The world has always looked upon the dark horses with hope. They are Arjuns of Mahabharat, groomed to become best archer or Dhabaria Sahab’s Talent hunt in “DEEWAAR” of Vijay who led his organization’s challenging assignments in future.
Arjun and Vijay are sought after by leaders even today, only the process has become more evolved as we talk of competencies and potential appraisals.
Who are HiPOs and why do we identify them. They are the people who have the potential to handle bigger role and organizations groom them through various interventions like Project assignment, OJT, cross functional assignment, certification course, mentoring under senior leader and many others. But the fact remains that HiPOs leave organizations and they leave in good numbers.
Let’s take a closer look: A HiPO is one who sets new benchmark of performance in present role and has potential to deliver on a bigger role.
What drives a superlative performance in an employee: hard work, high energy, drive for excellence, achievement orientation, high functional competencies. Perhaps some or all of these but the Highest Common Factor (HCF) that binds all these competencies is PASSION.
Great organizations like P&G, Bayer have lived for more than 150 years because they have employees who live their passion while working with these organizations. When people work passionately, they stretch the performance levels and create new benchmarks. They bring innovation in their work every day and when people pursue their passion, they do not compete, they co-grow. Great organizations promote culture of co-growth by recognizing, rewarding and celebrating them. This creates the ecosystem of innovation which helps build sustainable organizations.
Two thoughts emerge from discussion so far:
1. Passion is the underlying virtue of all factors leading to superlative performance
2. HiPOs, despite knowing their star status, leave organizations
Let’s share the most guarded open secrets:
o an HiPO knows that the star status is not a permanent privilege
o becoming HiPO is a tough job but retaining the position is tougher, an upcoming HiPO is a work-in-progress and do not meet many envy eye-balls but a declared HiPO is a star and has many pullers (equity theory of motivation at work)
o organizations go through ups and downs, Managers keep changing and the focus on HiPOs may fluctuate
With such context in most organizations, it’s the passion of the HiPO that keeps her going. We rarely see or read HiPOs, who are passionate about their work leave organizations. The conclusion then is very clear: keep HiPOs close to their passion, with the rider that the passion should be related to her work or profession and should be of value to organization.
But how do we capture passion of HiPOs at workplace. The best person who can identify a passionate employee at work is her Manager. A passionate employee shows certain streak on-the-job: she would be highly engaged in her job, would toil on the work in which she is passionate, would come up with suggestion/solution alternatives, would take end-to-end ownership of the activity. A trained Manager is able to capture and analyze these behaviors. Moreover, a performance dialogue around over-delivering on a KRA and “What did I do to make it happen” would give lots of insights on the employee’s passion. A passionate employee is a story teller and these stories contain huge emotional underpinning on how she went upstream to make the work happen. This is the core of the passion and capturing “this emotion” is striking gold.
These content of passion needs to captured and discussed in the Talent review of HiPOs. While doing the planned intervention to groom the HiPO, we need to take utmost care to ensure that the HiPO is not taken away from her passion. Moreover, Managers in workplace should be trained to capture the passion, discuss these openly and celebrate these.
We do not work for our career, we build our career around our passion. Take care of her passion and you have retained a HiPO.