Are the People In Your Leadership Program Really HIPOs?

In separate conversations with different clients over the last 6-8 weeks, I’ve heard a couple of themes emerge on challenges the clients face in talent development for their organizations.

In this post, I’ll focus on the first one: Accurate Identification of High Potential Talent (WHO)

Two client organizations have multiple, existing leadership development programs in place. The participants for these leadership development programs are intended to be high potential future leaders. The purpose of the leadership development programs is to prepare future leaders to grow into roles with greater responsibilities over time (ex: 2-3 years), and ensure these individuals have the self-awareness to adjust to the challenges the bigger roles bring.

The issue each client has run into repeatedly is that the participants the business sends to these programs are not actually high potential talent. The participants instead might be someone who:

  • The business leader wants to reward with a special developmental experience
  • Was promised participation as part of a recruiting incentive during the hiring process
  • The leadership is assessing to determine if s/he has a long-term future with the company
  • Is new at their current level and their manager is trying to help them be successful at the next level (ex: recently promoted to VP)

None of the bullets above accurately define a high potential future leader. Therefore, the curriculum for these programs has not been designed to meet these business needs.

When the feedback comes in after the conclusion of the program, HR cannot truly assess the effectiveness of the program. The business is not making a wise investment in its people (the participants), or in the leadership development program as a whole. It’s a mismatch on all fronts.

Here are a few examples of how the talent management industry accurately identifies and defines high potential future leaders:

When it’s done right, the dollars invested in learning and development drive business results. They help your organization actually win the war for talent and serve as a differentiator as part of your employee value proposition.

In a future post, I’ll address the second theme I’ve heard from clients lately: Timing and Integration with Succession Planning (WHEN)

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The timing of when succession planning takes place annually should feed the identification of the participants in the leadership development programs referenced above. But all too often those two HR processes take place independently of one another.

This was originally published on PeopleResult’s Current blog.