Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hip! Hip! Hi-Po!!! ... now what?

Reading this article* in The Glass Hammer, I couldn't resist sharing it with you especially after my piece on this last year (
I’ll highlight things that struck me, my comments are in purple font:

According to Harvard Business Review, companies identify 3-5% of their workforce as “High Potential.” If you have made that list, congratulations! You likely have outstanding technical expertise and an aptitude for strategic thinking. You probably have already delivered strong results, succeeded in various roles, and sought ways to improve processes and efficiency. Although making the list is an achievement in and of itself, it is only the first step. Now, as your journey as a “High Potential” begins, what steps should you take to position yourself for realizing that potential? EW: Indeed it’s one thing to “get on the list” Congrats!!! Now, how do you (plan to) stay on the list? It know how - it's actually as simple as ABC...

Anticipate that “soft” skills will increase in importance. A common mistake is assuming that the same skill set, approach, and behaviors that led you to be named a “High Potential” will also lead to further advancement. EW: In other words, wrongly assuming that what got you there will not keep you there. Your technical skill, strong work ethic, and strategic thinking will likely allow you to continue excelling in your current job, or to make lateral moves. However, additional competencies may be necessary to reach the next level – ones you may need to work on developing. For instance, as ”High Potential” candidates are considered for promotions and stretch assignments, ”soft” skills such as influencing, delegating, networking, and leadership become more important than technical expertise. EW: I know from experience that there is an inverse relationship between “hard” (technical) skills & “soft” (leadership) skills the higher you go. The challenge is making that paradigm shift then start developing or deepening your soft skills.

Become your CEO (Create a written career plan, commit to it, and hold yourself accountable.) This advice applies not only to “High Potentials,” but to all goal-setting. As an ambitious “High Potential,” it will serve you well to reflect on what your goals are and to list tactical actions you can take to achieve them over the short, medium, and long term. Once you determine your target role, identify the gaps in your resume that you need to fill to be able to reach that position. Although this may seem like a daunting task at first, start out by getting the basics on paper. Then, continue to improve your career plan over time. You will get the most out of being a “High Potential” by continuing to invest in improving both your technical and “soft” skills, as guided by the goals outlined in your career plan. EW: If the tactical seems too technical, start with your strategic big picture then break it up into tactical steps.

Consider the positioning – not just the positionTake control of your next career move. Many individuals may assume that the designation as a “High Potential” on an HR alone list will create opportunities. Although some opportunities may come to you, you can increase the likelihood of achieving your goals if you take control of your career. Start networking across divisions and seek projects that increase your visibility. Do all you can to get on the radar of senior leaders who will keep you in mind for a new role before the position officially opens.  EW: Be careful that you don't go boot-licking otherwise, you will remain at people's "feet" & lose any respect that you may have gained on your way up to the Hi-Po list. If you position yourself to be the “slated” candidate for a key role, you will be in a much better place than if you wait for a role to open up and you happen to be one of many applicants. EW: When you apply, your name is familiar to the Hiring Managers & your Manager is aware of your performance and potential.
    As you evaluate different positions for your next move, consider not only the position itself, but what subsequent assignments it could lead to. As a designated “High Potential”, you may be in demand among various groups at your company. When you are targeting a new opportunity, analyze the medium- and long-term career benefits of each option carefully. Look at the career progression of others who have worked in roles similar to the one you are considering. Where are they now? Think about the gaps on your resume that you will need to fill to become a strong candidate for your target position. Will the role you are considering fill some of those gaps? Although it may be difficult to decline a position that seems exciting, if the position does not help you progress toward your specific career goals, it may be best to keep looking. EW: Take the time to ask others for advice or guidance possibly based on their experiences - however, remember the decision and ultimate career is yours.
If you have been identified as a “High Potential,” remember that you are only part of the way to achieving your career goals. Keep these recommendations in mind as you design your strategy and navigate the transitions on your journey toward achieving your full potential as a professional. EW: Keep these tips as the ABCs for moving from Hi-Po to High performer…you have 350 days to get and, most importantly, stay there...

*Excerpts from:
Congratulations! You’ve been identified as a “High Potential.” Now What? by Gabrielle Rapke Hoffman

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