I recently met with the Organisational Design team of a large regional bank; we were talking about the future of HR technology, the challenges they were facing and how TrustSphere could help.
One of the issues that they were keen to explore was opportunities to improve their ability to identify High Potential (“HiPo”) employees.
The team was happy to admit that their current process for identifying Hi-Po employees was limited to asking managers a single question during the annual performance review process:
Is he/she a candidate for the High Potential program? Yes/No
Based on this rudimentary process, employees made it through to the first round of selection for inclusion into the HiPo program.
Now, this may sound like a fairly terrible approach to identifying HiPo employees, but when you consider that only 8% of organizations consider their performance management process drives high levels of value, maybe this approach of HiPo identification isn’t much more broken than the rest of the field of performance management.
We have now started working with the bank to see if using Organizational Network Analysis (“ONA”); we can develop a quantifiable method of measuring an employee’s potential that can quickly benefit the business by identifying those employees who are demonstrating high potential.
The benefits of an effective HiPo development program are well known; we know that HiPos are critical to organizations continued success. The numbers are compelling:
HiPos contribute 21% more effort than regular employees, produce 91% more value than core employees, and are three times more likely to succeed as future leaders.
But the difficulty in identifying and retaining HiPos is also complex:
Only 29% of employees in the top quartile of performance are HiPo employees.
25% of HiPos are planning to leave their company within the next year, while the other 75% are 10% more likely to leave than other employees.
HiPo employees have a rare mix of aspiration, ability, and engagement:
Fig 1 – Finding the HiPo zone…
The deeper view on these broad characteristics becomes a little more measurable and quantifiable:
• Collaboration: They know what they want and can work with others to get it.
• Energy: HiPos are constantly motivated to improve themselves, and others feed off their energy.
• Courage: Taking risks is a natural part of their rhythms, and they’re not afraid of facing difficult challenges.
• Productivity: They produce more work in shorter time.
• Influence: HiPos can talk to other people in a way that makes people like them, leading to better networking skills.
If you have a look at the training courses offered as part of HiPo development programs, they focus almost exclusively on leadership. Universities like Wharton, Stamford, and Harvard all offer courses developed specifically for HiPos.
But these very expensive courses have very little focus on running a business, or finance, or marketing, they are all about leadership foundations, influencing, negotiating, conflict management and collaboration.
ONA provides a structured way to visualize how communications, information, and decisions flow through an organization. ONA can provide an x-ray into the inner workings of an organization measuring how all individuals contribute to the creation of “value” by communicating, collaborating and influencing their networks.
We are now developing an employee scorecard which will serve two distinct purposes, both identifying those employees who display the traits of a HiPo employee and then crucially, measuring the HiPos ongoing activity to see if they are actually delivering on this potential.
To build this score card, we will measure the following characteristics:
Network immersion and strength – how strong are the relationships that the employee has with colleagues? The stronger those relationships, the better value is created.
Fig 2 – How does your network grow?
Network Reach – how and where does the employee’s network reach, how are their relationships with more senior employees, with different teams, departments and across different physical locations?
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