HIGH POTENTIAL   or   PROMOTABLE?           Can you tell the difference?

HIGH POTENTIAL or PROMOTABLE? Can you tell the difference?


Can you tell the difference?

Confusing High Potential with Promotability is both common and dangerous. Less than 30% of current high performers have the requisite potential to succeed in more senior, and often crucial roles3. Simply put, even when excellent, current performance is not future proof. This is especially true when the new position involves greater complexity, unpredictability, faster change, and where established practices may be of little use. All areas related to talent (identification, acquisition, development, expectations of leadership, retention) are inevitably affected by mistakes regarding potential. Without realizing it, organizations may be sabotaging their own goals. For examples, one global study found that of the employees selected for talent pools, only 29% were actually high potential4. Even more to the point, 71% of high performers are not high potential, while 93% of high potential employees are also high performers5. Getting talent right cannot be overemphasized.

WARNING # 1: Sticking with traditional talent approaches (e.g., the obsolete 9-box-grid) significantly raises the chance of promoting someone beyond his or her capability.

WARNING #2: Over-promotion invites failure and even disaster for some organizations. It may be counter-intuitive, but research indicates many companies over-value experience.

WARNING #3: Hiring or promoting someone based on experience vs. potential often means unknowingly eliminating the best candidates right from the outset.  [illustrative case example here]


1.  Can we tell when an employee who is currently successful has peaked (reached their ceiling performance)?

2. Do we really know what abilities and traits are needed to effectively lead now and in the future in our increasingly complex market?

3.  Do we know why our high potentials leave, and what it would take for them to stay?

4.  Can we prevent promotion failures and loss of key future leaders?

5.  Are we over-valuing past performance and overlooking valuable high-potentials?

Remember, while successful employees may be promotable to the next step, it is those employees with true high-potential who are equipped to successfully lead your organization through the unknowns of tomorrow. Contact us at TPC–we have the unique expertise to help you answer these key questions and provide you with solutions so you can differentiate promotability and potential. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Source information:  1PriceWatershouseCooper,  2 Aberdeen Group,   3 Corporate Executive Board,
4 Dolezalek, Training,   5 Corporate Executive Board


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