People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 31

What to do about misplaced
participants in a HiPo Program

There are two broad categories of individuals who are misplaced in HiPo programs:
One group includes those who are simply there prematurely. They have not had the experience or time to acquire the
skills, knowledge, and attitudes that the organization needs to
have in a senior leader. Many in this group could acquire these
skills given time and the right developmental opportunities.
We'll call this group "Premature."
The second group lacks the necessary skills and attitudes
and give no signs of acquiring them, nor of a strong motivation
to be elevated to more senior positions. We'll use the shorthand term "Misplaced" to describe this group.

Working with different categories
of misplaced HiPos

The organization should treat both groups respectfully, but
they should anticipate different outcomes. Participating in a
company HiPo program usually carries with it some benefits,
and should also entail correlative responsibility. Every participant should have a personal plan of development that includes
specific steps, milestones, and some measurement of progress.
That plan should be regularly monitored by either the participant's immediate manager or the executive responsible for the
HiPo program. Ongoing participation in the company's HiPo
program should carry the expectation that it is producing
measurable benefit.
Most organizations use their 360-degree feedback information exclusively for the individual's development in the Premature group. It is not used for promotion or compensation
assessments. However, asking a HiPo if they would like a coach
to work with them in developing their development program is
logical. Suggesting that an important source of useful data for
that discussion is available in their past 360-degree feedback is
also logical and justifiable.
The best measure of progress is to have a repeat 360-degree feedback assessment that measures the progress being
made by the individual. If the participant is in the Premature
group, their progress can be measured. This group should
have a variety of formal developmental experiences available
that address specific needs. These could range from topics
such as problem-solving skills, presentation and writing skills,

financial acumen, and/or coaching skills.
Other assessments that some firms use include psychometric tests and in-depth interviews with a professionally trained
psychologist. Both can be valuable in providing insight. We
conducted research on the predictive power of a highly
respected psychological test battery. While two scales were
predictive, the 360-degree feedback instrument was 4.7 times
more effective in predicting potential ratings. The effectiveness of assessments via in-depth interviews is highly dependent on the experience and skill of the interviewer. That is
why we place greater stock in the results of the multi-rater
(360-degree) feedback process.
Conversely, if the individual is making no progress, then
this signals to them and the organization that they are Misplaced.
Some organizations inform members of the HiPo group
that they are officially in it. Many do not. If people have not
been told, then moving them out is simple. If they have been
told, there needs to be a carefully explained rationale for taking them out of the HiPo pool.

Conclusion

We are concerned that many individuals currently in the HiPo
program of their organization may not belong there. One
consequence is that the organization is lulled into thinking
they have a pipeline of leadership talent, which is far less than
they believe. The organization may be investing resources
unwisely and ignoring others who have greater potential. Those
with poor leadership skills can develop, but the majority of
those with poor skills don't realize their deficiency. Accurate
assessments can help HiPos understand their current strengths
and weaknesses and allow them to develop the skills they are
lacking.
Just as getting a product to market quickly has advantages,
identifying HiPo leaders early in their career does as well. It
affords the organization the time and opportunities for developmental assignments. Fine tuning a company's HiPo program
requires a rigorous selection process. The process separates
the larger group of people currently performing in a stellar
way from those who have the potential to function well at the
most senior levels because of their leadership skills, keen intellect, aspirations for higher levels, comfort with power, intellectual curiosity, and ability to think strategically and energize the
people they manage.
Jack Zenger, D.B.A., is the CEO of Zenger Folkman.  He is the author
or coauthor of 12 books on leadership development and 187 articles
and blogs.  His career has spanned academic, corporate, and entrepreneurial roles over the past 55 years.  He received ATD's Lifetime
Achievement Award and was inducted into the HR Hall of Fame.  He
can be reached at www.zengerfolkman.com.
Joe Folkman is cofounder and president of Zenger Folkman. He
holds a doctorate in social and organizational psychology as well as
a master's degree in organizational behavior. He has over 30 years of
experience consulting work with some of the world's most prestigious and successful organizations. He is the author and coauthor of
nine books and has a blog on both HBR and Forbes.
VOLUME 41 | ISSUE 1 | WINTER 2018

31


http://www.zengerfolkman.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1

From The Executive Editor
From The Guest Editors
Perspectives
So You Want to Be a High-Potential?
How to Identify and Grow High Potentials: A CEO’s Perspective with Proven Results
Getting the Right People in the Hi-Po Pool
Wherefore Art Thou All Our Women High-Potentials?
Are Your HiPos Overrated?
Executive Roundtable
In First Person
Linking Theory + Practice
Insight into Action
Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover1
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover2
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 1
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 2
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 3
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - From The Executive Editor
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - From The Guest Editors
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 6
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 7
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Perspectives
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 9
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 10
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 11
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 12
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 13
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 14
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 15
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 16
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - So You Want to Be a High-Potential?
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 18
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 19
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 20
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 21
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - How to Identify and Grow High Potentials: A CEO’s Perspective with Proven Results
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 23
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 24
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 25
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 26
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 27
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Getting the Right People in the Hi-Po Pool
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 29
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 30
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 31
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Wherefore Art Thou All Our Women High-Potentials?
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 33
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 34
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 35
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 36
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 37
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Are Your HiPos Overrated?
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 39
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 40
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 41
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Executive Roundtable
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 43
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 44
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 45
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 46
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 47
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - In First Person
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 49
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Linking Theory + Practice
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 51
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 52
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 53
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Insight into Action
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 55
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 57
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 58
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover3
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover4
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