10 Methods of Assessing Potential


10 Methods of Assessing Potential

By Kevin C. Ngo, Nick Carter, & Anthony Ball   

Since the publication of our article 10 Key Considerations when Identifying High Potential, we have been asked how to go about assessing potential. It’s no surprise that there is no single best way to assess for potential. Each piece in the puzzle of potential is different and requires us to look at different types of evidence. Figure 1 below details the many ways of assessing potential, with each approach looking at different aspects of People Measures’ high potential model.

Figure 1. Methods of measuring potential by factors and components of potential. N.B. Assessment centres and development centres are composed of a combination of activities, and therefore do not directly measure each component of the high potential model. What is measured in each centre would depend on the activities chosen.

In this article, we will demystify high potential assessment so that you can find the right mix of methods for identifying high potential talent in your organisation. Below follows a list of 10 practical ways to measure an individual’s potential to progress and perform effectively in roles of greater complexity, scale and ambiguity.

1.         Manager ratings

In our first article, we argued that performance does not equal potential. That said, it is not credible in any organisation to promote low performers. It is therefore worthwhile for you to set a minimum standard of current performance as a first hurdle in your high potential talent identification process.

The type of performance measure you choose is critical to the assessment process. For most organisations, the performance metrics available are typically KPIs and other outcome-based data. You may decide to use such outcome data as the benchmark in your assessment process, an approach which would be appropriate if all candidates were in similar roles. However, if it is difficult to make comparisons using your current performance data or if you are trying to compare individuals from different areas and functions within your organisation, assessing each individual against a common set of competencies can provide a level playing field.

When we talk about competencies, we mean measurable behaviours at work, not outcomes or knowledge, skills and attributes which are not clearly demonstrated at work. To illustrate this difference, we ask you to imagine that you have decided to compare two individuals in your sales team who are responsible for different products in different markets with different sales targets. How could you make a fair comparison based on their performance data? One way in which you can compare these two salespeople is through managerial ratings on a set of relevant competencies. In this method, each salesperson’s immediate manager would complete a questionnaire rating typical behaviour displayed in the workplace. In this way, you can compare these two salespeople on how they sell rather than how much they sell. For a larger project, a normed report may then be produced which indicates how each individual compares to their peers against the competencies identified as important for success in your organisation.

2.         360° / Multi-rater feedback

Another popular and robust method of assessing performance is through a 360° feedback process. This allows you to gather a greater range of views of the individual from themselves, peers, direct reports, managers and other stakeholders in order to produce a more objective assessment. Alternative multi-rater designs are also available to you if a 360° feedback process is inappropriate. Collecting data from different rater groups provides an insight into how different competencies are demonstrated in different areas of work or observed by different stakeholders. This insight is particularly important considering that an immediate manager may not have opportunities to see how an individual works with other people such as direct reports.

3.         Career aspiration and engagement interviews

Another consideration when assessing high potential talent is the individual’s aspiration to work at a more complex and senior level. We have argued in our previous article that an individual must be motivated to progress their career and operate at a high level in order to be considered high potential talent. It is therefore important to openly explore individuals’ ambitions, life circumstances and plans to determine whether transitioning to higher level and more complex roles is something to which they genuinely aspire.

When we talk about potential, we mean potential for your organisation. It is critical for organisations to invest in developing people that want to stay and be productive. Besides an individual’s aspiration to operate at a higher level, it is important for you to find out the likelihood of them contributing this higher level work to the success of your organisation in the long-term. You would therefore be advised to assess an individual’s commitment to and engagement with your organisation.

A career aspiration interview is a semi-structured interview in which individuals respond to, and are probed on, a range of questions which elicit information about their short, medium and long term career interests and goals. These interviews are also used to ascertain engagement levels and gain insight into the key drivers of motivation and satisfaction for the individual. This method provides you a level of insight, beyond an assessment of the individual’s inherent capabilities, to examine the fit between their needs and aspirations and the environment of your organisation.

4.         Cognitive ability tests

It is of fundamental importance that high potential talent individuals possess the capacity to analyse complex information and solve multi-faceted problems. Cognitive ability tests provide very strong, objective evidence of the critical area of ‘cognitive capacity’. We recommend the use of a suite of ability tests, designed for high level roles, and combining assessments of verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning. This will provide you with a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s cognitive ability across a broad range of applications. When combined with a simulation activity, cognitive ability tests also provide evidence of an individual’s capacity to think broadly. Overall, the use of cognitive ability tests, which have repeatedly been shown to be the single best predictors of job performance, provide strong reassurance about the cognitive capacity of high potential talent.

5.         Personality questionnaires

As psychologists working in organisations, we are interested in what the results of personality measures say about how an individual will behave in different situations. A well-established occupational personality questionnaire (such as the OPQ32 or Saville Wave) can provide you with solid evidence of individual orientations and preferences which are relevant to assessing high potential. In particular, they provide evidence of how individuals manage themselves and their emotions, along with a range of other interpersonal and thinking style preferences. Well-validated personality questionnaires have also been shown to be better than unstructured interviews and work as well as structured interviews in predicting subsequent role performance. If the personality questionnaire is administered prior to the completion of a behavioural interview, the results can be used to develop targeted questions and probes for an even more effective assessment of potential.

6.         Behavioural interviews

Personality questionnaires provide us with evidence of an individual’s preferences but no empirical evidence as to how these preferences play out in context. It is therefore advisable to delve deeper and seek out past examples of these behaviours. For example, you may hypothesise from the results of a personality questionnaire that thinking broadly is a strength for an individual, however, you have no evidence of what this potential strength looks like in their work. A structured behavioural interview, carried out by experienced interviewers and based on the target components of potential, provides you with sound behavioural evidence of a range of key aspects of potential. This method is particularly effective at gathering evidence on components of our high potential model such as ‘Developing Self’ and ‘Achieving Results’ which are more difficult to assess using other methods.

7.         Case study or in tray simulations

The cognitive ability tests, measures of personality, 360-degree feedback questionnaires and interviews described in the preceding paragraphs help us infer an individual’s capabilities. However, there are also methods we can employ to directly observe an individual’s capabilities in a work context. One way in which we can see how an individual is likely to work is to ask them to complete a written case study or in-tray activity, in which individuals are typically asked to absorb, analyse and come to decisions about a wide range of complex material related to a fictitious work environment and set of circumstances. This can provide you with strong, practical evidence of the cognitive components of potential as well as aspects of the Adaptability factor of our high potential model (see Figure 1).

8.         Role / real play simulations

A role / real play is a very effective method for gathering evidence of the ‘Social’ and ‘Emotional’ components of potential. Individuals are required to interact with another individual or individuals in a fictitious or, potentially, real scenario and to address and resolve a range of issues. This type of activity can provide you with very strong confirmatory evidence of an individual’s comfort with and capacity to display appropriate interpersonal behaviours. A role / real play simulation is also a very realistic and compelling experience for the individual and provides a very sound basis for providing feedback on interpersonal style. The debriefing of these activities is also an opportunity to gather information on an individual’s insight into their own and others’ behaviour.

9.         Presentation simulations

Having an individual formally present their recommendations in a simulated environment provides you with very strong evidence of their capacity to influence and have an impact on others. It also challenges the individual to demonstrate a capacity to think quickly and, depending upon the subject matter and task, adopt a broad perspective and adroitly deal with incomplete or ambiguous information. Presentations also provide you with an insight into the individual’s capacity to manage themselves effectively in demanding environments.

10.    Assessment / Development Centres

Each of the methods above may be conducted separately. However, it is possible to incorporate these activities into comprehensive assessment or development centres. These are structured programs, typically half to two-days in length, in which individuals undertake a selected combination of the aforementioned assessment tasks. The crux of an assessment centre is that a group of individuals are systematically and objectively observed and assessed by multiple assessors across a range of activities which provide multiple sources of evidence of the factors which predict high potential. Usually, an assessment or development centre asks people to work through scenarios that are pitched at more senior levels than their current role. Undertaking an assessment at this more senior level would provide evidence of each individual’s future potential in your organisation.

Individuals would typically complete this program in a small group and would be assessed, observed and receive feedback from a range of experienced observers. Following the assessment activities, observers would meet together to review and integrate evidence of the individual’s potential against the key capabilities. An overall assessment of potential would be provided along with specific evidence related to particular strengths and development needs which emerged. The whole experience and the feedback can be debriefed with individuals following the centre. Not only does this methodology provide you with very strong and comprehensive evidence of potential, it can also provide you with a sound basis for planning the ongoing development of the individuals involved.

Bringing it all together

What we have provided here is a broad overview of the reliable and predictive ways in which you can assess for potential in your organisation. It is likely that you are already applying some of these methods in your current selection and development practices. It is important, however, to understand the differences in purpose between selecting talent to fill a role and identifying high potential individuals for your talent pipeline. Once you have defined what you want to achieve through your high potential talent identification program, you can begin to design and run activities based on the methods described above to meet your organisation’s needs.



10 Key Considerations when Developing High Potentials


10 Key Considerations when Developing High Potentials

By Daniel Zaba & Kevin C. Ngo

We define potential as the ability to progress and perform effectively in roles of greater complexity, scale and range. But how do we help high potential individuals actualise these latent abilities? Daniel Zaba and Kevin Ngo discuss 10 key considerations in developing your talent to reach their potential.

Outline your organisation’s strategy

The purpose of strategic talent management is to ensure that the right people with the right capabilities in the right places at the right time to fulfil an organisation’s strategy. The first consideration in developing your high potentials (HiPos) is to outline a clear strategy for your organisation. Best practice organisations consider development programs in relation to how they fit into the bigger picture of business strategy (Leskiw & Singh, 2007). Being able to articulate how the development program aligns to a clear strategy will help you ensure that the initiative helps your organisation achieve its goals.

Defining capabilities for success

Despite the temptation to use an off-the-shelf program for a relatively affordable one-off cost, this will rarely result in an effective long-term solution for your organisation (Church, Rotolo, Ginther & Levine, 2015). Your organisation has unique needs; assuming that a HiPo program that works somewhere else will work in the context of your organisation ignores the strategy and culture of your business – the true drivers of the most effective HiPo programs (Fernández-Aráoz, Groysberg, & Nohria, 2011). By identifying the behaviours which lead to high performance, you can define the capabilities your HiPos need to help your organisation fulfil its strategy (Gangani, McLean, & Braden, 2006).

Diagnosing the talent gap

When we embark on the task of developing HiPos, we need to answer the question of where the critical gaps are between the capabilities in our talent pipeline and what our organisation needs in the future. Any subsequent development programs should focus on addressing these gaps so that your resources are spent where they are needed most.

Identifying your audience

Although all employees can benefit from training and development, HiPo programs should be targeted at HiPos to gain the greatest return on investment. This is especially true when we consider that research says that, at best, 29% of high performers actually have high potential (CLC, 2005) and some estimates (e.g. Burke, Schmidt, & Griffin, 2014) are lower. However, 75% of companies still rely on past performance, and 73% on current performance as their best predictors of potential (Church, Rotolo, Ginther & Levine, 2015). Many managers identify the wrong people as HiPos – this can be due to not having the right tools to carry out the task, or the fear that their talent will be moved to another area of the business (Burke, Schmidt& Griffin, 2014). It has been shown that when HiPos are not effectively assessed, 55% drop out of their program within 5 years and 46% of those HiPos promoted to new leadership roles fail to meet the organisation’s objectives. Consequently, many HiPo programs which are otherwise well-designed are ineffective because the wrong audience has been targeted.  Correctly identifying HiPos leads to well defined development needs and informs the content of development programs. Our previous article, 10 Key Considerations When Identifying High Potential, describes the what to consider in your assessment of potential, and our forthcoming article 10 Methods of Assessing Potential will describe ways you can measure potential.

Deciding on your approach to formal learning

The effectiveness of different learning and development approaches varies depending on your audience, with the prominent example of formal training being rated as less effective as the level of seniority in your audience goes up (DDI, 2014). It is therefore important to tailor your formal learning approach to the needs of the HIPOs you are developing in addition to those of your organisation.

Arrange developmental relationships

Organisations with well-designed development programs understand that development relationships contribute more to learning than the classroom (McCall, Eichinger & Lombardo, 2001). Many leading organisations provide mentoring programs where HiPos are paired with leaders within the business (Fernández-Aráoz, Groysberg, & Nohria, 2011). This practice provides exposure to broader and more complex business challenges as well as opportunities to learn from the experiences of more senior individuals in the organisation. Another form of developmental relationship used in leading organisations is coaching (Fernández-Aráoz, Groysberg, & Nohria, 2011). The nature of the coaching relationship is more focused than that of the mentor and does not necessarily involve imparting knowledge or expertise on the individual; the nature of the coaching relationship is collaborative, reflective, and goal-focused with the aim of progressing the individual’s development plan (Jones, Woods, & Guillaume, 2016; Smither, 2011). Coaching has been associated with benefits to businesses, including improved motivational outcomes, increased performance in cognitive tasks such as problem-solving, better behavioural outcomes such as skill acquisition, and superior results at the individual, team and organisational level (Jones, Woods, & Guillaume, 2016). It is therefore worthwhile to integrate these sorts of developmental relationships into your HIPO program.

Getting out of the classroom

As outlined in 10 Key Considerations for Retaining High Potentials, most learning occurs while on the job (McCall, Eichinger & Lombardo, 2001). Having HiPos solve real-world business issues provides them with opportunities to test what they have learnt in the classroom as well as come up with original solutions to novel problems. One way in which learning can be brought into the workplace is to assign stretch assignments. These are challenging tasks where your HiPos are given unfamiliar responsibilities, involve change, a higher level of responsibility, working across teams or business units, and working with diverse individuals (DeRue & Wellman, 2009). Some other ways to facilitate learning at work is through a rotation program or offering secondments to extend HiPos’ experiences beyond their current area of work.

Tidy up – ensure that culture and practices support workplace learning

It’s common to think of learning and development as occurring within an individual. This line of thought has been compared with returning a clean fish into a dirty fish tank (Meeks, Philpot & Sullivan, 2016). If you put a HiPo through a development program but do nothing to support the application of new learning in your business, then that individual is going to face an uphill battle to make any real changes. What you will lose is the return on investment in the delivery of your organisation’s strategy. To turn an individual’s newly acquired knowledge into tangible benefits, an organisation must itself learn to do things differently. These changes may mean realigning systems and practices such as performance management, rewards, succession planning and individual responsibilities (Kesler, 2002; Melum, 2002; Ready, 2004). The culture of your organisation can be an enabler or a hurdle depending on the shared norms, assumptions and language of your workplace. It is therefore important think about what barriers to applied learning exist in your organisation and how you can turn these hurdles into opportunities.

Evaluate your program

A thorough evaluation of the effectiveness of your program is an essential step in developing your HiPos. A common method of evaluating development programs is with Kirkpatrick’s four-level evaluation model, where each subsequent level looks at outcomes of increasing depth (Kirkpatrick, 1959, 2004). These levels look at the subjective reactions to the program, knowledge or skill acquisition, changes to behaviour at work, and business-level outcomes such as organisational performance. This final level is an opportunity to evaluate the return on investment in the HiPo program.

Action your evaluation and update your program

Best practice organisations act on their evaluations by recognising successes and improving on flaws (Leskiw & Singh, 2007). Rewarding the successful application of learning draws attention to the link between new behaviours and business outcomes in the minds of both the participants and management. Recognition of the successes of a HiPo program also helps build and reinforce support for the development initiative across the organisation.

Although a given program may have done the job of fulfilling an organisation’s needs, no development program is perfect. Your evaluation may have revealed shortcomings in the design and implementation of your initiative that you need to address. Changes may have also occurred over time as you tweak different aspects of the program during delivery. The circumstances within and outside your organisation may also have changed since the program was launched. The result, over time, is that is that the different components of your program no longer hang together; the narrative is no longer relevant, or that the overall design no longer meets your organisation’s needs. It is important to apply a continuous improvement mindset to you HiPo program to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of your organisation.

Bringing it all together

Research shows that HiPo programs improve organisational performance (Kelly, 2013). Leading businesses recognise the importance of developing HiPos in providing a competitive advantage and CEOs reportedly spend 20% of their time on talent-related issues, yet few organisations feel their talent pipeline is capable of filling strategic positions (Collings & Mellahi, 2009). Where many organisations fall short is in the development of their HiPos. The ten considerations outlined in this article can help you design and deliver a HiPo program which will help you stand out in your market by ensuring that your most valuable resource – your people – are empowered to write the story of your organisation’s success.


Burke, E., Schmidt, C., & Griffin, M. (2014). Improving the Odds of Success for High-Potential Programs – Talent Report 2014. Alpharetta, GA: CEB SHL Talent Measurement.

Church, A. H., Rotolo, C. T., Ginther, N. M., & Levine, R. (2015). How are top companies designing and managing their high-potential programs? A follow-up talent management benchmark study. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 67(1), 17-47.

Collings, D. G., & Mellahi, K. (2009). Strategic talent management: A review and research agenda. Human Resource Management Review, 19(4), 304-313.

Corporate Leadership Council. (2005). Realizing the Full Potential of Rising Talent. Washington, DC: Corporate Executive Board.

DeRue, D. S., Wellman, N. (2009). Developing leaders via experience: The role of developmental challenge, learning orientation, and feedback availability. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(4), 859-875.

Fernández-Aráoz, C., Groysberg, B., & Nohria, N. (2011, October). How to hang on to your high potentials: Emerging best practices in managing your company’s future. Harvard Business Review, 89(10), 1-9.

Gangani, D., McLean, G. N., & Braden, R. A. (2006). A competency-based human resource development strategy.  Performance Improvement Quarterly, 19(1), 127-139.

Jones, R. J., Woods, S. A., & Guillaume, Y. R. F. (2016). The effectiveness of workplace coaching: A meta-analysis of learning and performance outcomes from coaching.  Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 89(2), 249-277.

Kelly, K. (2013). Identifying high-potential talent in the workplace. UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Kesler, G. C. (2002), Why the leadership bench never gets deeper: Ten insights about executive talent development. Human Resource Planning, 25(1), 32-44.

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McCall, M., Eichinger, R., & Lombardo, M. (2001) The Career Architect Development Planner. Centre for Creative Leadership.

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Smither, J. W. (2011). Can psychotherapy research serve as a guide for research about executive coaching? An agenda for the next decade. Journal of Business Psychology, 26(2), 135-145.


10 Key Considerations for Retaining High Potentials


10 Key Considerations for Retaining High Potentials

By Natalie Livings & Daniel Zaba

1.    The global context.

There are a number of global and domestic trends and challenges impacting organisations. In Australia many are still working through economic recovery whilst simultaneously dealing with continued globalisation, demographic shifts, environmental issues, tight financial pressures, rise of emerging economies and increasing problem complexity. In addition, the rapid pace of technological change includes our lives being transformed by the ubiquitous presence of Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, Yammer, Alibaba and Weibo, to name but a few. Amidst this backdrop, organisations face a tightening labour market, and increasing competition for talent within and across national borders. It is therefore paramount to find ways to retain the high performing and high potential individuals you do have.

2.    Implement talent management from the top.

An organisation’s talent management strategy should be designed to enable the achievement of the organisation’s overall business strategy – by driving the quality and quantity of talent required. In order for talent management to work effectively, senior management need to be deeply committed and accountable, with the passion for talent starting at the top and cascading down. HR should be positioned as a strategic partner to the business, rather than as the talent owner. Instead, talent management needs to be owned and driven by line management, with a compelling vision and narrative understood by all. Part of this talent strategy will be identifying what ‘talent’ means to that particular organisation as well as defining what ‘high potential’ talent looks like in that context.  As outlined in our blog post 10 Key Considerations When Identifying High Potential, we consider talent to be ‘the potential to progress and perform effectively in roles of greater complexity, scale and range’.

3.     Health-check your performance management process.

To support an organisation’s talent management strategy a strong performance management ethos is needed. Line managers need to be up-skilled in setting expectations clearly, giving feedback (both positive and constructive negative) and providing effective mentoring and coaching. Some organisations have based their performance management process around metrics to such an extent that they have forgotten to reinforce the power of positive feedback. Numerical ratings, rankings, and ‘objective’ evaluations may actually reduce performance if they are not coupled with positive feedback (Bersin, 2015). In addition to harnessing performance management processes to help people to perform and excel, the departing of consistent underperformers must also occur, as these individuals can jeopardise delivery and negatively affect those around them.  Line managers thus need to be willing to differentiate their people as top, average and underperformers.

Furthermore, due to managers now having on average a span of control 20%-30% greater than they did five years ago, it is unlikely that any single manager can pick up on the nuances of every direct report. Therefore, it is important that systems are put in place to gather multi-source feedback to support robust performance conversations.

4.    Work your talent matrix.

When utilised well the talent matrix (e.g. 9-box grid) moves beyond a simple tool that gets trundled out once or twice a year for performance reviews and becomes a valuable process for supporting a high performance culture. Effective talent management thus requires a move from the tool as ‘a process’ to ‘an enabler of meaningful conversations’. Placement of employees into the talent matrix (or equivalent) should occur in a talent calibration conversation with the group of leaders who ‘own’ that talent pool. Line managers need to be making, owning and constructively discussing judgements, a process which may be facilitated by HR. They need to be able to categorise talent in a meaningful way, e.g. lateral, potential or high potential. Used this way, the talent matrix becomes a conversational tool that promotes discussion and engagement from different levels of management. Once the talent matrix is filled, clearly identified actions are required for each box in the matrix, along with a plan for implementing each of these actions.

5.    Create internal talent mobility.

Effective talent management identifies the gap between current people capability and strategic goals. Siloed organisations are an obstacle to effective talent management as the structure does not encourage collaboration and sharing of resources. Ideally, high potentials should be viewed as an organisational resource rather than as belonging to a particular business or function. In best practice organisations, a centralised committee oversees role movements, progress reviews and business impact assessment. These movements of key talent also provide invaluable opportunities for on-the-job development of these individuals.

6.    Communicate honestly.

Organisations are often reluctant to acknowledge who is on the ‘high potential’ list, however most of the time employees know, or can guess, anyway. If high potentials are informed of their ‘status’ then this can enhance retention and improve productivity (as long as expectations are managed, of course). Organisations may need to also prepare for the potential disappointment of those not identified as high potential. However, with regular robust performance conversations and honest feedback, this should not come as a surprise to those not yet identified as high potential; they will already be working on their own development plan.

7.    Develop your high potentials.

Talent management affects your bottom line: managing high performing talent well yields 22% greater shareholder return than industry peers (McKinsey & Company, 1998). Organisations that are successful at talent management identify and sponsor high potential individuals and actively manage their development. They manage succession deliberately and have transparent and fair processes for filling roles.

Organisations that manage the development of their talent well often follow the best practice 70-20-10 model (McCall, Eichinger & Lombardo, 2001). At its core the model states that learning occurs primarily from on-the-job experiences (70%), following by learning through mentoring and coaching (20%) and finally from courses (10%).

Different types of development suggestions would be identified for individuals in different areas of the talent matrix. For example, for next generation leaders/exceptional talent (often shown as the top right box in a 9-box performance vs potential grid), the organisation may consider:

·         stretch leadership opportunities (special projects, moves across geographical or divisional boundaries);

·         visibility with, and access to, senior executives; a personalised development plan which is supported with executive coaching;

·         assigning a senior mentor (cross-functional or global); and potentially

·         executive education or an executive development program.

There needs to be an understanding that some high potential stretch assignments are high-risk-high-gain. Therefore, short-term performance dips should be recognised and tolerated, with individuals being provided with feedback in order to help them reach the desired outcome of the stretch opportunity.

8.    Reward thoughtfully.

Financial incentives should only form part of any reward strategy. Research shows that bonuses are one of the lowest motivating factors in engaging a workforce (Tinyhr, 2014). Extrinsic (external) incentives such as money need to work in conjunction with intrinsic (internal) motivators such as achievement, recognition, opportunity to have an impact and career progression. High potential employees are typically motivated by challenging work and gain satisfaction from putting far more into their work than the average employee. As long as they understand how they are contributing to the organisation’s strategy and see that their efforts are being recognised in some way, then they are likely to continue to be engaged with, and retained by, the organisation.

9.    Change with the changing face of work.

Flexibility (be it hours, days, location etc.) is becoming increasingly important to both individuals and organisations. Part-time and casual work rates are rising; retaining and inspiring returning to work mothers is an issue that is yet to be fully resolved; people are mandated to work longer than ever before; and workers are less likely to stay in one career or organisation during their lifetime. Therefore, adopting more agile approaches to employment will be attractive to your high potentials (and others).

The prevalence of Activity Based Working (ABW) has also increased. This has moved beyond the hot desking paradigm to the creation of environments within the office space that are conducive to different work tasks – from a quiet place to undertake research, to areas to innovate, to a funky forum for a large workshop. Organisations providing ABW are enabling employees to concentrate better, become less sedentary, readily collaborate, be more productive and consequently enjoy working more.

10.           Hire the right people.

In order to retain high potentials, an organisation has to have them in the first place. Obviously some of this will depend on the organisation’s talent strategy (e.g. ‘build versus buy’); however it is still likely at some point to involve hiring. One of the greatest talent challenges for any organisation is to hire the right people. To have the right people enter your workforce, you need a clear but flexible recruitment strategy (Fernandez-Araoz, Groysberg, & Nohria, 2011).  Organisations cannot expect to grow without knowing how to access great talent pools from which they can attract, select, assess, and hire the right people (Bersin, 2015). It is becoming increasingly important to differentiate an organisation via branding and the experiences and relationship management processes that are in place for candidates. These differentiation points are all opportunities to reinforce the organisation’s culture so that it attracts the right people and keeps them interested in the organisation’s brand so that they can be readily accessed when they are required.

…Bringing it all together.

By adopting these suggestions organisations should reap the benefits of engaging their high potentials and meeting ever-increasing complexities and ambiguity in delivering strategic goals. High potentials are more likely to stay with your organisation if they understand that they have been identified as leaders of the future and if they are developed and rewarded in a way that is meaningful to them. Engaging high potential individuals can be difficult: they can be exceptional and demanding; they can be innovative and impatient, and they can be inspiring and challenging. This takes effort: talent management must be strategic in a way that aligns to the organisation’s business goals, and leaders and managers throughout the organisation need to be involved in attracting, identifying, developing and retaining high potential individuals.


Bersin, J. (2015). Predictions for 2015: Redesigning the organization for a rapidly changing world. Bersin by Deloitte.

Fernandez-Araoz, C., Groysberg, B., & Nohria, N. (2011, October). How to hang on to your high potentials: Emerging best practices in managing your company’s future. Harvard Business Review, 1-9.

McCall, M., Eichinger, R., & Lombardo, M. (2001) The Career Architect Development Planner. Centre for Creative Leadership.

McKinsey & Company. (1998). The war for talent. The McKinsey Quarterly: The Online Journal of McKinsey & Co.,3, 1-8. Retrieved from http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/article_print.aspx?L2=18 &L3=31&ar=305

Sage. (2013). ROEI: Return on employee investment: Increase competitiveness through your biggest asset. Retrieved from http://na.sage.com/us/sage-hrms/~/media/site/Sage percent20HRMS/pdf/SageHRMS_ROEI. 

Tinyhr. (2014). The 7 key trends impacting today’s workplace. Retrieved from http:// www.tinyhr.com/2014-employee-engagement-organizational-culture-report. 


10 Key Considerations when Identifying High Potential


10 Key Considerations when Identifying High Potential

Strategic talent management is all about making sure that your organisation has the right people in the right places at the right times. The first step to a successful talent strategy is therefore answering the question of which individuals and groups can meet your organisation’s future needs—that is, who is high potential? People Measures has identified ten things which must be addressed when identifying high potential.