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Let’s Get Down to People, Business! Five Reasons to Invest in Your HiPos


Yes, you read that title right. You may be thinking, “shouldn’t we be getting down to business?” and you would not be alone.  We often see organizations rife with folks who have advanced based on their individual success in business and/or have graduated from the top business schools where they excel with a focus on strategy, revenue, bottom line, forecasting, analytics, and keeping investors happy. They are comforted by red, yellow and green progress updates on the quarterly scorecard, P&L, balanced budgets – all sensible measurements telling them how far off they are from guidance and planning. But these skills alone are not enough to engage and motivate the teams of people responsible for working together to execute on the strategy. We are caught in a vicious cycle where senior leaders are promoted based on business success alone, and in turn they are keen to focus on the tangible and quantitative rather than the often more difficult measures that comprise a great culture. The phrase, “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” comes to mind. We are in a decades-long war for talent, and in order to attract and retain the best talent to execute on the strategy, business must also invest in fostering a culture where the talent can grow and thrive. Culture and strategy must coexist, but when push comes to shove it is culture that quickly gets devalued.  Investment in cultural initiatives, like leadership and high potential development programs gets rejected because the measurements are not as clear, and ROI can be challenging to calculate.

Now, according to Klaus Schwab,
we’re facing the fourth industrial revolution which has already begun to shape
the way we live and work – with no deceleration or end in sight. The rate and
pace of change in technology is staggering and requires leaders and teams to
operate in what has been coined a VUCA environment (volatile, uncertain,
complex, and ambiguous). And here’s the kicker – without a strategy for developing
current and future leaders to help them and their teams prepare for the waves
of change that will continue to wash over us, these organizations will fall
behind on strategy, revenue, bottom line, forecasting, analytics, and keeping
investors happy.

Talent development initiatives help employees grow, align to your culture and increase engagement, which is central to attracting and keeping your top talent. If you do not have an intentional strategy to address and measure engagement you NEED one. Engagement is the amount of discretionary effort an employee willingly contributes, and it can be impacted several ways – most effectively and most often by the direct manager. Managers and leaders can connect their people to the heart of the business and each employee’s own raison d’etre.  Millennials, who will make up 75% of the workplace by 2025, thrive with regular feedback on their performance, personalized development opportunities, and clarity around career goals.  Most managers are not equipped and do not feel comfortable providing this level of support, and instead of trying, they ignore it all together. In the Gig economy, also a product of the fourth industrial revolution, when a savvy employee can be their own boss and work on projects that they connect to and find meaning in – why should they give you their precious time?

Tl;dr: you need talented employees to meet your business goals and be successful, and talent needs to be nurtured in order to be engaged and grow. Here are five reasons to invest in your leaders and HiPos:

  1. Connect the dots – custom development programs and talent initiatives align your culture, values and desired leadership traits, and helps them see how it aligns to their own.
  2. Keep the momentum – event-based interventions and training alone are not enough. Offering 1×1 coaching for targeted development and to track progress contributes to ongoing development,  and research has shown that training combined with coaching increases productivity 400% over training alone.
  3. Tell your story – development programming is another opportunity for you to build your brand, which contributes to attracting and retaining great talent.
  4. Grow your bench – prepare the next generation of leaders to seamlessly step into roles with greater responsibilities.  Showing your top talent how they can have career progression and internal opportunities keeps them engaged and fosters a culture of talent-focused leaders; nurture your future leaders so they can nurture their teams.
  5. You’ve got a lot to lose – costs of sourcing, hiring, and onboarding great talent ADD UP, and if they don’t feel valued by you, they will take their expertise and your investment somewhere they’ll feel more valued.

What now?

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And, if you’d like to know more about how you can unlock the potential in your High Potential employees in a safe, sustainable and scalable way, please visit, or join our mailing list.

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