High-Potential (Hi-Po) programs, while well intentioned, don’t work in reality. Research shows that they fail to show a meaningful return on investment and can damage engagement and morale. Here are some of the most common reasons why Hi-Po programs are unsuccessful.
Managers elect people into the program for the wrong reasons – To counter perceived flight risks or as an alternative to pay raises, for example
The criteria for participation lacks clarity and consensus - Managers operate under inconsistent assumptions of what “high-potential” means
Managers lack the ability to identify high potentials candidates - Companies end up investing in people who are unlikely to succeed in next level roles
Hi-Po programs are divisive and undermine teams - Those not selected to participate feel demoralized, while the “chosen ones” often feel embarrassed or undeserving
Hi-Po programs are perceived as biased - Millennials, in particular, view Hi-Po programs as inherently inequitable
The majority of High-Potential programs underperform, but the need to engage and develop leaders for the future is critical. Simple succession planning practices, targeted leadership development and intentional access to opportunities and executives are successful alternatives. These strategies are better, more cost effective and less time-intensive for building talent pipelines, developing leaders and increasing morale. To learn more, contact me directly.