Article: HiPos - Invest Inside, Harvest Outside

A Brand Reachout InitiativeLeadership

HiPos - Invest Inside, Harvest Outside


Prithvi Shergill, CHRO, HCL Technologies, shares how HCL Technologies is empowering its high potentials with skills & an environment which gives them a sense of purpose.
HiPos - Invest Inside, Harvest Outside

HiPos are critical for organizations to succeed and if I talk about how we, at HCL, look at high potentials, we may be one of the few organizations today that carries out a potential assessment of its workforce across all levels with 100 % coverage every year. And as a part of Performance Management, we require our People Managers to identify and categorize their team members in the following 9 categories:

  • Synthesize data for decisions
  • Productive and efficient
  • Accept changing roles
  • Proven high performance
  • Effective, driven and responsible
  • Committed to organization
  • Seek information and see a broader view
  • Have integrity and authenticity

The reason for this is that while we believe that high performance is crucial and a desired objective, it is important to understand as to who has the depth, skills, attitude and mindset to look at and take the next level of progression & responsibility. The main imperative for us is to discover how we can make employees more productive and effective as we look at their careers going forward. Who has the ability to take an enterprise view rather than just a line of business, and has the authenticity, integrity and commitment to go beyond for the organization. This gives us rich insights into the talent pool that we have. 

HiPos as brand ambassadors

When we talk about a ‘brand’, for us as an employer, our brand talks about our identity, beliefs, intentions, the promises we make in terms of the experience people will have when they come and build a career here. Organizations talk about this as Employee Value Proposition, and at HCL, we are looking at creating a reason for people to strive to do better and in turn help us achieve our people agenda to attract the right people and to be considered as “an employer of choice for the employees of choice that we want”. When you put these things together, the high potential talent segment gives us a pool of people who can truly help us take the message across as brand ambassadors. High potentials are considered as ‘Culture Champions’ within HCL who take our story to the key audiences and really be a career coacher, mentor and counselor to the larger workforce.

Let us see how this plays out in reality. HiPos are looked at as models or examples by the workforce of individuals who have beliefs that are similar to HCL’s value system. We profile our high potentials as ‘Ideapreneures’ who demonstrate HCL’s culture of living and add value by seeding, nurturing and harvesting ideas and being what we call the ‘Culture Champions’ of the organization. We recently launched a program called “Inspire” where we looked at many of these high potentials to work with their colleagues, team members and friends to cascade such beliefs and behaviors down throughout the organization. We believe that a culture not only gets created top-down but is sustained if kept alive bottom-up. 

High potentials at HCL are members of the “Employee First Councils” and provide us with inputs on whether we are really delivering on the Employee Value Proposition, the promises that we have made around building a culture or environment where they would want to work. That’s how we make an Employee Value Proposition and a promise about an experience which delivers. The best testimonials through which this can be demonstrated specially when one is looking at attracting talent is by having people to go out and talk about their journey, by either showcasing the organizational methodologies or by going and meeting other people, learning from them, bringing back the new ideas, introducing & sharing our best practices.

Many of our learning programs, specially the external forums in which we invest as a part of our job based curriculum, we encourage our HiPos to participate and engage in what we call “Eco Learning Sessions”, where they share what they have seen and experienced in the organization. At the end of the day, if you have a certain experience in an organization, it is not left to you alone, you will share the experience, if it is good, with at least 10 people and if it is bad, possibly with 10 extra people. Word of mouth, in terms of communication and advocacy is more than marketing. We look up to our HiPos as “Proponents of Optimism” because in present uncertain and volatile work environment, it becomes very important that there is a positive voice inside the organization as we go forward. 

At HCL, we also have Career Management Processes, where we use a methodology called “Career Connect” which allows the employees to crowdsource ideas from experts about how they can grow in their careers and assume higher levels of responsibilities. This is a great platform for many of these high potentials to play the role of mentors and guides. People can see how they (HiPos) have grown in their careers & have fulfilled their potential and get counseled on how the same can be applied to their careers.

HiPo Engagement at HCL

At HCL, we try and make sure that there are distinctive inputs given to the individuals for learning and development by ensuring that they get access to the best learning sources in the world. In terms of our Rewards and Recognition, we have a practice where people with outstanding performance and who come in the top 30% of the organization, are invited to an event called “O infinity”, where they celebrate their contributions to the organization with their families. They are recognized not just in the presence of others but are also encouraged to share their stories so that others can learn from them.

We also encourage grass root innovation. Currently we are tracking value of ideas close to 500 million dollars plus per year which is outside of commercial contracts with our clients, and these are ideas that get generated by our employees for their clients. We find that HiPos play the lead in helping others use many of the seed platforms that we have in which people can share their ideas. Talking about Career Progression, we have created a specific developmental program we call “Top Gun.” which helps HiPos take accountability for transformational and global strategies. We manage their careers across the enterprise and offer positions and roles for new initiative & businesses so that they can truly grow and help the company grow in turn. Last but not the least is anchoring what we called “Passion clubs” or “Employee First Councils”, which are employee-led activities and provide high potentials a leadership opportunity to demonstrate their skills and capabilities. By giving them autonomy to drive new ideas & initiatives, we help them to accelerate their careers. 

This is the key from our perspective: to give high potentials the autonomy to be the best of what they can be, to give them the skills so that they are ready for the 21st century enterprise of the future and most importantly an environment which gives them a sense of purpose because that really brings out the best in them.

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Topics: Leadership, #HiPoWeek

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