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High Potentials: 6 Components For Finding and Keeping Them

Ian Cameron May 13, 2014 11:07:00 AM

A-Level_TalentEvery organization wants to find and keep high potentials (HiPos). They’re the future of the company. Born leaders who will pull the rest of the employees to new frontiers. But if everybody wants them, how do you make sure your company gets them?

One big way is to create a corporate culture that will draw them in and keep them once they arrive. There are six key components to look at when creating a culture that attracts and retains HiPos.

Before you start digging into the six components, though, take a moment and define what a high potential looks like in your organization. It’s not the same everywhere and the person who succeeds at a competitor is not necessarily going to be a star in your company. Once you’ve identified the traits for success, you can start to look at how you create a culture that caters to those traits.

The Harvard Business Review posted an article in (May 2013) what explored that it called Six Components of a Great Corporate Culture. Let’s have a look at them from the perspective of appealing to a HiPo.

Vision:  This is the mission statement that provides your company with purpose. It must be a genuine statement. It’s this vision that should inform every employee’s decisions. The vision is the basis of the company's culture. When your ideal HiPo reads it, they should think, ‘that’s the place for me’.

Values:  Google is known for its “ten things we know to be true,” that they incorporate in all that they do for the company, the people and the customers.

“While a vision articulates a company’s purpose, values offer a set of guidelines on the behaviors and mindsets needed to achieve that vision.” (HBR)

The values do not have to be original or multiple, but they do have to be authentic. Think about the qualities you want from your HiPos. Are they captured here?

Practices:  This is where the rubber hits the road. A high potential should see your vision and values in action here, as evidence that you are the real deal.Do you say you value ideas, but discourage dissent in meetings? Do you say you value people, but mandate (even unofficially) 24/7 email availability?

People:  One of the leading factors that will make a HiPo consider joining your company is the people they will work with, specifically the leadership because they are looking to see who succeeds there. Look at your leadership. Are the values they hold, the behaviours they exhibit the ones that align with your picture of an ideal recruit? Remember, 2/3 of people leave their manager, not the job.

Narrative:  A narrative is the story of the company, incorporating its history and the major events that make it real. It can be done in a formal manner or informally. What is your narrative? Does it tell a story that speaks to your high potentials?

Place:  You may wonder why the physical place is so important. This is the environment where the culture lives. Does it promote or dampen what you’re trying to achieve. Do you support openness, but put the leadership behind closed doors? Espouse environmental stewardship, but have an office people have to drive to? 

These six components will be what forms the idea of the company in your employees’ minds and shape the stories that get told in the marketplace where HiPos are listening. Take some time to figure out what you want that story to be and then look at these factors to make sure they are helping, not hurting, your chance to attract and retain high potentials.

If you’re looking for tools to help you with this, check out our Job Analysis Worksheet. It’s a free tool based on our McQuaig Job Survey and is designed to help you create a 3-D view of an ideal candidate. 


 

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Recruitment, Leadership development

Ian Cameron

Written by Ian Cameron

Ian Cameron is the Managing Director of The McQuaig Institute®. He has more than 20 years of Human Resource and Organizational Development consulting experience. Throughout his career Ian’s focus has been on helping organizations realize their goals through their people and helping people live their passion through their work.