High potential programs sound so good, but are so hard to do well. Once people get busy, these programs get dumped into the abyss of "nice-to-have" programs. Selection is difficult and those meetings with stakeholders to determine the selection criteria are mind-numbing and frustrating experiences that make you want to go back to your desk and talk to screaming customers.
Certainly there must be a better way. And why are we trying to select high potentials. If someone has high potential, are they going to volunteer and self-select? Think about it, do people with high potential really need to be told, "Hey, you have high potential."
I think not.
Here is an idea…create a big giant MOOC (if you don't know what a MOOC is...Google it) in your organization. The topic of the MOOC is Self-Leadership and use the book Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing Effectiveness Through Situational Self Leadership. Design it well, with useful assignments that have people taking action on what they learn and reporting back into the MOOC their successes and failures.
Open the class up to everyone in your organization. Yes, I mean everyone. Don't tell people they cannot attend for whatever crazy reasons you can come up with. If people don't finish, who cares? You will probably know then that those who don't finish the course are not your high potentials.
If you pay close attention, you will find that the people who take this course seriously, participate frequently and meaningfully, and complete the course….are your high potentials. Plus, you are developing their skills by the simple nature of the course…which is designed largely for their benefit and at their initiative.
Don't you think high potentials have initiative?