A New Approach for Developing High Potential Employees

CoachHub · 18 July 2022 · 3 min read

Every organization has high potential employees―sometimes referred to as “HIPOs,”―who the organization hopes will form a core part of the future leadership and workforce. They’re a group that tends to disproportionately outperform their peers, and they leave every employer with two broad challenges:

  • Realization of that potential: Developing talent typically through targeted professional development.
  • Employee retention: A critical problem when competitors are constantly on the lookout for key people to poach with tempting offers. High potential employees have more options when it comes to career mobility, causing 25% of them to leave (CEB, 2016 Beyond the HIPO Hype) with an immediate cost of up to twice their salary, not to mention the hassle it introduces.

High potential employee realization and retention are real and complex problems for employers. As HIPOs  are typically trusted with a great deal of responsibility on high priority projects, 86% of them turn out to be at risk of burnout (Global Leadership Forecast, 2021). And despite organizations putting effort into high potential programs, only 11% of organizations are very satisfied with the returns they get from them (Korn Ferry, 2019). Coaching has a particular role to play in supporting both of these critical objectives.

How and why to utilize digital coaching for HIPOs

Delivering coaching to high potential employees provides a personalized opportunity for them to develop skills in the right areas to add the most value to the organization. By giving them a pathway to increase their abilities and improve their performance, you can also increase the chances that the individual will earn the rewards offered at your organization, potentially keeping hold of them for longer.

Alongside that, delivering coaching to those who manage HIPOs enables them to lead better, overcoming negative biases and enabling opportunities for the HIPOs to grow and learn in an environment of psychological safety.

It matters even more than we might think. If it’s true that 80% of an organization’s output comes from 20% of its employees, it stands to reason that those 20% will sit in the HIPO bracket. Investing in an environment that serves them will benefit the organization directly through results, and indirectly through the positive influence they have on their colleagues.

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Changing mindsets, changing results

High potential employees often suffer higher levels of stress. They have to cope with their employer’s (justifiably) high expectations, and they also want and need to focus on developing the skills that will help them succeed in a future role. This is exacerbated for those in a succession planning scheme. Sound familiar?

This cycle can sometimes demand a change in mindset. HIPOs are not necessarily always going to be the highest performing colleagues; promoting the highest performing technical expert might seem logical until both they leave for an equivalent job that doesn’t include people management, and the actual HIPOs leave for an opportunity in which they get it.

The answer is clear: set high potential employees up for success from the very start of their leadership career. Invest as much in their leadership development as you would for your senior leaders. In other words: democratize coaching. But this is easier said than done. Spotting them is half the battle.

Getting help

Thankfully, there is a solution. Offering coaching to every employee would be one extremely good approach. ile incurring an initial faith-led cost, coaching has been shown over and over again to demonstrate its value and clear return on investment. For those more concerned with short-term finances, targeted coaching at people managers to foster those environments is a great tool to maximize the likelihood of HIPOs being spotted and supported to achieve their potential.

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CoachHub is the leading global talent development platform that enables organizations to create a personalized, measurable and scalable coaching program for the entire workforce, regardless of department and seniority level. By doing so, organizations are able to reap a multitude of benefits, including increased employee engagement, higher levels of productivity, improved job performance and increased retention. CoachHub’s global pool of coaches is comprised of over 3,500 certified business coaches in 90 countries across six continents with coaching sessions available in over 60 languages, to serve more than 500 clients. Our programs are based on advanced R&D from our Coaching Lab, led by Prof. Jonathan Passmore and our Science Council. CoachHub is backed by leading tech investors, including Sofina, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Molten Ventures, Speedinvest, HV Capital, Partech and Silicon Valley Bank/SVB Capital. In September 2021, CoachHub acquired French digital coaching pioneer MoovOne to build a global champion focused on jointly democratizing coaching. CoachHub is committed to creating a greener future and is a certified carbon neutral company since 2022.
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