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One in Four Companies Fails to Keep High-Potential Employees

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10/18/2011

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.

While more than half are considered “somewhat effective” at keeping such high-performing contributors, only 18% are “very effective,” according to the findings.

In your opinion, how effective is your organization in retaining high-potential employee?
Very effective   18%
Somewhat effective  56%
Ineffective  26%

“Management succession and future leadership are paramount concerns at most companies today,” said Sandi Edwards, Senior Vice President for AMA Enterprise, a specialized division of American Management Association that offers advisory services and tailored learning programs to organizations. “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.”

According to Edwards, organizations should focus their high-potentials program on leadership development. “Talented, motivated individuals need to be developed in a number of ways including mentoring or coaching, training, stretch assignments, action projects, cross-functional teaming and job rotation. Naturally such programs should align with the business needs of the organization. Finally, employers must measure the desired behaviors and calculate success.”
Organizations measure the success of their programs in several ways, according to the findings.

How does your organization measure the success of your high-potential program? (Choose as many as apply.)
Positive business results attributed to program participants 46%
Reactions of program participants 43%
Observed behavior changes of program participants 42%
Improved performance of program participants 41%

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

“Transparency should be the watch word. When selection criteria are a big secret, eligibility is ambiguous or high-potential participants themselves are left to wonder what happens next in the program. This lack of transparency relates directly to why many organizations find it hard to hold onto their high-value talent. Finally, employees must align such programs with the business needs of the organization, recognize results and celebrate successes to ensure sustainable growth,” said Edwards.

AMA Enterprise conducted the online survey in order to explore policies and attitudes regarding high-potential programs. The survey population consisted primarily of senior-level business, human resources and management professional contacts drawn from the AMA database of contacts.

With more than 85 years’ experience and headquartered in New York, American Management Association (www.amanet.org) is a global leader of comprehensive talent development. AMA Enterprise, a specialized division of AMA dedicated to building corporate and government solutions, transforms enterprise-wide talent to fuel a culture of innovation, high performance and optimal business results.