Designing Strategic High Potential Programs

In today’s environment of talent shortages and leadership gaps, having a High Potential Program reduces the risk of top talent leaving


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Designing Strategic High Potential Programs

In today’s environment of talent shortages and leadership gaps, having a High Potential Program reduces the risk of top talent leaving, results in better financials, allows mission critical positions to be filled, produces a higher level of leadership performance, improves brand loyalty and employee engagement for job satisfaction and career growth, and provides opportunity for high potentials to fill successor positions when needed.

However, a High Potential Program that is not planned and executed properly has devastating effects on employee morale, engagement, and overall goal execution.

Working with key leadership and stakeholders in your organization to flesh out answers to the questions below will provide an approach to developing a High Potential Program Strategy that is designed for success, sustainability, and strategic alignment.

What is the business case for this program?

What problems will this solve?
Who owns the problem?
Why does this problem exist?
What strategic business goal is tied to this problem?
How is the process linked to the business strategy and culture?
How is the process communicated?

What role does senior management play in the process?

What is the senior leader role?
What resources are allocated?
How will others be held accountable?
Are all leaders committed?
What is the development budget for this year and over the development period?

What is the selection process?

What is the criteria for determining a high potential?
How do you ensure fairness in the selection process?
How do you recruit and select candidates?
How many should be in the pool?
Who’s eligible?
What are the eligibility criteria?
Do high potentials know that they have been targeted?

What is the development process?

When does the development process start?
Who completes a career profile?
Who completes a career development plan?
How is the potential for career growth identified?  (Current and future)
What development activities are available for each high potential?

What are the supportive roles?

How are managers trained to support high potential development?
Who provides the high potential with coaching?
When is the first career development discussion?
Who’s involved in the calibration discussions?

What metrics indicate success of the high potential program?

How is the program monitored?  Who is involved?
How are high potentials progress tracked and monitored?
How will you evaluate the success of the program?

What are the rewards and recognition for program participation and success?

How will participants be rewarded?
How will internal candidates be identified for internal recruitment opportunities?

About the author: Patricia Dammann is one of the Lead Facilitators at the Institute of Organization Development. She can be reached at

Additional information: This topic is covered in the Leadership Development Certification Program. If you would like to learn more or register for the Leadership Development Program at the Institute of Organization Development, please click on the relevant links below.

Image: dollarphotoclub/cacaroot


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