Identifying a High Potential

March 23, 2021, by: fbgconsulting

IDENTIFYING A HIPO (High Potential) by FBG Consulting

You feel your employee has potential… but do you know
Potential FOR WHAT?
How far they can rise successfully?
How fast they can go?
How ready they are?
What can you do to fast track their development?

You might have spotted the person when they made a memorable comment at a staff meeting, the fact that they’re so comfortable making zoom presentations regardless of the levels in the call or because they’re “always knocking at your door” for opportunities. There’s just something about them that makes you think they’re truly a “hipo”.

You sit there and wonder how you can be sure. After all development money is limited and stretch assignments are not that common. As a result, it will be critical to define if the individual that “appears” to have potential truly possess the ability, performance, engagement and aspiration to fit that category. You certainly need to assess if the ROI will be evident and surely don’t want to make the mistake of assigning someone a task that leads them to fail. Only after verifying potential should you move on with investing in them and taking the risk of assigning them growth opportunities.

My recommendation is that you have purposeful and frequent interactions with these individuals to get to know them better and measure their aspiration. Assign them small growth tasks, allow them to make part of a presentation, see them execute in crisis or new situations. Ask them their opinion about challenges and how to mitigate risks. This will allow you to better know how they could do in the future.

Your objective should be to validate their ability to ensure not only that the knowledge and experience are there to execute the requirements of the future roles, but also to understand their competencies, leadership and executive behavior. It will be important to identify if they can continue growing or if they may be close to their “accomplished potential”.

Clearly, performance is not potential – but a second step is assessing their performance. This is not just about the “what and how” of the execution of their job responsibilities against target and organizational objectives. You should understand if they have the capability of pushing forward and how much roadway they may have ahead of them. Some people are performing well but are already executing at the top of their capacity with no more space for growth. However high potentials will generally be performing well and have the capacity to do so at more complex roles. Certainly, performance will come having a good standing, consistent execution, foresight, representing well the organizational strategy, being organizationally compliant and having market savvy.

Not less critical is measuring the person’s aspiration to move forward and succeed, because surely there is no sense investing in someone who doesn’t possess the desire to work for self-development. The same applies to ensuring engagement, since if the individual has no trust in the organization, commitment, value and belief in the job, the brand and the company, a motivation, cultural fit and a strong organizational tie it’s unlikely they will stay for a long time.

Organizations struggle with recognizing that they may not have a strong “bench”, but that is an important part in taking the right actions because the most important action will be the one you take today.

The only way to ensure adequacy of resources to accomplish the business goals is to know the talent that you need measured against the talent you have. You will need to start with the premise that everyone has potential for something. The trick is defining potential for what, level of readiness, their gaps and what you can do about that.