long term strategy play. Most organizations (which are established and have a commitment towards nurturing high potential talent) find themselves in level 2 or level 3. However, not many organizations reach level 4! And there is a reason: our industry (whichever we are in) is transforming very fast. It is very critical for talent management organizations to make sure that not only are they aligning themselves fast but at the same time the business is also leveraging consistently and the commitment stands not just when the business is stable but also in the transformational time frame.
Building channels for employer brand
Coming to the second critical part of the topic which is what an employer brand is? What are the various channels that employers in today’s world leverage to make sure that their brand is visible and known externally and to a large extent internally as well, especially for complex and large organizations. There are 9 channels and they are not exhaustive but they are essentially the critical ones in today’s era, which most of the organizations do leverage right from employee referrals (internal/external) to social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), Visual Effects (Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube), Print Media (Newsprint, Magazine, Journals), other websites (Glassdoor/payscale), Brand Ambassadors (Blogger, Spokeperson), Job Boards (Naukri, Headhoncho’s), Career Events (Campus Events) and Career Sites (Company Recruitment Portal). Five years back, some of them could have been easily clubbed together example print and other websites could have been clubbed together. Visual Effects and Social Media could have been clubbed together but as we progress each day and with the diversification of various channels through which we can communicate internally & externally, each one of them becomes critical and hence the focus on each one of them becomes critical. If you look at what is the lowest common denominator of each of the channels, it is employees, hence, it is imperative to understand that these are just the mediums.
HiPos in any organizations not just contribute to higher efficiency and productivity, but they act as ambassadors and make sure that they are able to build a story for the organization. And this can be leveraged by an organization by exhibiting best practices and great work done by HiPos through the right channels. To me, it is a very strong linkage between the HiPos and the employer brand specifically in today’s environment.
Efficacy of HiPo Programs
Today, the emphasis is increasing on efficacy of HiPo programs. Every organization in different domains and industries has different approaches to such programs. But what cuts across as a common thread is how well is it stitched together and is consistently driven to achieve desirable outcomes that the organization wants from each of these candidates & in bringing to front, the collective success of the organization. At a very high level, the best companies have a common thread of identifying the right set of measures of not just the high potentials’ aspiration and ability but also what is desired by the organization, the goals from a two year or a five year stand point. It is about identifying such benchmarks.
The critical part for L&D professionals is in providing structured learning experiences which result in impactful performances. Today, structured learning experiences are no longer restricted to just classroom interventions or virtual sessions, it is a combination of education, exposure and experience. The 3 Es give a consolidated exposure to any individual in an organization right from the base level to the senior level. But when transforming fast, managing becomes a challenge as refreshing concepts, changing the model and making sure that a strategic view is maintained is critical.
So it is always the fight against how soon these practices can be deployed and sustained in an ever changing environment.
Case study compiled from the webinar “HiPo- catalyst to employer branding” by Kunal Wali, Associate Director - Talent Development, IBM, on the 4th July 2016.