4 Ways You Can Totally Screw Up Your Talent Strategy

A finger points to one person out of 11

No doubt part of your talent strategy involves focusing time, attention and training on your high potential employees. This is a fundamental part of your talent management plan to ensure a logical leadership succession and to see that you have the right talent in the right place at the right moment. But beware the pitfalls…

Let’s look at two of the high potentials you have identified, Chris and Alex. They have both proven themselves in their current roles. They are smart, above-average performers, good communicators, and respected by their managers and team mates alike. But is that enough? Our experience says, “No.” Here is where and how your choices may not measure up to fulfill your hopes and expectations.

  1. Current vs. Future Performance
    They may well both be high performers in their current positions but that is no guarantee that they have the knowledge, skills or even the desire to grow into more complex and visible leadership roles. Certainly you need these employees to be able to handle progressively more challenging jobs. Can you say with confidence that Chris and Alex have the personal characteristics that will allow them to be successful in more senior and responsible positions?
  2. Engagement Level
    Both are positive contributors to their team. They seem to be naturals. But are you sure of their commitment to this particular team and this particular company? Our employee engagement research scarily finds that 1 in 4 identified high potentials intend to leave their organization within the year. Chris and Alex may be less engaged than it seems.High potentials have special needs and expectations: they have high goals for themselves, for their companies and for their co-workers and leaders. When there’s a mismatch, they become a retention risk. Ensure their positive engagement by checking regularly on their satisfaction with their own career progress, on their trust and belief in their leaders, on their perception of their co-workers’ commitment and abilities, and on their personal alignment with organizational values and strategy.
  3. Misguided Development
    The somewhat natural tendency to protect high potentials from making mistakes is misguided. It is critical that Chris and Alex be exposed early on to complex and high stakes situations. They need to learn how to make mistakes and learn from them. They need to be able to handle the stress of decision making where there is ambiguity and uncertainty.The other natural tendency is to hand their development over to the line managers who recommended them. However, if they are truly high potential employees, you as leader need to spend the time to carefully oversee their grooming for leadership. The future of your company may depend upon how well they have been trained and coached for leadership.
  4. Board Room Access
    If Chris and Alex are to learn how corporate strategies are developed and implemented, they should be privy to early discussions on how to guide the company into the future. If they feel they have been left out of the loop, they will be less engaged. And then we’re right back where we started…with a 25% chance that they will jump ship.

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