How effective is your HIPO?

Stacy LakeBy Stacy Lake 2 years agoNo Comments

Developing and retaining high-performing individuals is important for business. It’s a simple fact. Many companies even put official programs in place to foster this base of employees (High Performing Programs, or HIPO Programs) for future success.

And yet, according to a February 2017 Harvard Business Review article (Companies are Bad at Identifying High-Potential Employees), as much as 40% of these high performers may not belong in that category. Surprised to hear that? I know I was.

During a study to evaluate the effectiveness of these HIPO participants, HBR discovered that 12% of HIPO participants were in the organization’s bottom quartile of leadership effectiveness. Digging a bit deeper, the study pointed out that the very characteristics by which many HIPO participants are identified don’t go far enough to take leadership ability into account.

How many of these sound familiar to you and your organization?

• Technical and professional expertise

• Taking initiative and delivering results

• Consistently honoring commitments

• Fitting the organization’s culture

For more insight into each, check out the full HBR article.

Ultimately, these categories can be viewed by what we at Brand Integrity call the balance of Performance and Humanity. The four identified HIPO characteristics place a greater emphasis on performance (ability to achieve goals) than humanity (people-to-people connectivity).


An individual who is too focused on performance can certainly drive results and achieve goals, but can also be viewed as stolid, disconnected, and demotivating.

One who is too far on the humanity side—going to bat for their team and making personal connections—will be “of the people,” but risks being viewed as unreliable and ineffective.

The right balance of both is necessary for being at truly effective and trusted leader, and will build stronger teams for long-term success. Isn’t that the true goal of HIPOs?

The key takeaway here is that organizations need to reevaluate how high performers are identified. No longer is it enough to be a top results driver without the ability to motivate and lead. Today, with evolving work styles, flexible work environments, and multi-generational employee bases, the team members who will drive your company forward should have the ability to live the balance.

Look at how your company identifies high performers. Are you accounting for the balance of performance and humanity?




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