If you have actually identified those employees at your organization who have potential (see last week’s blog) then you may have realized that managing and growing that potential can be challenging.  We are looking at a study outlined by Harvard Business Review and conducted by Fernandez-Araoz, Groysberg, and Nohria to learn how to retain our high potential workforce.  After you have defined who those high potentials are, you must create a plan for keeping them and maximizing their abilities.

It is not enough to simply replicate another program for high potentials – if it were that easy we would have created that widget long ago.  Instead, it is vital to examine your organization’s goals and strategy and then align your program accordingly.  The authors of this study conducted an analysis of GE graduates who went on to become CEOs elsewhere.  While they all went through a rigorous development program at GE – this did not guarantee success.  There were those who excelled and were a great asset to their new organizations, but some were miserable failures.  The commonality to success were organizations that were a strong strategic, organizational, and industry fit.

Therefore, if you are a non-profit in the service industry you may target people who are high on soft skills as well as best business practices.  In contrast, if your strategy is to grow your business by increased sales or production you may focus on people who are highly disciplined and results-oriented.

This strategic focus must be a driving force behind your high potential identification and growth program.  No off-the-shelf model will do, other than to serve as a baseline or non-example.  Another significant driving force must be senior management.  This is not a task left to HR alone, without guidance, input and buy-in from senior management the whole program is at risk.

In our next blog we will talk about identifying candidates for your program.  But if you haven’t carefully aligned your strategy to this program, or taken a look at strategy, see our past blogs for strategy development and implementation.