It is the best of times for HIPO programs. It is the worst of time for HIPO programs.
On the one hand, they are extremely popular with HR, and ExecOnline’s clients. Our certificate programs are included in dozens of HIPO programs at our client companies. Every week at ExecOnline, we talk with many companies who want to start new HIPO programs that have never had them before or rehab programs that are getting “stale”.
On the other hand, they are also a major source of frustration for HR, and for many good reasons.
They are often:
Too elite — Our own internal surveys show 54% of learning leaders want to train more HIPOs, but they often don’t, typically for cost. That might not be a problem except for the fact that 55% of HIPOs, according to CEB, will leave in 5 years. What’s the point of creating an elite group of leaders if they are going to be some other companies’ elite?
Too slow to deploy — Let’s face it: the word “high potential” is loaded and political. As soon as it’s introduced, you can feel the momentum slow to a crawl as the organization has to go through the very political process of choosing HIPOs. That makes sense for our succession plans — but why are we killing ourselves trying to define the perfect HIPO if many are going to leave? Shouldn’t we cast a broader net if we can build more scalable programming?
Not agile enough — If there’s one thing I hear the most about HIPO programs is that they are stale, stale, stale. Sometimes they get stale a year after you build them. They need to keep up with how the world’s changing, but L&D staff is lean like never before and doesn’t have the time to update them.
For some of our clients, it’s enough that they are eliminating the HIPO program or considering it.
Actually, they aren’t. Not really. Just the old version of it.
What they are actually doing is moving away from the word HIPO, democratizing the program (opening it up to more rising leaders), and designing in more flexibility to get it right as things change. That way you move fast, you train a robust group of leaders, and you can keep them fresh and aligned.
To do so, you need world-class scalable content that easily slots in and out of your HIPO program (like ExecOnline’s certificate programs with elite universities), and excellent metrics to understand what’s working and what’s not — two of the hallmarks of our HIPO process design process at ExecOnline.
If you are interested in learning more about what makes a world-class HIPO program, please contact us at 844-400-EXEC. We will schedule some time for you to meet with one of our advisors to walk you through leading edge HIPO designs and insights based on what we’ve seen across a client base of more than 200+ companies.