"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.