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High Potential: Advancing our Talent Practices

Author: Garrick Throckmorton– Chief Product and Services Officer

It is fair to say that the “War for Talent,” a term coined by Steven Hankin of McKinsey and Company in 1997 was lost. This “war” was characterized by increasing demands and decreasing supply of talent against our organizational needs. Jump to 2016 where Mercer’s 2016 Talent Trends stated that 85% of organizations report that their talent management programs need an overhaul as a proof point that our approach to solving for this challenge had room to improve. Taking one more leap to 2020, and the Talent Trends report shows HR leaders rank “transforming talent practices” as their #2 priority behind “improving the employee experience” which are both interconnected.

This data paints a high-level picture of the opportunity we have to advance our approach to talent management/practices as we move forward. At TeamTelligent, we think that one of the most critical levers we can pull in advancing our talent practices, is to have a systematic way in which we use science to verify and validate high potential talent.

Verified high potentials are “wired and made” in a different way than a majority of the population. When ambiguity and complexity builds (i.e. a pandemic), they rush towards the chaos which is energizing. They see the opportunity to problem solve, to find new efficiencies, to fine tune their skills and wrest meaning of the learnings that will occur. If your organization had verified high potentials, the pandemic created one of the greatest opportunities to accelerate their development through this extreme learning opportunity.

How are high potentials “wired” or “made” in a different way than most? They have an in-common set of KSA’s that they display at higher levels than the general population. After all, we contend that at most, 10% of people, identified early in their careers, given the proper development, along a mostly known path, can learn to lead successfully at the top. These 4 areas of in-common KSA’s are broken down below.

  1. Conceptual Complexity and IQ – They have the intellectual horsepower to do complex job well leveraging associates reasoning and conceptual complexity. They see patterns, recognize them quickly and connect learnings together that others do not see as well. Ultimately, they are dot-connectors. IQ alone will not make you a high potential, but it does get you to the door.
  2. Achievement Drive – They are motivated. They want achievement. They need it. This shows up in their display of curiosity and aspirational tendency. The urge to do great things is palpable and they are not scared to step into situations that require sacrifices and the vulnerability to learn. High achievement drive along also does not make you a high potential. However, combined with IQ, we are getting somewhere.
  3. Emotional Intelligence – EQ’s development is high time dependent. Over a career you will encounter a wide array of people and personalities. The ability to have the adaptable relational skills to partner/leverage others to get things done is a skill that develops through opportunities over time. High IQ + Achievement alone can create a trail of dead bodies. Add in high EQ, and we have the beginning of a special type of potential but are still not quite there yet.
  4. Learning Agility – The willingness and ability to learn from the lessons of life and experience and apply those lessons across exposures is vital for high potentials. Learning agility is not highly related to IQ and includes having an intention, a mindset towards learning. Learning is seen as an opportunity to grab building blocks over time on a larger journey.

Our research-based approach to high potentials allows our partners to put their fingers on the science high potential identification, verification and then development in order to overhaul this vital part of their talent practices. Of course, the entire approach ensures that all 4 key in-common KSA’s about are taken into consideration.

Learn more about our High Potential solutions, and the entire suite of talent management tools!

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