High potentials (HiPOs) have always been a focus of discussions for many organizations. There are several questions which haunt the Learning and Organization Development Managers like, how to identify high potentials; how to develop them; and most importantly, in the era of choices, how to retain such high potential. So how does it all happen?
Being a part of sports fanatic family, I often draw my inspiration for people development ideas from sports. It often amazes me how sports like cricket, football, Basketball etc. tap on the potential of seemingly ordinary people and develop them to achieve extra ordinary goals for themselves and for the teams/clubs.
Football clubs are the biggest case study on HiPOs development. A large part of focus of Managers of the clubs is to identify HiPOs, tap into their potential and achieve season victory. So how can organizations use this analogy?
Scouting for Talent
Just like a Football club, there is a need to spend a large amount of time on scouting for the HiPOs within the organization. This is when a robust performance management system comes to play. Whether it’s the bell curve, quarterly based reviews or mid-year reviews.
The Supervisors, Top Management and especially Organization Development, teams need to act as scouts and gather information on who are the HiPOs and why. While doing this, the teams have to constantly keep in mind that identifying a HiPO is a future based exercise and not past based. While supervisor feedbacks are important, they tend to dwell more on the past. Therefore, tools like competency assessments centers, 16 PF (Personality Factor test), FIRO - B, MBTI help gauge career drive, the ability to learn, leadership and result orientation potential.
Developing the Talent
Just like the Football Managers have specialized development plans for their future star performers, organizations also need to treat HiPO development separately. It has to match with future vision and mission of the organization. The individual plan should clearly lay out what we are looking for each and every HiPOs; do we want him/her to be defender, attacker, simply a goal keepers.
A 4 E approach devised by Right Management is a great tool to have balanced development plan consisting of Experience – 50% , Exposure – 25% and Education – 25% followed by Effectiveness.
HiPOs are the future stars and during their development, some of them already start showing results and get highlighted in the industry. In this view retention becomes a challenge.
This is when two things play a great role in motivating them to stay:
a) Differential Compensation Structures - Laszlo Bock, SVP, People Operations at Google in his book Work Rules talks about how it’s ok to pay best to the best; ultimately our HiPOs are the ones who are going to get us to our vision and mission. We as HR often shy away from paying unfairly, however, we all know they are worth more than the rest and let’s face it if we don’t pay.
b) A Clear Growth Path- The millennial HiPOs are restless and they want to know where they will be headed in an organization and if it’s worth it for them to stay. A discussion on clear and transparent growth path (a least for 5 years) helps in alignment of their inner aspirations with organization and make them realize that their potential is not going to unnoticed.
Apart from leadership development, Identifying and developing the HiPOs should be a critical focus for OD teams. The HiPOs, if groomed right and retained at the right time, aid the organization’s reach greater heights.
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