Retaining & Gaining an Edge with HIPOs — 4 Tested & Proven Strategies

Many organizations are looking to improve their leadership bench. As tempting as it may be to look for fresh, new talent, leaders could be overlooking the high potential employees they already have.

Improving a company’s leadership bench is a top priority for 62% of HR leaders, according to a recent Gartner study. However, a whopping 87% of companies aren’t confident that they have a strong bench for the future. This is alarming, considering that fast and strong leadership is necessary for companies to remain competitive. 

Consequently, many CHROs are tempted to source new employees for leadership positions from the outside. They usually target outstanding professionals, but outsiders need time to familiarize themselves with the organization before they can start working their magic. 

Oftentimes, many CHROs don’t consider using their own HIPOs to strengthen their succession pipeline. These HIPOs end up leaving for other organizations, taking valuable talent and productivity with them. The traditional approach to retaining these crucial employees no longer works. Fortunately, the four solutions discussed below work impressively well. 

HIPO Retention Strategies

Organizations with strong succession pipelines grow their revenues and profits twice as fast as organizations with weak pipelines. HIPOs can strengthen an organization’s succession pipeline, which is why CHROs should retain more of these employees. However, many HIPOs are highly likely to be looking for a job elsewhere, and the traditional retention practices don’t work well enough. 

An organization has a better chance of retaining and gaining edge with HIPOs through the following practices: 

Don’t Prioritize External Hires & Forget HIPOs 

Many CHROs rush to hire external superstars when they need to fill positions, as explained. What’s more, some CHROs don’t think to consider HIPOs who may be suited for the role. This gives HIPOs the impression that they are not valued, leaving them feeling disenfranchised. 

HIPOs are diligent and dedicated, as explained. They are also ambitious – two of the five job attributes that appeal to HIPOs are the future career opportunities offered by the organization and the compensation package’s competitiveness. They will not get either unless they climb up the ladder when they deserve to. 

Consequently, 47% of HIPOs feel that internal applicants stand a lesser chance of filling the posted vacancy than external applicants. This is enough motivation to make them apply for better positions with other organizations. 

CHROs can make HIPOs feel included by discussing their career prospects and noting which positions they are interested in. More importantly, CHROs should include HIPOs in the recruitment process. It also helps explain to HIPOs why someone else got the job, but they didn’t – and reassure them of positive future prospects. 


Be Genuinely Sensitive to Their Personal Circumstances 

HIPOs give their best to their roles and responsibilities in the company. They feel (and are) entitled to a little flexibility. Consequently, they expect the company to accommodate their needs and preferences after a life-changing experience. This can be anything from becoming pregnant to falling sick. 

The extent to which a company allows an employee to balance their private and professional lives is one of the five job attributes that attract HIPOs. Consequently, HIPOs who feel that their companies are inflexible are 1.5 times more likely than non-HIPOs to be looking for a job elsewhere. 

Companies can be more flexible to their HIPOs’ needs by conducting periodic stay interviews to learn more about their situations. Stay interviews are meant to give the CHRO an insight into any problems bothering the employee. Consequently, the company can solve these problems before the HIPO gets a better offer with another organization. The show of concern will also help in gaining edge with HIPOs. 


Don’t Overload Them with Collaboration Projects 

HIPOs engage in as many projects as they can, as mentioned. However, everyone needs their space. But many HIPOs report that they have been dealing with 51% more people in their day-to-day work than a 31% increase reported by non-HIPOs. 

Senior leaders pick HIPOs to lead important projects because they trust them to get the job done. However, most leaders don’t consider whether these responsibilities are overwhelming. They often are, as many HIPOs can be tasked with multiple projects simultaneously. Many HIPOs can only take so much, and 45% of those who feel overwhelmed are more likely to look for a less taxing job elsewhere. 

As such, it is advisable to consider how much a high-potential employee has on their plate before assigning them more projects. It is also advisable to coach these employees to balance their work and learn when to reject assignments. This can reduce their likelihood to leave by up to 15%. 


Call Out Toxic Work Culture

The issue of equality is dominating headlines today as more people stand up to discrimination and harassment. HIPOs are well aware of this, as they are observant and tend to keep up with current discussions. 

Many companies have been accused of facilitating or turning a blind eye to gender, ethnic, and racial discrimination. This disgruntles all employees, especially HIPOs, who find the issue sensitive. To this end, as many as 61% of HIPOs who witness or experience harassment at the workplace are more likely to seek employment elsewhere. 

Companies that facilitate, or at the very least, ignore harassment are facing calls for boycotts and experiencing negative press worldwide. As such, it is important to promote equity and respect for everyone at the workplace. Eliminate discriminatory practices and make it clear that harassment will not be tolerated. This will appeal to everyone (including HIPOs) as it will make them feel safe and respected. 

Leaders are Made

Leaders are made, and HIPOs are well on their way to becoming excellent leaders. They can get there quicker with some coaching. But coaching isn’t only for them. In fact, through coaching, even your current leaders can learn how to better handle HIPOs to maximize talent retention, and ultimately, positively impact your bottom line.

Sounding Board is on a mission to make and perfect leaders. We offer virtual and scalable enterprise solutions to meet all of your needs. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help. 

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