CPS HR Consulting

How to Identify and Develop High-Potential Employees Through Succession Planning

Group of professionals planning work around a table in an office

When an organization propels itself successfully down the road, it’s prudent to ensure that the momentum continues. Thus, every business with an eye on the horizon must consider succession planning as a way to build a lasting legacy. Succession planning involves finding individuals who will lead the way. 

To help make succession planning work as intended, organizations must identify and develop high-potential employees (HiPos). These individuals have qualities and skills that may indicate good fits for future leadership roles. 

In this guide, we explore what types of employees might stand out as the right people for the demands that succession planning warrants.

Identifying High-Potential Employees

HiPos reveal themselves through their experience and demeanor. Individuals who can think on their feet and cast insightful vision on product development or customer engagement, as examples, could make great future leaders.

These individuals often possess exceptional leadership traits. Qualities to look for include agility and a mindset for growth opportunities that mesh with the long-term outlook of the organization.

Methods for Identification

Identifying HiPos can be performed in a variety of ways:

  • Performance Reviews: Regular performance evaluations help single out employees who consistently exceed expectations.
  • 360-Degree Feedback: This method involves input from an employee’s supervisors, co-workers and those who work under the person in question. This offers a broad view of the potential for leadership.
  • Assessments: Psychometric assessments and ability tests provide insights into an employee’s leadership possibilities. Traits like problem-solving skills and emotional makeup factor into the equation.

Organizations must leverage a mix of these methods to put forth a well-rounded and unbiased analysis of HiPos. This approach looks at current performance but it also has a bearing on how a candidate might perform in future roles.

Developing High-Potential Employees

Once HiPos gets identified, developing them into future leaders defines the next step. A solid strategy involves creating plans tailored to the personality and style of these employees.

Customized Development Plans

Each HiPo employee has strengths and weaknesses. Customized plans focus on both of these areas. They consider career aspirations along with the organization’s strategic goals. These plans might include specific training modules, mentorship programs and leadership lessons.

Challenging Projects and Stretch Assignments

To promote the advancement of HiPos, exposing them to business operations at the next level can hold some benefits. These perspectives let them step outside their comfort zones. It gives them a chance to take on greater responsibility and tackle complex issues typically seen at higher levels of management.

Ongoing Feedback and Performance Monitoring

Continuous feedback and regular performance monitoring assist HiPos in staying on the right track and making necessary adjustments to their development plans. This process helps keep these employees on the fast track while building a strong foundation for organizational leadership.

Building an Effective Succession Plan

Developing a succession plan prepares individuals for greater things. But it also involves looking at the organization’s needs with eyes toward the future.

Identifying Key Roles

Succession planning starts by identifying key roles within the organization. These positions sit at the upper echelon. They have considerable influence over operations and overall success. Understanding who stands out as the right fit for these roles helps when charting a course for succession.

Mapping Career Paths

For HiPos, clear career paths should be mapped out. They should show how transition may occur from their current positions to leadership roles. This roadmap needs to account for any foreseeable changes in the individual or the status of the organization.

Integrating with Talent Management

Succession planning comprises one part of an organization-wide talent management strategy, from the beginning. It should mesh with the initial efforts of attracting and retaining the best possible employees. In time, training and performance efforts can be designed with succession in mind.

Key Takeaways

Succession planning helps sustain and strengthen leadership within an organization. Identifying and developing HiPos emerge as important components of the process. By recognizing the diverse skill sets of HiPos and giving them a chance to succeed, organizations can cut a path for strong future leaders.

It takes commitment on a few levels. Organizations must implement reliable methods of identifying and encouraging high-potential employees. They must integrate these efforts into the larger talent management picture. This assimilation makes certain that individual goals follow along with those of the entire business entity.

Does your organization adopt a longer-term view of future leadership needs? If not, don’t wait. Start building your succession plan today by figuring out exactly who meets the definition of high-potential employees—and you’re on the right path. Let CPS HR Consulting get you headed in the right direction.