Identifying and developing your HiPos, the employees who are most likely to make impact on the organization, should be at the top of every organization’s strategic plans. With historically low unemployment and heavy pressure from headhunters/recruiters, your best employees are at high risk of being poached by your competitors every day. By engaging the right employees early, casting a vision for their career progression, and investing in their development, you’re likely to create a stronger talent pool to fill senior leader positions as they become available.
These succession planning efforts not only reinforce the overall bench strength of the organization, but also create a more stable and sustainable organization in the long-term. Consequently, a heavy percentage of overall employee development resources are devoted to the skill development of High Potentials (HiPos). These individuals are considered the rising stars in the organization and (when selected accurately), should have an impressive return on your investment dollars. Surveys estimate that High Potential employees are 91% more valuable in the long-term than non-High Potential employees.
Granted, that assumes that the individuals who have been selected as High Potentials are truly High Potential. Surveys also show that most High Potential programs fail to select the right individuals from the start because they rely too heavily on line-manager nominations and underestimate measuring the core competencies necessary for success. Additionally, the programs themselves fail to engage and excite high potentials who still experience roughly 30% turnover (only slightly higher than a line- or mid-manager) and an even higher failure rate.
Suddenly when we bring all of these highly complex aspects of High Potential identification and development into focus, the case for investing heavily in the programs becomes a bit less clear.
Given that only 5% of your total workforce are truly High Potential, the bulk of the organization (including many frontline and mid-managers) are not receiving the same High-Potential focused development opportunities. This is where we’re failing our organizations. When budgeting for leadership development, if High Potential employees are benefiting from the majority of the resources, then the vast majority of the organization’s frontline leaders aren’t receiving the development they need. Frontline managers have direct leadership responsibilities for approximately 80% of your organization. They are the individuals with the least experience yet highest direct impact.
While a High Potential employee may be 91% more valuable than one non-High Potential employee, one undeveloped line-manager has the reach to create devastating impact through lost productivity, decreased engagement, and higher turnover.
In many organizations frontline managers are responsible for supervising up to 80% of the workforce. So, while High Potentials play an undeniably important role for the future strength and stability of the organization, the development of those high potential employees cannot come at the expense of good overall leadership development across the organization.