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According to a report from the Institute for Economic Equity, 3.3 million or 7 percent more people retired as of October 2021 than in January 2020. Many of these employees were in leadership roles. In the current employment environment, losing leaders can mean costs to companies.

To help avoid such costs and other negative results from losing leaders, you might want to look at your current leaders and ask them to identify high-potential (HiPo) employees. These employees could be able to step in should leaders leave your company.

Identifying your HiPo employees

A HiPo is someone who has been identified as having the potential, ability, and aspiration for successive leadership positions within the company. Finding a HiPo can be challenging.

The goal in finding HiPos is to develop a pool of employees for a range of executive or management positions, thereby, limiting the chance of having no one ready to step into a leadership role when needed. Once identified, HiPos are often provided with focused development and training as part of a succession plan.

In determining which employees may be HiPos, it is important to remember that just because someone is a high performer in a current position, does not automatically mean the employee will be a high performer in an upper-level position.

The attributes of a successful executive are different from those of a successful manager. While one position requires the individual to be a visionary and see the big picture, the other requires detailed skills to implement policies and procedures. An individual may struggle to shift gears from one set of skills to the other.

To help find HiPos at your company, focus on these S.K.A.T.E. attributes: S: Skills — Look at the types of training the employee has received, how well new information is processed, and whether the employee is skilled at completing projects.

K: Knowledge — Evaluate the employee’s overall knowledge base and how it translates into everyday work. Also, consider getting feedback from peers, vendors, and others.

A: Abilities — Examine the employee’s ability to think outside the box, how well criticism is taken, the ability to think globally, and the dedication to process development.

T: Traits — Consider conducting a personality profile assessment. Look at emotional intelligence and evaluate traits such as empathy, self-awareness, and social skills.

E: Experience — Analyze the employee’s work experience. Look at work history both internally and externally and look for patterns of progressive responsibility.

Key to remember: The process of identifying and classifying the potential of your current employees is the foundation for succession planning. Creating a pool of high-potential employees and focusing on their development now can help avoid issues and costs in the future.