Why a HiPo program? This is one question which triggers many thoughts in my mind.
In various discussions across different industries, I have had many responses such as: It is good for retention, it engages employees, R&R, and it gives a career visibility to the employee and many more. But what is the underlying thought for any organization to drive a HiPo program?
The ultimate objective of any organization is to achieve business success over a period of time. This success can be represented as business revenues, YoY growth, geography expansion, profitability, inorganic acquisitions and many others, and one of the key drivers for achieving this success is its people or should I say, the RIGHT PEOPLE.
Who are these RIGHT PEOPLE? These are the ones who have consistently demonstrated high performance and have led the organization to its current success and now the organization depends on this set of people to drive & achieve the articulated success in future.
But as Marshall Goldsmith said “What got you here, Will not get you there!!”. Though the intent and the will is there, are these people equipped with the right set of competencies to drive the organization to success?
Thus, the genesis of the HiPo program for these high performers is linked to the organization's business goals & outcomes.
What could be the Challenges faced?
A concern which regularly crops is the struggle witnessed by many organizations with the construct of the HiPo program & executing it. One area which attracts my attention is the process of identification of the HiPos.
Experience suggests that the easiest & the most adopted practice of identifying the HIPOs is to look for High Performers who are over-achieving their KRAs & put them through the HIPO program. Given the ever-changing politico-economic scenario, it is also crucial to evaluate the sustainability of this model.
Yes, the consistent performance over a few years in the changing industry conditions needs to be evaluated; and in addition; in view of the possible industry changes the employee’s potential needs to be evaluated. Today, this evaluation is possible through the use of a combination of tools, thus increasing the chance of the employee being successful.
Even once the right sets of people are identified to drive the organization, their appropriate development is essential. Many a times methodologies used in the past is the easiest reference point & the HIPOs are taken through the regular classroom training or certifications which may or may not be aligned to the business requirements. At this juncture, it is essential for them to understand the market from future dynamics rather than depend only on past experience. One will hear many people say “Yes I Know, I have dealt with it in the past.” This can be a bottomless pitfall. The HIPOs can be taken through a real life experience which is still unknown to them by making them interact with the Leaders of the industry, exposing them to organizations from the same other industries, designing projects which help them work on their competencies which are required in the future. Here there is another pitfall i.e. people tend to work on the competencies which make effective in their current role & not the role they will possibly take up in future.
One factor which has a dramatic influence on the success of the HIPO program is the organization culture. How resilient is the organization in adopting new ways of working? This comes to the forefront, especially when the HIPOs are trying to do new things and they fail. At this point, they need handholding to progress on the same path till they achieve success. This also means the managers of the HiPos need to be sensitized to the new reality.
One of the ways to measure the ROI on HIPO program could be designing team projects for the HIPOs which are connected to the business outcomes and at the same time tap the required competency growth for the HIPOs. Again towards the end, it is essential to link the HiPo program to business growth to achieve a measurable ROI.