business professionals PE001

How Organizations Are Unlocking Their Talent With High Potential Programs

Until recently, identifying High Potential Employees (HIPOs) was a matter of managerial intuition. Today more organizations are realizing these old-fashioned approaches are subjective, disregarding the rich diversity of potential, which is often hidden. In this blog we look at real-world examples of how organizations have maximized the potential of their talent.

Taking a Scientific Approach to Address Organizational Challenges

From my experience helping many organizations with their talent needs, I have seen three key reasons why high potential (HIPO) programs work: leadership development, succession planning, and for addressing the challenges of external hiring.

A growing number of organizations are searching for scientifically proven methodologies that will enhance their efforts to develop and retain one of their most valuable assets—their high potential employees. In the last year I have collaborated with numerous organizations that were looking to implement a more structured approach for their HIPO identification programs. At the core of this need was a way to validate and enhance any HIPO related decision.

It is worth noting that these organizations came from diverse industries, showing the competition for talent and struggle to retain employees is a common concern for business leaders. Below are examples of how three different industries have benefitted from a HIPO program.


Within the telecommunications industry, innovation is a top priority. Working with a leading telecom provider, we achieved a seismic shift in how potential was identified, moving away from the traditional performance rating approach to a holistic solution of identifying hidden talent and potential of their people. As these individuals faced real-world business challenges, their latent potential could be channeled into tangible outcomes, driving the company's competitive edge in a saturated market.

Financial Services

In financial services, risk management is as much about human capital as it is about financial assets. Through our collaboration with such an organization, doors were opened for individuals whose potential may have been obscured by conventional evaluations. These high potentials, once identified, were instrumental in navigating the complex regulatory landscapes and digital transformations reshaping the industry.


For an organization in the insurance sector, often perceived as conservative, we introduced a new innovative HiPo identification program. Here, the focus was on strategic foresight and adaptability—qualities essential for an industry grappling with the implications of climate change and technological disruption.

A Future-Ready Workforce: From Potential To Performance

Across these experiences, a common thread emerged: the willingness to invest in HIPOs is a willingness to invest in the future. By identifying potential based on objective criteria and contextual performance, these industries are creating a more dynamic, agile workforce prepared for unexpected market twists.

The drive to objectively identify HIPOs derives from the need to build a solid leadership pipeline for the future. Organizations are prioritizing internal talent development to combat the unpredictability of external hiring and to create a workforce ready for strategic pivots. Talent mobility is not just about filling positions; it is about seizing opportunities, overcoming challenges, and ensuring that every shift in the market is met with preparedness and skill.

As I share these insights, I hope they resonate with you, whether you are at the helm of a startup or steering a multinational corporation. As the journey of HIPO identification and development is ongoing, the least we can do is to create a fair and objective approach that gives the right opportunities to people to project their talents.

Learn more about how SHL can help with your high potentials program with a data-driven and objective way to discover, utilize, and retain your most critical talent.

headshot orfeas stavrou


Orfeas Stavrou

Orfeas Stavrou is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist and Managing Partner of Evalion-SHL Greece & Cyprus. He supports companies to improve their Talent Acquisition and Talent Management processes by making unbiased and inclusive decisions based on scientifically proven methodologies. In addition, he works with academic institutions like the University of Cyprus and is a research fellow of the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute, contributing to the development of innovative scientific tools for the human element in the Maritime industry.

Explore SHL’s Wide Range of Solutions

With our platform of pre-configured talent acquisition and talent management solutions, maximize the potential of your company’s greatest asset—your people.

See Our Solutions