Realize the Promise, Reduce the Risk

Most HIPO Programs
Do Not Yield Results

High-potential (HIPO) employees are critical to your organization’s current and future success. Organizations are aware of the value of HIPOs and have invested heavily in HIPO strategies, with two thirds of companies trading away from other talent investments to fund their HIPO programs. However the vast majority of HIPO programs are underperforming.

The challenge organizations are struggling with is that leadership roles of tomorrow are going to be significantly different than those of today. In fact, most organizations expect that, within in 5 years, more than 40% of the leadership roles that exist today will look dramatically different.

“Our talent needs are evolving just as quickly [as the business environment].”

Denise Nichols
Global Head of Talent Acquisition
Marsh & McLennan

Why Aren’t HIPO Programs Delivering Greater Value?


To respond to changing future needs, most organizations are betting on individual agility. 

However, organizations whose HIPO strategies are focused on agile people are more likely to cite problems with internal candidate readiness and are 71% more likely to have to look outside the organization to fill positions.   

A focus on agile people fails to improve the outcomes of HIPO programs because it:

  • Overly narrows the pool of viable candidates
  • Underestimates the difficulty of building more agile people
  • Increases HIPO turnover risk
  • Risks impeding performance
  • Risks hindering collaboration 

Realize the Promise
Reduce the Risk

Rather than betting on creating agile people, leading organizations must create more agile HIPO strategies. Agile HIPO strategies move at the pace of the business to align ability, aspiration and engagement with evolving needs. Organizations with an agile HIPO strategy are 70% more likely to have a strong leadership bench.

To ensure that HIPO strategy moves at the speed of the business, HR must:

  1. Expand ownership of needs identification and evaluation beyond HR 
  2. Actively manage HIPO aspirations over time
  3. Take ownership of HIPOs’ career progression

“Through the accurate identification of our HIPOs, and their accelerated development, CEB has helped us transform leadership.”

Brenda Lussier
Chief Deputy of HR
County of Riverside Court

The Product

Find out more about how we can help you implement changes to your HIPO program and positively impact your business outcomes.


Accurately identify HIPOs by measuring the factors critical for success.

Our assessment tools enable you to identify your top talent based on their aspiration for more senior roles, engagement with the company, and ability to perform in the face of top business challenges.


Assess your competitive talent positioning and focus development spend.

Using external benchmarking data allows you to accurately assess your HIPOs against best-in-class peers and competitors to understand your talent’s strategic positioning. Drawn from our talent analytics database of over 9 million assessments, this data can help you spot the gaps that require targeted development.


Enable efficient and scalable on-the-job learning with performance impact.

Develop your HIPOs with structured on-the-job learning. We offer a unique approach through our scalable cloud-based application, CEB Development Coach, which provides experiential learning activities based on individual assessment results.


Apply best practice insights and tools to sustain the impact of your HIPO program.

Manage and sustain the impact of your HIPO initiatives by using proven best practices and decision support tools. CEB’s HR Leadership Councils provide an always-on resource to feed you the latest insights to maximize your HIPO program.

Meet the Expert

Brian is our expert on our high-potential employee (HIPO) research.

Brian Kropp

Practice Leader, Human Resources Practice


Read Biography

Success Stories

Wadi Group, Yossef Elbromboly: Outcomes
Matt Hart, Cundall: Business Challenges & Development Programs
Charlotte Johns, Transport for London: How has CEB supported your talent development?

Decision-Making Tools


Beyond the HIPO Hype

How the best companies overcome their HIPO program challenges and realize greater outcomes


New Strategies for Managing HIPO Program Success

How to more effectively develop your High-Potential employees

Top Tips

Get More Value from Your HIPO Programs

20 actionable steps to help HIPO program owners rethink their approach

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Tools Now

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Case Studies

Bristol-Myers Squibb used our HIPO
assessments and CEB Development Coach to enable culture change and a
more strategic HR function.

Our HIPO solution helped Valmet identify managers who could attain and succeed in a senior position, as well as cross any development gaps that stand in their way.

County of Riverside Court needed to identify and develop future leaders with the capability to drive success in a new work environment.  

Recent Blog Posts

Featured Press

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Strong performance and the results it carries are all well and good, of course, but it does not necessarily indicate that an employee will make a good leader.

High-potential employees can be identified by three key traits, but misconceptions about one of them is putting leadership pipelines at risk.

“The program has given us a stronger leadership pipeline and is helping us embed a 'grow-your-own' talent strategy.”

Carole O'Neil
Partner (HR & Training)