1 in 4 U.S. firms failing to keep high potentials: Survey

Mentorships, coaching, job rotation can boost retention

One in four employers is seen as ineffective in retaining high-potential workers, according to a survey of 562 senior managers and executives by AMA Enterprise in the United States.

While more than one-half are considered somewhat effective at keeping such high-performing contributors, only 18 per cent are very effective, according to the survey.

“Management succession and future leadership are paramount concerns at most companies today,” said Sandi Edwards, senior vice-president at AMA Enterprise. “Yet their efforts to hold onto to their best people often fail. Some organizations make only intermittent attempts to identify their up-and-comers, and it seems that those that do so meet with mixed success.”

Organizations should focus their high-potentials program on leadership development, she said. This should include mentoring or coaching, training, stretch assignments, action projects, cross-functional teaming and job rotation. They should align with the business needs of the organization and desired behaviours should be measured.

Organizations measure the success of their programs in several ways, including positive business results attributed to program participants, reactions of participants, observed behaviour changes of participants and improved performance.

“If a high-potentials program is designed and executed in the right way, the outcomes should be not only retention of participants but also enhanced business performance,” said Edwards.

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