High potential

Essential components of a high potential program for employees

In this article, we outline what high-potential programs are, why they're important, concrete examples, and steps to start building your own high-potential program for employees.

Ryan Carruthesr

July 20, 2022

Essential components of a high potential program for employees

You have identified some high potential employees in your organization. You want to help them harness their strength to move forward and help grow the company.

This article will give you actionable information on how to start a high-potential program for employees. 

Let's get right into it!

What are high potential programs for employees?

High potential programs, also known as HiPo programs, are specific programs aimed at accelerating the development of future leaders and top performers at a company. 

Most large organizations have career development tracks termed "high potential programs." Georgia Tech shares a resource listing over a dozen reputable companies with HiPo programs

These programs ‌give employees with the greatest potential special experiences to help them advance within the organization. These programs allow the participants an expanded view of the company's culture, challenges, and visions. 

In a separate article, we outline the characteristics of high-potential employees. Use the criteria outlined to identify which employees you should pay special attention to.

Why is it important to have high-potential programs?

High potential programs are a way to develop the internal talent pipeline in your organization. Starting these programs puts resources behind HR teams to identify, develop, and promote top talent. 

Additionally, it is a way of showing aspiring leaders that your organization wants to nurture their passion and ambition. It is a win-win for both the employees and the company. 

These programs provide an avenue for a focused approach to professional development for employees. 

Here are 5 reasons why high-potential programs are important:

1. They prepare future leaders

These programs provide potential leaders with the opportunity to broaden their exposure to senior leaders and the organization‌. It is a chance for aspiring leaders to develop a network of peers with similar goals and get mentorship to help them realize their potential. High potential programs are thus crucial for leadership development. They include leadership mentoring or development programs.  

2. It's exclusive to high performers, which is motivating

High potential programs are specifically for high-performing individuals within the organization. It is based on an in-depth analysis of workforce needs and how it aligns with personal learning opportunities for participants. 

Only the most deserving can access this opportunity and exposure to a fast-paced career progression. This motivates them to put in the work and also assures them their talents are being put to good use. Our high potential mentoring program handbook outlines how to mentor these individuals. 

3. High potential programs raise the standard of performance

You may think that HiPo programs only help those employees selected. But they have positive effects across the company culture. 

High potential programs help develop leaders who can create and manage highly effective teams within the organization. They gain skills that help them analyze team composition, leverage information sharing, and resolve conflicts. 

This improves the overall performance of the organization. Participants gain personal leadership styles with which they can influence other employees to do their job well. 

4. Develop senior executives who are not just leaders but mentors

High potential programs are a way of engaging senior leaders in ‌teaching and mentoring high-performing employees. They also act as role models for participants. 

These interactions ensure ‌high potential employees receive optimum exposure to mentoring and promotional opportunities with the organization. It also exposes executives to candidates within the organization who are deserving and highly qualified for top job openings. 

Getting executives involved is critical to nurturing a high potential employee's development.

5. An opportunity for participants to expand their personal and professional network

Depending on the setup, participants ‌develop a network of interprofessional peers. Through internal and external development, networking and mentoring events. They get the chance to be mentored by seasoned executives from diverse backgrounds and experiences. 

Additionally, they build relationships with their peers within the program, who can hold them accountable, provide unique insights into business challenges, and encourage growth.

High potential programs ensure talented employees have the organization's commitment to their personal and professional development.

Examples of high-potential programs

Here is a list of high-potential programs run by top companies around the world:

  • BMW, one of the largest industrial organizations in Germany, is a manufacturer of successful cars and motorcycles. They have a powerful presence in the automobile industry. They have the BMW Group Graduate Program to develop potential top performers.
  • BP has a place as one of the world's largest energy companies. They provide their customers with fuel, energy and retail services of petrochemical products. They have the Euro Graduate Program for potentials receptive to growth. 
  • Phillips has been in existence since 1891 when they introduced their first product, an incandescent light bulb. They have looked forward since then. Now having the HeartStart defibrillator that saves lives. They are people-centric, and it reflects in their high-powered Leadership Talent Identification and Business Courses. 
  • The last one we will mention is Rolls-Royce. Leading providers of power systems and services around the world. Forward-thinking with their Professional Excellence program and Leadership Development program.

Now that we know what high-potential programs are, why they're important, and have looked at a few concrete examples, let's turn to walk through how you can start building your own high-potential program for employees.

What's included in a high-potential program?

You definitely want to keep key talented employees engaged and ready for future positions. A high-potential development program is one important way to achieve this. What are the key elements to ensure a measurable ROI on your HiPo employees? We discuss them below.

Mentorship from leaders

Your HiPo program should include mentorship. Pair high potentials with executives or senior leaders within the organization. 

You can have a brief training session where mentors and mentees learn their roles in the relationship. Mentors can provide guidance and help them define their paths. 

Learning and accountability from peers

Peers can hold each other accountable and provide relevant feedback throughout the program. It is up to the management to create a healthy and constructive environment for talent to communicate and learn from each other. 

Connect them with peers in their area of expertise and watch how you get significant rewards.

Group sessions

You should have aspects of the program that include group sessions. This enables relationship building and the chance for participants to learn from each other. 

Make a mentoring circle with a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, divisions, or departments within the workplace. They would have a variety of experiences to share and learn‌ from. 

Personal development plans

What is a HiPo without a personal development plan? It is definitely part of the process. Always include plans to help participants develop interpersonal skills that are uniquely theirs. 

Learning through experience is a good way to engage high-potential employees. Also, assign engaging and stimulating tasks that challenge them and ensure they use their capacity and reach their full potential. 

Focus on their growth and advancement rather than overwhelm them with tasks. Building an employee development plan is essential to keeping the best talent. 

Focused projects to build key skills

Get participants involved in cross-functional projects that keep them on their toes. This includes assigning projects to individuals for the specific reason of helping them gain certain skills and experiences they'll need as leaders. 

It could be a carefully selected project in an area unfamiliar to them. They get the chance to build key skills that bring them closer to the organization's overall goals and strategies. This is also a way of aligning the employees with the organization's challenges and connecting them with new experiences. 

Start your high-potential program today

Investing in human capital compounds to yield long-term growth. High potential programs are a key strategy to retain top talent. 

Running a high-potential program isn't easy without the right tools. Especially if you have dozens of talented employees to develop, you can start your high-potential leadership program right away on Together. 

We have all the resources to educate, engage and develop your top talent. You get a dashboard to manage participants, measure the program's success and‌ match the right employees to ensure maximum success. 

Book a demo or get started for free today.

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Want incredible results from your mentorship program? Then download our comprehensive list of best practices.

We draw these best practices from the first-hand experience of program managers like you and our own expertise. This white paper is a comprehensive guide that will be your roadmap to building a world-class mentoring program.