How to Identify and Retain the People Who Can Really Make a Difference to Your Business?

It takes more than a high-potential programme to build a truly robust leadership pipeline that can deliver business advantage. What are the five steps every organisation must take?

How to Identify and Retain the People Who Can Really Make a Difference to Your Business?

22 Jul 2016 by  Nick Tucker

In the 2014 Aon Hewitt Top Companies for Leaders® research, we found a number of distinct commonalities amongst market-leading organisations—demonstrating that a well-executed strategy to identify and retain high-potential employees can greatly impact an organisation’s ability to be successful and consistently outperform on key financial metrics.

However, the disconnection between intention and impact shows that simply having a high-potential programme is not enough to provide a source of competitive advantage.

How can your organisation cultivate your high-potential talent in just five steps?

Step 1: Align high-potential identification to business strategy
The foundation of any effective talent management process is alignment to business strategy. By demonstrating a deep integration between their leadership competency model and high-potential identification process (through assessment and development plans), top companies are empowering their high-potential talent to make a significant difference to business.

Top companies also identify high-potential talent earlier in their careers, and continuously calibrate their high-potential talent pool to ensure that their investments in these individuals remain relevant.

Step 2: Validate the identification process to ensure that it predicts high performance
In the Asia Pacific region, 95% of organisations evaluate their employees using a talent review process. However, top companies are more likely to use psychometric assessments for high-potential talent identification (80%) when compared to other organisations (49%). The effective implementation of assessments enables top companies to gain accurate insight into the alignment of an individual’s character, capability and motivation (or ‘potential’) with the strategic requirements of their organisation.

Step 3: Develop employees through experience to be “ready now”
According to Stomski & Attkisson (2013), readiness to move is typically categorised into three stages: ready now (less than 1 year), ready soon (1-3 years) and ready future (more than 3 years).

Typically, top companies ask themselves, “What skills, experience and knowledge does this employee require before taking on an expanded role?”. And more importantly, “How do we provide exposure to develop those skills, experiences and knowledge?” Top companies also distinguish themselves by offering individualised development planning more than other organisations (94% versus 74%).

Step 4: Retain high-potential employees through differentiated total rewards
Total Rewards is defined as everything that an employee receives from their employer that they find rewarding (for example, remuneration, formal employee benefits, work-life balance, career development, and recognition). Optimise pay outcomes for high potentials, understand their unique preferences, and communicate the total rewards offer clearly so as to create a compelling employment experience for your high potentials.

Step 5: Evaluate the effectiveness of your approach
There are numerous ways of evaluating the effectiveness of a high-potential talent strategy. Some common examples are performance ratings, analysing promotion and retention rates, and implementing formal leadership accountability—where individual leaders are more likely to be held accountable for the careers of the high-potential talent that they manage.

Read more in our white paper: Cultivating high-potential talent in five practical steps

Start a conversation with us

To find out how we can help your organisation implement this five-step approach to get the most out of your high-potential employees, get in touch with us today.

Nick Tucker

Nick Tucker is a Consultant in Aon Hewitt's Talent, Rewards & Performance practice. He specialises in the areas of employee engagement, assessment for selection and development, and leadership effectiveness partnering with some of Australia’s largest organisations to reduce their people risk and achieve superior business results.

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