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Develop an Impactful High-Potential Program

A high-potential program is greater than the sum of its parts.

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  • Bob Bilsborough, Chief Human Resources Officer, SKYGEN
  • Sara Canaday, Leadership Keynote Speaker, Award-winning Author and Consultant, Sara Canaday & Associates
  • Reagan Carnegie, Senior Director, Culture and Learning, Finastra
  • Mark Dickinson, Global Head/VP of Human Resources, Phillips Medical Systems
  • Lisa Downs, President Owner, New Aspect Coaching
  • Frederick Dubose, Executive Talent Acquisition Officer, Houston Airport Services
  • Adam Goldman, Vice President, Human Resources, Cacique, Inc
  • Tammy Heermann, Founder, Tammy Heermann Consulting
  • Lorie Hunchak, Director People Development, BCI
  • Rob Kaiser, President, Kaiser Leadership Solutions
  • Suzan Khatcherian, Senior Director, Learning Solutions, McLean & Company
  • Susanne Latimer, Manager of HR Leadership, Bruce Power
  • Ian MacRae, Author, Head of Workplace Psychology, Clear Review
  • Lisa Mikkelsen, Head of Global Human Capital, Flourish Ventures
  • Colleen O’Brien, Vice President, Self-Management Assessments
  • Nicholas Phillips, Principal, Acorn Consulting
  • Rupa Popat, Principal, Talent & Performance, Finastra
  • Jennifer Waxman, Director Research & Advisory, McLean & Company
  • Laurie Xiang, Learning and Development Lead, York Region
  • Organizations often struggle to define potential. In fact, many organizations confuse high performance with high potential.
  • A lack of clarity around the hi-po definition leads to the wrong people being identified and development being targeted inappropriately.
  • This misguided framework results in organizations investing in the wrong employees in ineffective ways.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • The success of a hi-po program is based on the sum, not one individual part – they all work together to create the program.
  • Purposefully design a hi-po program that consistently identifies and develops the right people, helping achieve their aspirations and organizational goals from start to finish.

Impact and Result

  • Avoid the common pitfalls of a hi-po program by developing a formalized program that realizes the full benefits of high-potential employees.
  • Ensure the program delivers its purpose by defining high-potential as it relates to the organization, identifying assessment methods that successfully assess for that definition, creating a development framework that helps hi-po employees achieve their potential, and finally regularly evaluating and iterating the program to align with needs of the organization.

Research & Tools

3. Outline high-potential development

Select program format, outline timelines, development framework and define next steps for hi-pos.

4. Plan to support and implement the program

Align hi-po program with other HR programs, communicate the program, and implement.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a seven call advisory process.

Guided Implementation #1 - Define high-potential

Call #1 - Define high-potential and participant outcomes.
Call #2 - Evaluate program transparency level and set goals and metrics.

Guided Implementation #2 - Select assessment methods

Call #1 - Determine scope of assessments methods
Call #2 - Review selected assessment methods.

Guided Implementation #3 - Outline high-potential development

Call #1 - Interpret development assessment results to outline development program.
Call #2 - Review learning methods and determine next steps for hi-pos once the program concludes.

Guided Implementation #4 - Plan to support and implement the program

Call #1 - Decide on roll-out method and plan for program communication and training.

Onsite Workshop

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Onsite workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Define High-Potential

The Purpose

  • Collect organizational information to inform hi-po definitions and participant outcomes.
  • Determine the appropriate level of transparency for the organization.
  • Define program goals and metrics.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • A unique hi-po definition.
  • Participant outcomes that fulfill the needs of the organization.
  • Needs analysis and program constraints defined.
  • Program goals and metrics.




Review organizational information and program constraints

  • Organizational information and the current state of inclusion are reviewed

Define hi-po and participant outcomes

  • Hi-po definition and participant outcomes are created

Determine level of transparency

  • Level of transparency for the program is selected

Set program goals and metrics

  • Goals and metrics for the hi-po program are set

Module 2: Determine Scope of Assessments

The Purpose

  • Outline selection into the hi-po program, including the scope of selection assessments, the amount of hi-potentials selected, and the cadence of selection.
  • Outline development in the hi-po program by determine the scope of development assessments.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Selection into the hi-po program is defined.
  • The scope of development assessments is set.




Determine scope of selection assessments

  • Scope of selection assessments is set

Define how many hi-po employees will be selected

  • Number/percentage of hi-po employees are determined

Outline cadence for selection

  • Cadence of selection is established

Determine scope of development assessments

  • Scope of development assessments is set

Review key criteria to evaluate assessments

  • Key criteria is reviewed to evaluate assessments

Module 3: Select Assessments

The Purpose

  • Choose the selection assessments and determine the baseline thresholds for the assessments.
  • Select assessments for development.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Selection and development assessments are chosen.
  • Baseline thresholds for selection assessments are determined.




Select assessment(s) for selection

  • Selection assessments are chosen

Determine baseline threshold for selection assessments

  • Baseline threshold for selection assessments is set

Select assessment(s) for development

  • Development assessments are selected

Adjust program constraints

  • Program constraints are adjusted according to the assessments selected, if necessary

Module 4: Determine the Structure of the Program

The Purpose

  • Review program format options and select the most appropriate one for the organization.
  • Determine amount of time dedicated to development and the program duration.
  • Build a development framework that achieves the needs of the hi-po program.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Program format is established.
  • Time dedicated to development and the program duration is set.
  • Development framework is built according to the needs of your organization.




Select program format

  • Program format is outlined

Outline time dedicated to development and program duration

  • Time dedicated to development and program duration are determined

Outline the development framework for hi-pos

  • Development framework for hi-po employees is selected

Define next steps for hi-pos after program concludes

  • Next steps for hi-po employees after the program are defined

Module 5: Roll Out

The Purpose

  • Review HR programs and any adjustments that must be made to incorporate the hi-po program.
  • Assess the different roll out options to determine the best approach.
  • Determine an action and communication plan.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • HR programs are examined to determine any adjustments that need to be made because of the hi-po program.
  • Rollout method is selected and action and communication plans are set.




Identify HR program integration points

  • A plan to integrate the hi-po program into other HR programs is defined

Decide on program rollout

  • Program rollout method is determined

Develop action and communication plan

  • Action and communication plan