Is your definition of high potential really working for your organisation?

Potential for what? 4 Questions to ask about your High Potential programme
1st June 2018

Kate Sobczak

By Kate Sobczak, Principle Consultant

Research tells us that the 5% highest performing employees in a business contribute to more than 26% of its productivity and output (O’Boyle & Aguinis, 2012) yet 68% of companies with a high-potential programme say the programme is not very effective (DDI, 2017).  So what questions should we be asking ourselves?

1.    What are we trying to achieve?

You need to be clear on what you mean by high-potential
–    i.e. ‘potential’ for what? Are they future strategic leaders, strong people managers, creatives or technical experts, etc.? Once you know what you’re looking for, you can decide how you can best measure these criteria.

2.    Are we measuring potential or just current performance?

Research by Silzer and Church (2009) shows that potential is comprised of cognitive skills, certain personality characteristics, motivation and learning capability. Are you focusing on the future and assessing all these elements or simply relying on appraisal results?Below is how Cubiks defines these essential underlying qualities, in relation both to early and experienced talent.

3.    How can we ensure the nomination and assessments are objective and lead to a diverse talent pool?

Line manager nominations and opinions can be subject to bias, so it’s much better to use valid assessments and multiple methods to gather rich data. You can use quick and objective online assessments to improve the nomination process and then invest in live assessments with a smaller population to help them identify their strengths and development areas prior to or as an element of the programme. Combining an ability test, personality questionnaire, aspiration interview, 360 feedback and business simulations will offer an objective and holistic picture of individuals.
Many high potential programmes focus on developing participants’ network, knowledge sharing and cultural experience, bringing people together for some of the assessment and development activities.

4.    Are we measuring the success of our high potential programme?

A high potential programme is there to support those with the most promise to deliver (or accelerate) that promise for your organisation. But how do you know if it is helping? As well as asking for feedback from your stakeholders you can track business and people metrics over time and link it to assessment data. Talk to us about the data you are gathering, and our people analytics team can help you analyse your results.

To hear more about how we help you identify and develop your high potentials, please get in touch