Hungry, Hungry HiPos

‘Tis the season for performance appraisals, evaluations, and incentive bonuses. And whether you like them or not, whether they fall into the pro or the con side of your list, performance management programs are generally a part of most organizations.

Sure some of them work.  Many of them don’t. And some of them work, but not in the way they were expected to.  Kind of like the employees they are meant to review.

I am not interested in going a round on whether your organization, or any organization should have a formal,  prescriped and likely biased way of rewarding…I mean incentivizing your employees.  What I wanted to hash out is the golden snitch of performance: the HiPo.


Can we pause for one second so that I can just point out how the term (and spelling of) HiPo is so obnoxious.  It’s about as annoying as people who text ”k” instead of “ok”. Seriously.

So for the remainder of this post, I will refer to HiPos as high-potentials. Sure it will make the post a little longer, but I am sure you will agree, it will make it slightly less nauseating.

High potentials are what most managers dream of finding.  Even better is a high potential that is nurtured from obscurity. Like the undiscovered and untapped star player that all the other coaches overlooked…under the tutilage and guidance of the new manager…behold the high potential that evolves into a high peformer – the trifecta of “aspiration, ability and engagement”

Of course, there is a change that labelling the employee as high potential might actually be a kiss of death…after all, there is no guarantee that they will achieve this potential.  That is if you actually tell the employee.

There’s an interesting dynamic at play in many organizations that strive to be high performing.  There is a struggle between relying  on the consistent high performers to deliver their characteristic high quality work and giving those select few high potentials an opportunity to take shine and possibly go in a new direction.

The risk that comes with going beyond identying someone on a succession chart and giving potential an opportunity to become reality can leave a manager (or organization) vulnerable.

However, there is also risk that comes with not being open to potential which can leave a manager (or organization) vulnerable.

Ultimately, you need to decide whether you feed your high potential or do leave it hungry?





Every day is performance review day


When I was a kid I remember asking my parents why, if there was a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, was there no Kid’s Day.  I’m sure you can all predict what there answer was…because it’s the same thing I said to my kids when they asked the same question: EVERY DAY is Kid’s Day.

I’m sure that answer was unsatisfying and ridiculous to my kids as it was to me.  I mean, what does that mean?!  Every day is kids’ day..whatever.

But I can see the wisdom in this answer because since then I’ve basically applied it to other areas – like Performance Reviews.  No wait, don’t bail on me now…keep reading.  I know that performance reviews  are pointless wastoids of our time. Sure they are unreliable, prescriptive and limiting.  I get it that they are insincere, guilt-inducing and just pieces of paper.

But think about why this is. Maybe it’s because they are only done once a year.

Kind of like that card you whipped up on lined writing paper using pencil crayons for your mom the night before Mother’s Day because you realized that,despite the fact that you didn’t want to buy into the commercialism of Mother’s Day brought to you by Hallmark, you couldn’t ignore it.  Guilt wins out and you go through the motions.

But what if you eschewed the one day “celebration” and made it a weekly habit? You know, called your mom, stopped rolling your eyes, and hung out with her.  Then maybe you wouldn’t feel obligated to compensate for a year’s worth of negligent behaviour on one defined day.

So it goes with performance reviews.  I mean, who told you that you could only do it on one day, the deadline for submitting review reports?  No one.  I dare you to find me an HR team or organization that has actually advised you to only review your employee once a year.  I double-dare you.

So stop bitching about the “process” and time-consuming “paperwork” that you have to fill out and commit to give feedback on performance all the time.

After all, EVERY DAY should be performance review day.