A person’s potential refers to their ability to take on a position of greater responsibility within a specific time period
The key fundamental exercise to be done before creating a roadmap for high potential employees is to define “high potential”. It is important to define what a high potential is not before we can truly say what a high potential is. While the term high potential is often used with high performers, the two are not synonymous.
Many instances in the past have shown that high potential are almost always high performers but the reverse is not always true. The best firms understand that an individual’s current performance and his or her future potential for advancement are two fundamentally different measures.
Performance is defined by various firms and is often a combination of delivering business results with the exhibition of certain behaviors expected of leaders. While performance is evaluated in a historical context, typically over the past six months to a year, potential is a future-directed assessment. Specifically, a person’s potential refers to their ability to take on a position of greater responsibility within a specific time period.
Rob Silzer and Allan Church in an article have defined a model illustrating key indicators of potential (mentioned below):
Cognitive: Conceptual strategic thinking, Cognitive abilities, Dealing with complexity
Personality: Interpersonal skills, Sociability, Dominance, Emotional stability, Resilience
Learning: Adaptability, Learning orientation, Open to feedback
Motivation: Drive, Energy, Achievement orientation, Career ambition, Risk taking, Results orientation
Leadership: Leadership capabilities, Managing people, Developing others, Influencing, Challenging status quo, Change management
Performance: Performance record (career-relevant), Career experiences
Knowledge: Technical/functional skills and knowledge
Cultural fit: Career-relevant values and norms
Having understood the fundamental and key indicators, it is necessary to outlive a few rules, which have been used by farsighted companies globally to build a steady, reliable pipeline of leadership talent from the pool of high potential employees.
Focus on Development
It is important to focus on development of high potential employees, it is imperative to marry succession planning and leadership development, by doing this you get the best of both: attention to the skills required for senior management positions along with an educational system that can help managers develop those skills.
Focus on Linchpin Positions
Leadership development should usually begin in middle management. It allows companies to take a long-term view of the process of preparing middle managers, even those below the director level, to become general managers. Succession management systems should focus intensively on linchpin positions—jobs that are essential to the long-term health of the organization.
Measure Progress and do it regularly
When you are looking at developing high potential talent then measuring success becomes a long-term matter. It is no longer sufficient to know who could take the next new position; instead, you must know whether the right people are moving at the right pace into the right jobs at the right time. The ultimate goal is to ensure a solid slate of candidates for the top job.
Keep it flexible
Most companies globally look at developing high potential talent as a very rigid exercise, instead of doing that it is best to use the Japanese notion of kaizen, or continuous improvement of both content and process. This helps the process become very entrepreneurial in nature become rewarding and yet be very nimble.
It is clearly the biggest and most important felt need of organizations at different levels of evolution, worldwide. It needs to be treated as a function, which is as critical as a business function, with the right amount of focus and with a measurable success metrics in place; it has the ability to define the future of any company.
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