People have been critical to the success of an organisation at all times. However, over the years, the importance of the human resource has increased immeasurably, hand-in-hand with the emergence of the knowledge-era. In the times to come, organisations would have to manage their environment with a great deal of agility and imagination. Agility has become the underpinning factor for organizations to not only survive, but to thrive in the VUCA World. For this, a very specialized human capital and more importantly, an enthused culture that inspires excellence, is required for organisations to flourish.

As we continue to sharpen our efforts to build talent within the organisation, the challenge for most organisations is to recognize the right individual or high potentials (HiPos) before it’s too late. Engaging and retaining HiPos is no tick in the box, but requires serious commitment from the leadership. A high potential employee has the ability, engagement and aspiration to rise up to opportunities and succeed in senior and crucial roles. Organisations need to constantly recognize, appreciate, enthuse and reward them differently. This shall make them future ready with the vision and the capabilities required to compete in the world of tomorrow.

A high potential employee is hungry for meaningful roles, wants sustained engagement with senior management and is enthused to add value to the role assigned. So organisations should identify roles for HiPos to maximize on-the-job learning, help them to gain exposure through new skills and projects, and provide them with challenging roles and opportunities to harness their talent. They should be encouraged to participate in key meetings/ forums to get the holistic view of the business – develop internal expertise enhanced by external perspective. They should have exposure to Senior Management and Board Members and be provided with global exposure through international assignments as early as possible to gain a global perspective and experience. Managers need to play an active role in identifying and developing their HiPos to help them achieve stronger performance levels, while senior leaders should take HiPos development as an organization-wide priority. They should be compensated with long-term incentives to keep them motivated and focused.

In order to engage the high potentials and maintain a leadership pipeline, we at JSPL have initiated programssuch as ‘LEAD’ (Leadership Exploration and Development). The program aims to blend the organisational competency development with individual behavioural and functional competency enlargement/enhancement in a unique, comprehensive program. The program spans over a period of six months with a focus on four dimensional themes of Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading Business and Leading Change. So far, we have seen phenomenal results as more than 250 employees have gone through the six months’ journey of LEAD program. Many high potential participants have exemplified themselves by demonstrating exceptional leadership qualities and have displayed a clear and marked difference in how they have improved on their engagements with colleagues, customers, juniors, and even their family and friends.

Jindal Lead Management Trainee (JLMT) program is our coveted leadership program for high potential talent at the middle level, and hired from premier business schools across the country. Internal employees who have served for a certain period and qualify the shortlist criteria are also given the opportunity to compete and be a part of the program. The JLMT program has been institutionalized to build bench strength and fuel the leadership pipeline with young and dynamic professionals who can partner in organization’s transformational journey. This talent pool is further groomed and nurtured through structured development programs, continuous on-the-job posure and time-bound cross functional rotations to contend with the new era business demands of increased productivity, sustainability and business agility.

Companies need to invest in such programs that can help identify and develop their strongest employees. There is a clear correlation between investing in leadership, and consistently identifying and grooming high potential talent. Companies must equip their most promising executives to handle the formidable challenges associated with moving into new and increasingly more complex leadership roles. It is the long term enriching and engaging ‘Golden Association’ of the employees in any organisation which makes it sustainable in this world of business today, wherein linear extrapolation and programmed thinking processes and paradigms have limited utility. What is required of the leadership today to face turbulent business environment is to induce parallel thinking process, creativity and right side usage of brain. One has to learn to travel light, with no mental baggage of the past success. One can only take the benefit of history, but not get burdened by it. New challenges have to have approaches and the key is – no golden rules of the past necessarily apply. Irrespective of processes of engaging Hipos, inculcating these capabilities should be an inseparable part of an Organizations’ Hipo program, construct in order to make it sustainable and successful.

The writer is Director, Group HR, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd

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