HiPo Programme Best Practices to Identifying High Potential Employees

Written by Sheu Quen

8 minute read

HiPo Best Practices

High Potential employees, or HiPo’s, bring great value to their organization. As unique as their contributions are, their needs and demands in any development program are equally as unique. Organizations that take a one-size-fits-all approach do not enjoy the return on investment that HiPo’s can bring. From identification to development, organizations should take a personalized approach to HiPo – it’s now well established that investments into HiPos deliver at least 3x ROI. Here, we explain the 3-step process organizations should take in designing a solid HiPo program.


Your company’s long-term development and success lie in the creation, identification, assessment, and cultivation of your top talents. Poorly created programs having unclear processes can lead to dissatisfaction for the organization and the HiPo. This highlights the necessity of brushing up on the basics as well as continuous testing and polishing of programs to retain and develop HiPos.

Leading companies have an unrelenting focus on the execution of their high-potential strategy and this is reflected in their ability to consistently outperform on key financial metrics compared with their peers. 

The 2014 Aon Hewitt Top Companies for Leaders research found that top companies demonstrated an 18% greater return on assets (ROA) and a 20% greater return on equity (ROE) over five years when compared to other organizations.

These results highlight the critical nature of leadership practices in driving sustainable business outcomes.

HiPo Free guide

Defining High Potential Individuals (HiPos)

HiPo Programme Best Practices
High Potential Best Practices

High potential employees are individuals who always exceed their peer groups in different circumstances and settings. The work they do consistently mirrors your company’s culture and values and the outputs they render are always of superior quality.

They exhibit a solid and evident capacity to develop and succeed throughout the length of their careers inside your company – more rapidly and productively compared to their peers.

HiPos are built upon four inherent and intrinsic characteristics; catalytic learning capability, a drive to exceed expectations, a dynamic sensor that could help them identify opportunities and impediments, and a venturesome spirit.

With this in mind, it is important that organizations first understand the direction of their business and then define what kind of HiPOs they will need to identify to achieve their strategy. HiPo talent’s become a catalyst to your organization’s strategy only if the criteria of measurement you set match the business’s strategic need.

The finest example or epitome of a high-potential profile showcases all four of these inherent characteristics.

Catalytic Learning CapabilityAn individual can formulate and come up with fresh and original ideas instead of working merely with pre-existing procedures and structures. These individuals are quick and efficient learners who can apply and embody their learnings in the creation and improvement of your company’s operations – making the business processes more efficient, effective, and profitable.
A Drive to Exceed ExpectationsThis means the determination of an individual to do more than what is asked for, more than what is expected of him, and more than the bare minimum required. It is willpower that enables this individual to exert his greatest effort and do the best he could do – never settling for just enough, always aiming for a way much more.
A Dynamic SensorA high-potential employee understands that along with new ideas and possibilities, come impending risks and uncertainties. He has a sure instinct that helps him in identifying opportunities or impediments, allowing him to fully grasp certain situations, determine perfect timing, and grab every possible opportunity.
A Venturesome SpiritThis is the ability of a high-potential individual to be sufficiently great with himself and have this great sense of self-worth. Knowing that he has what it takes, he always seeks opportunities that could potentially make a difference in the future and willingly takes risks for the discovery and exploration of new horizons and possibilities. These add up to an individual’s boldness, certainty, and inventiveness.

Understanding the needs of HiPos

High potential employees are ambitious and continuously seek growth. For these exact reasons, these individuals must be given the significant advancement and stretch opportunities that they need. In the nurturing of HiPos, you have to extend past developmental and instructive programs with consideration of the broader effect and benefit of a complete experience. The nurturing of these individuals should not simply focus on expanding their skills and capacity but also:

Needs of High Potential Program
Needs of High Potential Program

Enhancing the programs intended for HiPos require your undivided focus on the six vital areas of consideration that are central to meeting the unique needs and inclination of high potential employees for evident victory.

Charting Career’s DirectionHigh potential employees need and yearn to have a variety of choices and inputs; this basic system can keep them engaged in the long run. They are future-focused and organized, which makes them curious about what’s next in line. Putting this in mind, it is quite obvious that aiding them with a career outline that particularly distinguishes their advancing career progress, development opportunities, and expected tasks will be of great help.
Effective ChallengesProviding frequent and effective challenges to high potential individuals will pave the way for greater learning experiences, which will, in turn, sustain their passion and enthusiasm, as well as quench their thirst for greater achievements.
Boundless Ingress to Self-Paced Advancing ToolsAllowing HiPos to engage in constant challenges, gain additional information & skills, and undertake courses of action at their own pace will assist in the development of their ability to take initiatives.
Honest FeedbackGiving honest and detailed feedback regarding the performance of a high potential employee will help in keeping and maintaining the momentum of a HiPo’s performance.
Constant Exposure with the Higher-UpsYou should always make sure to build an atmosphere that supports intellectual conversations and helpful exchanges between your HiPos and your more experienced and much wiser company executives. The knowledge and wisdom introduced into the young and fresh minds of HiPos will have a profound and invaluable effect not only on the individual but on your company’s growth as well.
Networking OpeningsSolid connections, within as well as outside of your company, will allow high potential employees a conclusive edge — a bigger pool of assets, more prominent access to certain people, and increased influence to explore office legislative issues.

The ultimate key to the creation of absolutely effective programs for high-potential employees is understanding their specific needs and yearnings. Wiring the objectives of these particular programs to their unique expectations and requests will lead to the programs’ purpose effectively and accurately.

HiPo Free guide

Setting Program Objectives

Objectives are necessary components for the success of the HiPo program. It is a vital responsibility for the management to set forth these aims to begin the path for the effective development of the high potential programs. Here are a few tips and tricks in setting the objectives for High Potential Programs:

#1. Plan an Approach

Plan out which approach results in a noteworthy success. Use this 70:20:10 model as a reference

Model Designing High Potential Programs
70:20:10 Model
70% Performance and Practice

Since learning through experience is undeniably useful, always give high potential employees challenging projects and assign them engaging and stimulating tasks that allow them to utilize their actual capacity and harness their full potential. Do not concentrate on overwhelming and exhausting them; this is a wrong path to take, root for their growth and advancement instead.

Identifying High Potential Employees
High potential employees bring great value to their organizations
20% Feedback and Collaboration

Social learning is a method of learning from others. As mentioned earlier, it is the management’s responsibility to create a healthy and constructive intellectual environment for HiPos to communicate with and learn from your experienced company heads. It is clear that you naturally aim to have the best, so let these top talents of yours learn from nothing but the best. Connect HiPos with people who sync with their areas of expertise, and you will reap significant rewards. Coaching and mentoring your employees is more necessary than just assessing their performance.

10% Formal Learning

Formal learning can take the form of coursework or training, and it is the most widely known method of learning. It involves the provision of tools such as manuals to make learning easier. This must be considered the foundation or starting line from which the other 90% of the learning pie discussed previously can progress.

In a world where everybody has access to colossal amounts of data, your employees have to learn more effectively. Modern learning approaches like the 70:20:10 model can offer assistance in making HiPo Programs for your company. The 70:20:10 approach offers benefits like adaptability, learning synergies, and engagement. These benefits are basic components for making high-performance representatives.

#2. Set Objectives:

  • To develop and enhance the capability of the high potentials.
  • To create talent-fit coaching.
  • To specialize in leadership improvement paths.
  • To provide boundless learning opportunities.
  • To have in-depth knowledge in controlled circumstances.
  • To allow growth from newly experienced learnings.
  • To learn how to lead, not how to dictate.
  • To enhance flexibility and management.
  • To immerse in an advanced and modernized tool.
  • To put the learnings into action

3. To justify the program, you may ask these questions:

ask me questions Designing High Potential Programs

In Conclusion

Companies confront challenges when overseeing their high-potential employees. Remarkably, the evaluation of the employee’s potential commitment within the company’s future is the primary goal. Companies ought to lean toward the development of their employees instead of merely replacing them with new hires, as well as the creation of a corporate culture of advancement where the management of high-potential employees belong to its top priorities and responsibilities. Implementing these essential measures cannot and must not be ignored and taken for granted. Hence, it must be included in the implementation and execution of corporate procedures.

Related queries

What is a high potential employee development?

High potential employee development refers to a deliberate and structured process designed to identify and nurture employees who demonstrate the potential to become future leaders within an organization. The goal is to maximize the potential of these individuals and help them grow into key contributors and leaders within the organization.

What is the difference between high potential employees versus high performing employees?

High potential employees are individuals who have been identified as having the ability and potential to take on leadership positions within an organization in the future. High performing employees, on the other hand, are individuals who consistently exceed expectations in their current roles and demonstrate exceptional job performance. 

How can a company retain its high potential employees?

To retain high potential employees, companies should provide challenging and meaningful work, growth and development opportunities, a clear career path, competitive compensation and benefits, and foster a positive and supportive workplace culture. This includes investing in training and development programs, offering regular feedback and recognition, promoting work-life balance, and creating a sense of community and belonging among employees.

Who is a high potential talent in a company?

High potential talent refers to individuals within an organization who have the potential to succeed in future leadership roles. They are identified through talent assessments and are provided with development programs, mentoring, coaching, and stretch assignments to acquire the necessary skills and experiences.

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