Why You Should Consider The “High Commitments” Over High Potentials

Murad Salman Mirza

Within progressive organizations, high-potential (HIPO) employees have been the mainstay of many talent management and succession planning system. Their elevated status from the general workforce often is seen as an affirmation of the qualities needed to fill critical leadership positions in the organizational hierarchy. However, such talent segmentation is also, often thecause of deep misgivings among their peers, and is widely seen as a latent way of rewarding “conformist” behaviors that hinder the “dissentient” nature required to boost innovation for staying relevant in a digital world.

The term “potential” itself signifies a penchant for risk, gamble, and uncertainty on predominantly “lagging” performance indicators. It also projects a more refined version of the dreaded “normal distribution curve” used to weed out the lowest performers within the talent pipelines. That frequently has been blamed for sapping the morale of diligent employees and incentivizing cannibalization of peer careers to secure sanctuaries in the “safer” zones of the respective talent mapping technique.

Such divisive measures inevitably create negative energy within a workplace that is manifested in several ways, including abrasive friction among peers, profound distrust of leaders, faked engagement in organizational initiatives, a hyperactive grapevine in corporate corridors, corrosive politics seamed within the organizational fabric, escalating attrition among disillusioned employees, damaged psychological contracts reflecting crumbling aspirations, and marginalization of inspiration triggers.

Proponents of the HIPO approach are quick to point out several advantages that have ensured its place within talent management initiatives. Let’s do a brief analysis of the more common attributes propagated in the defense of having HIPO programs, as follows:

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