It’s one thing to identify a high potential employee on your team.
It’s another thing to keep that person engaged!Many HR professionals are very focused on the need to create a strong pipeline of reliable talent to fill senior leadership positions in the future.
Building bench strength is one of the key topics being discussed by Human Resource professionals in many of the organizations with whom we work. We are hearing things like:
- Our entire senior leadership team is 5-7 years away from potential retirement. We need to seriously focus on developing the leaders that are going to fill their shoes.
- We don’t have a large number of ‘titled’ leadership positions to dangle in front of high potentials. How do we keep them engaged, learning and driving for that leadership position that might not exist for another few years?
- We know we need to focus on ‘next level leadership’, we just aren’t sure how to do this efficiently and effectively.
These sentiments align with some global research conducted by DDI which is touted as “one of the most expansive leadership research projects ever conducted…summarizing dozens of practical, evidence-based recommendations for critical business issues.”
Here are some highlights:
- The two top challenges identified by c-executive leaders for their organizations future success was developing "next gen" leaders (64%) and failure to attract/retain top talent (60%).
- Only 35% of HR professionals rated their organization’s bench strength as falling between slightly strong and very strong.
- 50% of HR professionals say their organization does not have well-integrated and strategically aligned leadership development programs or processes and 35% say they don’t have a high potential development program at all.
- A gap exists between leaders rating the overall quality of organizations leadership as high (42%), and HR professionals rating of 30% on same question.
- Companies on average spend over $4,000 and 39 hours on development activities per high potential leader however they don’t necessarily measure the effectiveness of their efforts.
- Conventional view, that high potential pool should only consist of 3-5% of the overall leadership population pool within the company, is not supported by the research - research shows that companies that designated 32% of leaders as their high potentials tend to be more effective and companies that develop high potentials below senior levels are 4.2 times more likely to outperform other companies that don’t do the same.
How can you create a strong high potential development program?
Purposeful companies outperform the market by 42%. So, what can you do to get purposeful about your high potential leadership development program?
Here are some ideas from companies who are doing it well:
- Formal Development Plans – put it in writing. Identify skills, traits, experience that will make a person successful in a ‘next level’ role and then identify opportunities for the person to gain these experiences and showcase their talents. Your job is to provide them with the right information and direction, their job is to take the initiative and responsibility to drive toward their goals. And if they are truly a high potential…they will!
- Coaching – 1:1 coaching gives them an unbiased perspective to support them driving their own career direction and decisions and work on their interpersonal and communication skills.
- Cohort programs – bring small groups of high potentials together from different areas of the organization. This is a place they can share their struggles, challenges, successes and learn from each other. It’s also a place they can start to build relationships with leaders they will be working with in the future.
- Mentorship – connect them with people who have walked the path in the organization for support and guidance on areas specific to your org and industry.
- Sponsorship – a sponsor is different from a mentor. A sponsor will give a person very specific organizational feedback and direction, connect them with the right people and opportunities, and give them candid feedback on the behaviour that is moving them in the right direction or perhaps detracting from their success.
Treating high potentials as the investment they are is good for the long-term success, sustainability and profitability of your company.
You will spend hours and dollars investing in a new product or service that you hope will create long term success for your organization.
Investing in the future leaders of your organization should get the same level of focus, time and investment.
If you need help setting up a strong program, riddled with accountability and support, check out Epiphany’s Coaching Management System.
It’s an end-to-end solution to manage the high potential Coaching Program for the HR sponsor and the high potential’s we coach.
Read about it in our Leadership Methodology Guide Here: