We have identified our HiPos, now what? We come back to the question.

If the HiPo programs are not managed effectively, they can have collateral damage by de-motivating not only the HiPo employees but also those that aren’t tabbed as one.

Here are some pitfalls that can de-rail a HiPo program:

  1. Not knowing what to do with your HiPos: Sounds strange? But there are organizations that have no clue of what to do with their HiPos. They were identified because there was a Corporate Program or the company CEO wanted to start a HiPo program or simply because it is good to have a HiPo program! Unless there is total clarity on what the organization wants to do with their HiPo, they are better off not having one.  A clear organization mandate and support from all levels of management across the organization for a HiPo program is a must to ensure its success.
  2. Not telling them that they are HiPos. There are divided views on this but my view is whether you tell them or you don’t, they know it. Telling them reduces the risk of attrition significantly according to one study, so why not tell them?
  3. Making it a lifetime status. I have had managers come back to me arguing for retaining their previous year’s HiPos in the current year’s list irrespective of their performance because they were afraid of losing them if we did not. It is important to let the HiPos know that this status has to be earned every single year through sustained performance. Organizations that fail to do this end up frustrating the HiPos as well as the others.
  4. Lack of a clear career path for the HiPo. This is like playing a game not knowing if there will be a winner and how the winner will be decided. A clear career path has to be shown to the identified HiPo. The end goal may be a few years down the line but it is important for them know where they are headed as well as the journey towards the end goal. These must be discussed and mutually agreed.
  5. Lack of learning supports. A critical aspect to the success of an accelerated talent pool is the inputs they receive on their development. The selection process, if rigorous, would have thrown up their development needs. A clear development plan that is time bound with clearly identified outcomes will go a long way in making the HiPos successful. This not only equips them with the skills to do well but is also a great confidence booster. A mentor who can guide them through their ups and downs in their leadership journey is another critical part of their development.

This comment from Jim Kauffman, Sr Consultant DDI sums it all up, “You may spend hours creating a list of 100 HiPos but if you don’t develop them through key job assignments, leadership training exercises or by pairing them with mentors, it’s just a list of names”.

Create the right visibility – this helps keep them motivated as well as serves as a benchmark for other aspirants.