David Forry: High potentials go through cycles, life changes and may not even want to be a ‘high potential’ anymore. It could be something like getting involved in activities outside of work, taking a back seat to a partner’s career or at work they may take a stretch assignment that they may not truly fill for a couple years. It sounds kind of funny (and sad) but they are only high potential if their potential is greater than their current peers. With that said, if you have high potentials you should work to cultivate the talent and keep them in-house.
Craig Mitchell: Talent leaders should start thinking more holistically in their approach. The traditional model — managing high talent focused on meeting their needs and cultivating them like a plant for a future company flower show — is outdated. There needs to be more of a recognition that talent is a fairground ride and what goes around comes around.
Talent leaders should be focused on developing the talent they have, but they should not be blinkered to trying to keep them in-house at all costs. Organizations need to recognize that talent who they have developed who then chooses to move on still assists in developing the sector and promotes a positive image of your company. As more companies come around to this way of thinking, a talent carousel starts to develop in the sector, and what you lose with one hand when an experienced talented hire leaves you gain with the other when a talented, experienced hire joins.
Incestuous talent management processes have to end. Just like a gene pool, a company becomes more effective and agile by varying that pool and not becoming fixated on what it already has.
Rupalli Thacker: I believe this to be a culture question as much as a pure talent question. Top consulting firms continue to propound “move up or move out” culture, and that, for anyone who cares to continue contributing, is a sign to continue staying relevant. Even outside of the top consulting firms, talent is the sought-after competitive advantage, and therefore, if one does not want to lose high potentials, then yes, invest in their retraining.
Michelle O’Connor: In the pharma and biotech industry, we have a lot of high-potential talent, and traditionally, our career ladders have provided enough opportunities for people to develop new skills by moving up or across the organization.
With those opportunities shrinking, we need to do some retraining. In the field, our customers (doctors, hospitals, payers, etc.) are demanding that we deliver salespeople who have more business acumen, and most companies are supplementing their new hire training with ongoing coursework that helps their sales team develop deeper financial knowledge and a better understanding of how health care providers make decisions (cost effectiveness data, clinical pathways, etc.).
Considering the large investment we have in our employees, it only makes sense to adapt our training as business needs shift, rather than starting from scratch.
Susan Bender Phelps: I think this is a very important question for all businesses to explore. There are high potentials who are diamonds in the rough. There are high performers who go through cycles. There are also high performers who have been so successful doing what they do in a particular way that training them to do something new will be resisted because they were so successful for so long.
In my work, I have found that involving high performers in mentoring high potentials is a great way to maximize the results of training and retraining. Generally, the high potentials are more interested in learning new ways to succeed, because they have not peaked. They are hungry and they have the advantage of being abreast of the latest in technology and other advances. What they do not have is the foundation that the high performers developed when career ladders had more steps.
By pairing them, the high performers’ passion can be reignited. They can be introduced to the new ideas and new ways of doing things of their mentees. The mentees can share and teach while absorbing the skills and thinking that the career ladder used to provide from their mentors. The relationships become mutually beneficial and energize both parties.
What do you think? Join the discussion here.
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