Potential Management

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At a time when experts agree that homegrown talent is especially crucial, why are HR professionals having so much difficulty identifying, retaining and preparing the best and the brightest? Why are so many talented prospects dissatisfied?
First, researchers see a huge divide between what employers think motivates high-potentials and what actually motivates them. Employers cite lists of what “we‘ve given them,” including outstanding remuneration, to demonstrate the strengths of their programs. But attractive pay and
benefits are on a high-potential‘s ” ‗I‘m given‘ list, meaning he or she can replicate them elsewhere fairly easily,” says Roland Smith, lead researcher at the Center for Creative
Leadership in Colorado Springs, Colo. “What they‘re looking for instead are the things that truly differentiate employers. These include opportunities to more directly influence and direct their careers and more-challenging assignments with real risks and rewards.”
It often takes more than compensation, stock and options to retain people, says Raoul Buron, vice president and chief learning officer at Prudential Financial in Newark, N.J. “If I know my career is being managed, that I will be regularly reviewed and given options in choosing my next move, it makes a big difference,” he explains.
Second, high-potentials need smarts and experience to thrive, but ability and seasoning are only part of the recipe. “We know from our benchmarking studies that high-potentials don‘t fail because they lack ability,” says Jean Martin, executive director of the Corporate Leadership
Council. “Most don‘t succeed because they are not engaged and because the assignment they‘re in is not what they want.”