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The Effectiveness of High-Potential Employee Programs

High-potential (HIPO) employees find themselves in the top 5% within an organisation, based on their individual performances. They are considered the company’s most prized assets and are being tipped-off to go into leadership positions. But this is easier said than done. In most cases, organisations develop HIPO programs in order to train their best employees in becoming future leaders.

Although high-potential employee programs might seem like the perfect solution, over 40% of the people participating do not belong there, according to the data analysed by the Harvard Business Review (HBR). The information gathered by HBR consists of 1,964 high potential employees, from 3 distinct companies, who have measured their leadership abilities through 360° assessments. Feedback is immediate, with analysis reports being developed almost instantly. This type of assessment is done when organisations wish to measure capabilities such as low turnover, employee engagement and high productivity. Obviously, the better the score, the better the outcome.

When looking at the data gathered from the participants in the HIPO programs, the results were outlandish. 12% of them found themselves in the lowest quadrant in leadership effectiveness; resulting in an overall 42% below average. They’re not in the top 5% anymore, not by a mile.

What about the quality of the HIPO programs that are running in your company? There are a couple of mistakes that may come along the way in regards to these programs:

  1. Performance doesn’t equal potential: HIPO programs tend to focus too much on performance and that generally leads to problems in today’s ever changing business climate. First of all, most companies do not know how to measure performance given the fact that if subjective ratings are eliminated, there are very few metrics left to count on. Secondly, even if the right parameters are chosen to measure performance, most top performers cannot handle or are simply not prepared for the next level. The transition from being a simple employee to a manager, or from a manager to a leader, requires abilities most people haven’t been trained for before. Plus, there is always the possibility that HIPO employees focus on solving problems or an all-round team player. Unfortunately, this leads to people placed in jobs they are not able or do not want to perform. It is absolutely vital to understand that performance represents what you do and potential is simply what you COULD do. If you are really good at doing X this doesn’t mean you will be great at doing Y – X and Y here being two distinct activities.
  2. HIPO’s have their weaknesses: Here, the Pareto principle fits the bill quite perfectly. If you don’t know what the Pareto principle is, here is the explanation: 20% of employees make up for 80% of the company’s revenues and profits. Based on this idea, it is clear that 20% of employees cause 80% of the problems within an organisation. Coincidentally or not, they are most often than not, the same employees. HIPO personnel, who generally know their worth, are frequently more difficult to manage. Nevertheless, no matter how astute these people are, they tend to have a dark side as well. In this scenario, the HR department has to intervene. Unfortunately, when it does intervene, the focus is on improving their existing qualities which leaves out their other personality problems to roam free. Overworked strengths have a tendency to become weaknesses and that is not good news for any organisation.

It is a well-known fact that a top performer may start having difficulties at his job when he is placed in a leadership role. It is clear he may perform well in one company but he cannot have the same impact and results in another organisation. It all depends on his vision and leadership, and these qualities are not easy to find.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

We help you find the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. The GR8 360° tool is excellent at developing managerial competencies, skills and behaviours. When using this assessment, you will find over 50 dimensions that come along with suggestions for future improvement and development. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

 

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Sources:

www.hbr.org

www.dcebglobal.com

www.forbes.com

Skill Gap: Why is it still a Major Concern (Part 2)

This article is part of a series. For part 1 click here.

There is a steady decline in the U.S. system’s possibility of nurturing these midlevel skills, due to the fact that automation is cutting down the need for low-skilled workers. Luckily, there are local initiatives which are trying to address the respective skill gap in their areas.

A good example on how to narrow the skill gap is represented by internships specifically tailored to college graduates in order to meet the more evolving needs of today’s employers. Some university programs include the so-called “cooperative degree programs” also known as co-ops. This type of approach will allow both employers and future graduates to assess the market and their specific place in the world of work. Employers have the chance to evaluate skills such as: employee attitude and work ethic, but also offering their training to their temporary recruits, specifically tailored to the organisation’s needs. These co-ops and internships help students earn their necessary credit in order to graduate, earn proper work experience, and best of all getting them to apply classroom studies in the real business world.

For over 20 years, there has been a shortage of “transferable” workplace skills, and although there have been many initiatives in terms of laws, guidelines and goals, not many problems have been resolved.

These “transferable” workplace skills have represented a real problem for the private sector for the past 20 years. HR managers have stopped putting too much emphasis on skills such as reading literacy and computational aptitude. In today’s workplace, soft skills are dominating the office needs, and they are as follows: interpersonal and intrapersonal knowledge, time management, ethics, teamwork, personal organisation, interpersonal communication, problem solving, anger management and reasoning.

At a global scale, Millennials display unique attributes that conflict with society and the idea of work as it currently stands. This group of people have spent their entire or nearly entire life connected to technology, rapid accessibility of information and a permanent connection with family and friends. Straight from birth, Millennials have been told they are special and they were rewarded nearly instantaneously for even the smallest of accomplishments.

Millennials are much better equipped to handle active learning that can teach them metacognitive skills. Such operating systems are being beta-tested as we speak, in order to assure the teaching of a higher-order and analytical skills. In the United States, the successful applications of e-learning for workplace training are expected to be introduced into the K-12 curricula where they are foreseen to shrink the metacognitive skill gap in public schools. Games and simulations offer a great basis for education and training, with at least 45% of Millennials being active learners.

In approximately 10 years, companies everywhere will move all types of employee training programs towards the online. Nowadays, distance education done through e-learning is just a stepping stone towards a new structure of education.

The level of information a worker can acquire at the workplace takes half the time compared to the classical classroom delivery, thus retention can be increased by 30% and the cost of training can be reduced by 40%. There will be a quick and positive ROI because employee efficiency is substantially increased.

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How to attract and retain great salespeople

In the age of the customer, the consumers have gained significantly more knowledge and control over the sales process than any time in history – they have a huge variety of options available, they are digitally active and they are less dependent upon the sales representatives, and their expectations match up their investment. While the customers’ habits and behaviours have changed, the universal sales strategies have remained basically the same.

In a recent research study done by Cranfield Management School, it has been revealed that 90% of the people working in sales are facing major difficulties in making an effective pitch. That is why good sales reps represent a competitive advantage for every business, if they have them.

Also in regard to people in sales, David Thorp, the director of research and professional development at the Chartered Institute of Marketing had this to say: “First-rate salespeople are focused and can target potential customers effectively. They understand which customers have the money, authority and need to buy from them.” He continued stating that “They also build strong relationship with customers, which is key to customer retention. It is worth investing the time and the money in getting good staff, as they will be able to add much more to an organisation’s bottom line than poor sales staff, which can be a liability.”

The selection you make regarding sales people will determine the success of your organisation. If you are willing to invest time in the selection process, this will solve half of the sales job. Competent sales reps know how to highlight the numerous benefits of your product or service. These people are skilled in detecting possible prospects and quick in surmounting any objections that may come along the way. Sales professionals are able to sell effectively in the most adverse situations and even in the world of cut-throat competition. What makes them so efficient is the fact that they possess an internal drive towards achievement, a fantastic sense of seriousness to sort everything out and accomplish their goals, even when the external factors are detrimental to their cause.

As mentioned above, the selection process is very tedious, but extremely important. This means that even if you find a good sales rep that doesn’t mean you found the most suitable candidate for your organisation. When selecting, there are two key aspectsthat you must take into account, besides the person’s capability to sell:

  1. Is that person compatible with the company’s culture? – If the candidate and the rest of your team do not get along, then it’s crystal clear you do not wish to hire that person. As soon as your sales numbers grow, this will involve support from the other departments in your company. If the departments despise sales, it is absolutely certain you won’t get the profit you expect due to the fact that the sales department won’t receive the help it needs.
  2. Does the candidate understand what exactly are you selling? – If a sales rep doesn’t understand what your organisation is selling, how can you expect them to sell anything? Although they may get lucky a few times, you must be certain that they acknowledge what the company is selling.

In order to get an idea of what a good salesperson is, I recommend you start evaluating every encounter you have as a customer. What are those people doing that makes you feel comfortable about doing business with them? Learning to detect good sales reps represents the first step and it is of upmost importance.

Thoroughly Evaluate your Sales Team

Although sales are an area where results speak for themselves, you must also evaluate the process through which your team does make the sale – it is obviousthat if they don’t have good results, something in their sales process is not working accordingly.

In order to solve this problem, evaluate how your team implements every sales process from start to finish. Afterwards, you can properly assess where they are struggling, why, and help them through coaching. It will greatly benefit them by developing their skills to overcome each step necessary them develop their skills for each step necessary.

Use a Sales assessment for your team

For a proper assessment of your sales force, you need to weigh in your current staff, but also candidates you wish to hire. If you do this in an effective manner, you will know for certain that every sales rep you bring in will possess all the necessary personality attributes to perform at a top level and have high sales results.

One of best ways, if not the best way, to evaluate your staff and candidates is to use assessments such as: GR8 Sales, GR8 Teams and GR8 Engagement. The questions and issues raised by these evaluations will help you determine if the candidates have at least one of these traits:

  • Building Client Relationships
  • Sales Process Management
  • Understanding clients’ needs
  • Enthusiasm
  • Loyalty
  • Respect
  • Perseverance

If the candidates you evaluate score high in at least one of these traits, that means he is a driven individual and there is a great amount of opportunity for success as a “hunter” representative of your sales department. Afterwards, you can have another interview with him in order to be sure that person fits to your organisational culture, thus making an informed decision about a future employee.

How to Improve your Sales Team Results

Offer them as much constructive feedback as possible. You cannot expect your team to improve if they are unaware of the mistakes they are making. This is the reason why it is imperative to have regular meetings with them to offer them support and advice on how they are performing.

When you offer your thoughts on their progress make sure you include both the positive and the negative feedback. In order for your team to improve, they must realise that besides their strengths they also have weaknesses. Nonetheless, keep in mind that negative feedback is for one-on-one meetings only. If you criticise a salesperson in front of his colleagues, he may start resenting you, start working poorly and have a low level of engagement. If this takes place one too many times, high employee turnover is right around the corner, and it can cost your organisation a large sum of money.

Present your team with the best tools and resources for them to thrive

After you evaluate and assess your sales team, by now, you should have a clear idea regarding the areas they are struggling at that moment. Given the fact you have this information, search for the right tools and resources your team requires in order to help them surmount the deficiencies they are encountering.

Let’s say one of your employees is experiencing problems with productivity because he cannot allocate the necessary time for sales calls. For him to overcome this problem, you can research for the right type of scheduling programme to best fit your team’s needs. However, there are situations where your whole team can struggle with productivity. In this scenario, you may have to analyse their working process and establish which tasks can be automated. Implement the automation, leaving your team with more time to sell and less time on unrelated tasks.

The examples I have presented you are just a few ideas of how you can improve your team’s performance, but be aware of the fact that each sales team and person is unique and have their own particular needs. So as to pinpoint the exact problems faced by your team, remember to communicate with them constantly and assist them in finding the best solutions for the best sales results.

Assessing the salespeople, developing them and aligning the sales strategies should become a top priority for the organisations willing to thrive in the customer’s age. Great People Inside helps you find the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

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Sources:

www.marketingdonut.com.uk

www.entrepreneur.com

www.nasp.com

www.salesdrive.info

www.quicksprout.com