Based on the survey, a White Paper produced by the school outlines steps that HR and talent management professionals can take to establish an effective high-potential talent identification program. Examples are also provided of firms that have done so successfully, such as IBM where high-potential employees can participate in the company’s Corporate Service Corps — a three-month program where employees are sent to an IBM location to provide pro bono counsel. GE’s high-potential program involves employee-rotation, and is designed to help employees understand the business from different functional and geographical perspectives. The program takes place over two years.
But should high-potential employees be informed that they are considered as such?
Traditionally, executives have erred on the side of caution and kept high-potential lists under wraps, in the hopes of avoiding inflated egos and increased expectations of promotions and salary increases, as well as the fear of employee-poaching by competitors. This may be changing as 58 per cent of respondents to the Leadership Survey said they do tell employees they have been identified as having high potential. The benefits of such transparency include delivering a powerful signal that the organization values their contributions, and believes in them enough to invest in their future.
Identifying and attracting high-potential employees can give organizations an edge on their competition, and set them up for future success. To do so, a formal and systematic approach (as outlined below) should be used, which will not only improve high-potential selection but also increase the perception of fairness and impartiality within the organization, and reduce employee turnover.
- Plan for the future: Understand what the organization will need in the near future, and identify anticipated leadership roles and positions.
- Define high-potential criteria: Review relevant research, defining terminology such as ‘potential’, ‘performance’, ‘readiness’, and ‘fit’ (to ensure a consistent understanding at all organizational levels). Also specify high-potential criteria and attributes for the organization as a whole, and for specific roles and positions in particular.
- Make the high-potential criteria measureable: Utilize different assessment procedures when identifying high-potential employees, such as the ‘decision-makers consensus approach’, in which decision-makers in an organization meet to discuss an employee’s suitability for promotion. Even more sophisticated is the ‘criteria-based approach’ in which criteria has already been established that articulates what the organization is looking for in a high-potential employee.
- Identify high-potential candidates: Once the high-potential criteria is defined and made measureable, candidates can be identified and nominated/selected using structured talent reviews, and be screened and assessed based on the criteria and their performance.
Talent management is now looked upon as a critical HR activity; the discipline is evolving every day. Let’s analyze some trends in the same.
- Talent War: Finding and retaining the best talent is the most difficult aspect of HR management. HR survey consultancies are one in their view that organizations globally are facing a dearth of talented employees and it’s often more difficult to retain them. Further research has also shown that there is clear link between talent issues and overall productivity.
- Technology and Talent Management: Technology is increasingly getting introduced into people development. Online employee portals have become common place in organizations to offer easy access to employees to various benefits and schemes. In addition employees can also manage their careers through these portals and it also helps organizations understand their employees better.
- Promoting Talent Internally: An individual is hired, when there is a fit between his abilities or skills and the requirements of the organization. The next step is enabling learning and development of the same so that he/she stays with the organization. This is employee retention. An enabled or empowered means an empowered organization.
It is also of interest to organizations to know their skills inventories and then develop the right individual for succession planning internally.
- Population Worries Globally: World populations are either young or aging. For example, stats have it that by 2050 60% of Europe’s working population will be over 60! On the other hand a country like India can boast of a young population in the coming and present times. Population demographics are thus a disturbing factor for people managers. Still more researches have predicted that demographic changes in United States will lead to shortage of 10 million workers in the near future!
- Talent Management to rescue HR: HR has been compelled to focus on qualitative aspects equally and even more than quantitative aspects like the head count etc. Through talent management more effort is now being laid on designing and maintaining employee scorecards and employee surveys for ensuring that talent is nurtured and grown perpetually.
- Increase in Employer of Choice Initiatives: An organization’s perceived value as an employer as helps improve its brand value in the eyes of its consumer. Most importantly it helps it attract the right talent.