4 Steps to Improving Your High-Potential Training Program

This a sign time to re-evaluate your high potential (HiPo) training program.

High-potentials are far more valuable than other high performing employees in driving business success and sustainable value.  Working with high potentials in a HiPo program should be exciting and stimulating. 

So why do more than 50% of participants drop out of HiPo programs?

The biggest problem is identifying the people who really have the potential to lead the organization in the future. Ask a manager to list top performers and then ask them to list those with the most potential. Invariably you will get two nearly identical lists. But the hard truth is that managers don’t have an objective way to measure future potential. They can only tell you who is performing well today and, when considering the future, this just isn’t good enough.

Only about 15% of individuals in HiPo programs have the potential to drive the organization. For the other 85%, the HiPo program is unlikely to deliver what you hope. And worse, an unsuccessful program discourages those 15% of true high potentials who are key to the business.  High potential employees are frequently not easy to manage. They are driven, difficult, will not accept no for an answer. If the HiPo program they are enrolled in does not challenge them and meet their expectations, they won’t waste any more time, but they’ll look for opportunities with competitor organizations who they believe will better recognize their capabilities.

Without having the right HiPo program in place you may be wasting your effort and actively chasing away your best people.

A well-designed HiPo program will deliver you a pipeline of leaders ready to take up key positions in your organization. To ensure your program is successful, incorporate these four steps in your HiPo program design:

1. Articulate the purpose of the HiPo program while setting realistic expectations.

By defining and communicating the program’s purpose, organizations can align participants, sponsors, and stakeholders, fostering a shared understanding of its objectives and benefits. A well-articulated purpose provides clarity and motivation to HiPo participants, ensuring they are aware of why they have been selected and what is expected of them. It also helps manage expectations by setting realistic goals and emphasizing the developmental nature of the program.

To effectively articulate the purpose of a HiPo program, it’s important to start by identifying the key objectives and desired outcomes. These may include accelerating the development of high-potential talent, cultivating a pipeline of future leaders, fostering innovation and creativity, enhancing employee engagement and retention, and driving organizational growth. Once these objectives are defined, it is essential to communicate them clearly and consistently across the organization.

2. Be very clear about what defines “high potential”.

By clearly outlining the criteria and characteristics that determine ‘high potential’, organizations can ensure a fair and objective selection process, as well as provide transparency to participants and stakeholders.

Defining high potential helps identify individuals who demonstrate the capacity to grow, take on higher-level responsibilities, and make a significant impact on the organization’s future success. It enables organizations to focus their developmental efforts and resources on individuals with the greatest potential, maximizing the program’s impact and return on investment. Moreover, clear criteria for high potential create a level playing field, promoting equity and preventing biases in the selection process.

3. Establish objective measures of high potential

This requires a systematic and comprehensive approach. Firstly, organizations should define the key attributes and competencies that align with high potential in their specific context. These may include factors such as exceptional performance, adaptability, leadership potential, learning agility, strategic thinking, and the ability to drive results. By clearly outlining these criteria, organizations can create a framework for evaluating and comparing individuals objectively.

Secondly, it’s important to implement a robust assessment process that incorporates various tools and methods. This can include performance reviews, competency assessments, feedback from supervisors and peers, psychometric assessments, and structured interviews. By utilizing multiple assessment methods, organizations can gather a diverse range of data points to validate and measure high potential objectively.

Something that can really support objectivity within HiPo programs, is the use of psychometric assessments. You can try our assessments on-demand, without commitment, anytime. These assessments will give you a data-led and science-backed insight into your candidates and employees to ensure subjectivity is left at the door.

4. Build a flexible program based on individual need

Making your HiPo program flexible is essential for maximizing the development and growth of high-potential individuals. To achieve this, organizations should make sure the program takes into account the unique strengths, aspirations, and development areas of each participant. This can be accomplished by conducting individual assessments, such as talent reviews, performance evaluations, and career discussions, to gain a deeper understanding of each participant’s needs and goals.

Once individual needs are identified, organizations can tailor developmental activities and resources accordingly. This may involve offering a range of development opportunities, such as job rotations, stretch assignments, mentoring, coaching, training programs, and access to learning resources. By providing a variety of options, participants can select those that align with their specific needs and learning preferences, allowing for a customized and flexible development experience.

Following these four steps will build a HiPo program that will quickly become the bedrock of your talent pipeline. It will improve your understanding of your talent population, increase business development capability and improve engagement in your most promising people.

To really ensure your HiPo program covers all bases, make sure it’s data-led and science-backed – nothing but objectivity – with our psychometric assessments. Take them for a whirl today with our on-demand service.