Article: Role of HiPos in the age of Robotics and AI

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Role of HiPos in the age of Robotics and AI


What can organizations do to compliment technological advancements with HiPo development strategies and its changing roles?
Role of HiPos in the age of Robotics and AI

Is your HiPo identification program aligned to business goal? How do you see the talent development strategy re-shaping amidst the induction of AI, Robotics and other cognified systems?

As a leader, we keep probing the answers to these vital questions. And while we talk about talent strategy in the era of rapid cognification, an uncanny feeling crops up on how to manage our high potential employees. What shall be done so that the advancing technology on AI and Robotics complements the growth of our high potential employees?

Organizations are being challenged to identify and bring clarity in defining the career path for high-potential (HiPo) employees. The role of such talent pool is questioned in respect to the growing tech disruptions happening all around. Hence, leaders need to create higher intensity relevance for the sustenance of this talent pipeline as high-potential have always been strong contenders navigating business values and output to the core.

Here are the three areas that need to be taken care of when it comes to re-aligning the role of HiPos in the age of rising technology:

HiPos need to adapt to changes brought in by AI

With the implementation of AI, most of the routine tasks will be taken away by technology. However, there seems to be a surge in expected hiring numbers. A recent research report suggests that 86% of employers plan to maintain or increase their headcount in the next two to three years.  But the not-so-good news is that 73% of the companies are set to shrink their HR teams and employers are anticipating a significant churn due to rising skill gap.

This has created an uncanny pressure on HiPos as they will need to adapt to tech changes much faster than expected. Their skills will have to be sharpened quicker to drive in more efficient transformation in their roles and jobs. While robots will take the mundane tasks away, the role of HiPos will become even more crucial as they will have to leverage their new skills for driving in the right adaptation strategy for propelling growth much faster as compared to what is being achieved today.

AI to bring in a new set of skills for HiPos

Various components of AI - machine learning, robotics and other cognified systems have re-jigged the relevance of identifying high potential hires. HiPos will now be determined on the basis of ‘learnability quotient' - the desire and ability to develop in-demand skills for a longer term. 

HiPos will be evaluated less on what they already know but more about their ability and capacity to learn.  And digital skills will remain one of the most sought-after skills for HiPos. While 80% of leadership capabilities remain the same, a new style of leadership will be required for this digital age HiPos. And this includes - adaptability, drive, and endurance; the three pillars that will stand out to define the new skill set for HiPos in this changing role.

Robots will take away ‘tasks', not jobs; use technology to upskill HiPos

Let the machine (AI) take over all transactional worries of HiPos. Use technology to enhance the relevance of HiPo Development Programs.

As per a research done by CEB, average firm spends 27% of its L&D  budget on HiPo program, and two-thirds of companies divert budget away from other talent investments to fund HiPo initiatives. Unfortunately, only 24% of HR leaders consider their HiPo strategy to be an overall success after spending a significant chunk of their budget. 

On the other hand, most organizations rely on managers as their primary source for developing HiPos. And they often fail to provide them with the right tools required in this age of AI and robotics. While some managers are naturally good coaches, most are not - which leaves learning and development to happen on its own. AI and Robotics will help solve this problem. Make use of technology to complement your HiPo initiatives in the following ways:

  • Use AI and robotics to reduce unconscious biases of identifying and managing HiPos. 

  • Get the flavors of faster and effective communication by using chatbots and other AI tools in your HiPo initiatives.

  • Technology can bring in a lot of benefits of an effective real-time feedback mechanism for all HiPo development programs.

  • Leverage AI to create a metrics-based reporting to track the ROI efficiently. 

Time to relook, review and re-align HiPo programs 

Leaders need to re-jig talent management strategy for HiPos with the changing role and landscape of technology. There is a need to re-think on a more coherent talent management strategy that must aim at identifying, shepherding and nurturing HiPos at all levels in context to AI and robotics. The research data already suggests that 73% of high-potential programs fail to yield business outcomes. One of the probable reasons of this may be attributed to a design flaw - the programs may not have been designed in a way that maps to the changing organization's business eco-system in respect to AI and robotics. 

Mostly the HiPo development programs have the "one-size-fits-all" approach. With the augment of technology, structuring the development activities tailored to specific needs of HiPos can be achieved to a greater extent. And you can maximize their readiness for advancement thereby improving the strength of your succession pipeline.

As Marshall Goldsmith says, "What got you here, will not get you there! So, the HiPo programs every year needs to be re-looked and evolve. Progressive companies review their HiPo initiatives on an annual basis to guarantee that it best fits the needs, preferences, and priorities of participants with respect to the ecosystem as a whole. And this also ensures that we don't lose our high potential employees to other competitors. 

Use technology to seek for an effective structure that shows HiPos how to learn and what to learn during tech adaptations. Manage the communication channel effectively through chatbots and AI tools for driving the HiPo community and the broader workforce. Support HiPos to channelize their entrepreneurialism in the world of AI and help them nurture learnability, through accelerated performances by resetting expectations of HiPo's wish list.

Image Source: Collective Evolution

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Topics: Technology, #HIPO, #HiPoWeek

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