High-Potential Tip: Wow the Boss

i4cp study: Hi-po fast track starts with performance, advances with impression

SEATTLE, WA (March 25, 2009) - A solid work history is more likely to put candidates on the high-potential advancement track if they impress their superiors as well, according to a recent Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) study.

The study found that when it comes to identifying "hi-po" candidates, 86% of organizations overall consider an employee's past performance first, and 77% consider "management confidence" in a candidate's ability to compete for advancement as the second main criterion for selection of high-potential pools in their companies. Sixty-nine percent of respondents reported that employee aspirations for advancement also play a key role.

It does help to wow the top bosses, the study showed. A full 89% of all queried companies say senior leadership is most involved in the identification of hi-po candidates, a figure that rises to 95% in large (10,000 or more employees) companies. Managers and HR are also likely to play a role in the process, with 70% and 63%, respectively of all companies pointing to their involvement in identification, compared with 83% and 72% in large organizations.

As for workers, they can shelve the bluster. Self-nomination for advancement ranked at just 15% overall in consideration for hi-po identification.

"Performance, politics and ambition all play a role," says Mark Vickers, i4cp's VP of research. "It's nice to find that performance comes first, but employees also have to make sure their bosses and even their senior leaders get a good view of that performance. And showing some ambition doesn't hurt either, but it can be overdone. There's a difference between demonstrating you have some aspirations and being the kind of self-promoter that people are always rolling their eyes at."

Among the stumbling blocks to implementing early- career high-potential programs, 36% of respondents overall cited a lack of talent information-sharing among functions (that rises to 55% in large companies), while 31% reported difficulty in forecasting future talent needs. Twenty-six percent cited securing financial resources as a snag, and 24% feel maintaining candidate engagement is an issue.

Regarding the steps involved to select hi-po candidates, most companies (78%) opt for a discussion of high-potential talent by senior leadership as the main determinant. A manager nomination process is considered by 67% of respondents.

In most companies, the hi-po identification process doesn't begin immediately. Fifty-seven percent of polled companies say entry-level professionals are considered for the process after two to five years on the job. And, most companies value their hi-po identification process. Overall, 39% reported that such identification has a "somewhat high" to "high" value in their organizations, a figure that rises to 46% in large companies.

The 2009 High-Potential Pulse Survey was conducted by i4cp in March 2009. The total number of respondents was 388. The full results of the survey are available exclusively for all i4cp corporate members.

About i4cp, inc.

i4cp is the world's largest vendor-free network of corporations focused on improving workforce productivity. Our vendor-free community facilitates innovation by giving our members - among the largest and most respected organizations in the world - access to:
  1. Peers to spark new ideas and prevent "reinventing the wheel,"
  2. Research to enable members to understand current practices and next practices,
  3. Tools to put ideas and research into action,
  4. Technology to enable members to easily access tailored information and execute workforce strategies.
With more than 40 years of experience and the industry's largest team of human capital analysts, i4cp is the definitive destination for organizations seeking innovative ways to improve workforce productivity. For more information, visit http://www.i4cp.com/
Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.