We have identified High Potentials (HiPo) in our organization, now what? Excellent!! You have crossed the first hurdle. But hang on! Have you identified the real HiPos? While it is difficult to draw a line that distinguishes a HiPo from a high performer, here are some differences I think can help. Let us first understand who the high performers are. Some of the characteristics of high performers are:

– These individuals consistently exceed expectations

– They are role models for others in terms of performance, company values, behaviour, etc.

– They are highly dependable

– They work seamlessly across organization boundaries

– They are confident and knowledgeable

The HiPos, by and large, come out of the high performer talent pool. So the first step in identifying your HiPos will be to check if they all are your high performers. What distinguishes a HiPo from a high performer?

If you can answer the following questions with a confident yes about an individual, then you know that s/he is a HiPo.

– If I have a major customer escalation, can I trust this person to douse the fire?

– If there is a sudden surge in demand, will this person be able to manage the surge effectively?

– If there is a Greenfield project coming up, will I be able to rely on this person to kick-start it with minimal supervision?

– Can this person handle a major re-structuring in the company?

– Can this person be deployed on an assignment that is very different from his past experience?

In other words, is she a quick learner?

The process of identifying a HiPo is a not an easy task. It requires a serious commitment from the top, an ability to look beyond the immediate operational pressures and focus on long term priorities. Else, it ends up becoming an “elite club” membership that “anyone” can gate crash into.

The next step is how do we nurture these HiPos? (My next blog article)