"Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie, a fly can't bird, but a bird can fly."
This little play on words comes from a poem in the Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff and plays with the idea that while one thing shares a characteristic or quality of another, the second thing is not necessarily equal to the first. The point taken further says that we all have an “inner nature” and that one’s “inner nature” needs to be recognized. There is another phrase that relates, which is that, “square pegs are not made for round holes.”
Let's apply that idea to talent management. In understanding the differences between high performers and high potentials, let's use a similarly structured phrase to say, "a high performer is not a necessarily a high potential, but a high potential is a high performer." High potentials are frequently mistaken for those who are excelling in their current duties. However, CEB says " only 1 in 7 high performers have the critical motivation and behaviors to be considered a true HIPO." They go on to talk about how real high potential employees are the middle section of the Venn diagram where aspiration, ability and engagement overlap.
This article discusses how to properly identify and assess high potentials, considers the value of having an “assessment center” and provides some ideas on how that could work inside organizations.
Too many programs focus their efforts on the wrong people, which results in wasted resources, very similar to selecting the wrong employee for an expatriate assignment.
The critical element in the selection of these individuals is a formal and targeted assessment center that focuses on business simulations that reflect the realities of a particular industry and identify the leadership behaviors that align with an organizations objectives. The value of an assessment center in the hi-po selection process can be significant both in the identification of talent as well as the fairness of the selection process. An assessment center can expose participants to business simulation exercises that will provide a fair and competitive environment where targeted leadership behaviors can be observed and measured. Group exercises allow for observations related to innovation, team orientation and assertiveness.