Are programs to identify high
HRRI’S 2011 RESEARCH GRANT RECIPIENTS
EXPLORE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF HIGH
To make an organization’s high potential programs pay off, organizations
need to systemically evaluate the accuracy of their high
potential ID process, review their criteria for leadership potential
and formally train assessors to pick high potential candidates, concludes
Beyond the best and brightest: Addressing the challenge
of identifying high potentials in the workplace – a new research
paper by Len Karakowsky and Igor Kotlyar. To read the report,
please visit bit.ly/I5x9FV.
The report is the end result of research chosen for a 2011 grant
by the Human Resources Research Institute (HRRI).
“The report explores how organizations identify high potential
employees, what happens to individuals when they are identified,
what causes organizations to be satisfied or dissatisfied with their
high potential programs,” said Kotlyar, an assistant professor at
the Faculty of Business and IT at the University of Ontario Institute
“Some interesting things stood out. In the lab, labeling individuals
as high potentials seems affect how they perceive feedback –
especially negative. They may become more sensitive to feedback,
which may have implications for their risk-taking preferences. In
real life situations, when someone is identified, all of a sudden they
get a lot more visibility and there’s more to lose and their perspective
changes,” said Kotlyar.
Kotlyar and Karakowsky, a York University management professor,
also conducted a national survey of HR professionals
around their in-house high potential programs.
“We found they use several perceptual lenses to examine their
high potential programs: identification effectiveness, motivational
aspects and whether the programs are fair and equitable. All three
are relevant. Often you read that programs are purely about identifying
the best. The survey revealed it’s not just about accuracy, but
delivering motivational value and perceived fairness.
“This creates funny interactions. Research shows that performance
in your current job is insufficient for identifying leadership
ability. However, organizations often put a lot of weight on current
performance when identifying high potentials. And it seems like
the reason they do that has to do with that motivational lens – to
ensure the employee continues to perform well in their current
“However, when an organization IDs someone for higher level
leadership positions, it should recognize that the skillsets required
will be different from their current position. They should really be
assessing them for those future skills.”
The team will next look in more detail into how high potential
leaders are being developed, including the effectiveness of leadership
development programs and peer mentoring programs.
As HR Practioners, at any level, we all must
have difficult conversations and deal with
difficult personalities; it is our job, it makes us
who we are and great at what we do!
Our programs provide concrete tools and strategies
to Succeed in Difficult Conversations and Deal with
Check out our programs that are approved for
continuing professional development (CPD) hours
by the Human Resources Professionals Association
Photo by A1Stock / Photos.com
12 ❚ JANUARY 2014 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL