Finding and Keeping Stars: The Leadership Performance and Retention of High Potentials
CitationSpain, Everett. 2014. Finding and Keeping Stars: The Leadership Performance and Retention of High Potentials. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Business School.
AbstractHigh potentials (HI-POs) are employees who are most likely to become their organizations' top performers and senior leaders. Identifying HI-POs early and understanding the factors involved in their retention can help organizations strategically invest in their future. This dissertation explores how to identify and retain HI-POs across three related chapters (papers), two of which examine U.S. Army officers, and one of which examines corporate leaders.
The first chapter identifies which traits and performance factors predict that young leaders will become their organizations' highest performing leaders. This illuminates the challenges of defining high performance, such as the potential organizational tension between favoring action-oriented employees versus contemplative-oriented employees. It also shows that junior employees' job performance ratings, if force-distributed and repeated over time with different bosses, strongly predicts high leadership performance up to fifteen years later. Additionally, it finds intellectual ability may be punished by organizations, and suggests the construct of the Criteria-Needs Mismatch (CNM) as a potential explanation of this phenomenon.
Having identified HI-POs within a larger population of young leaders, the second chapter comprehensively tests the factors that predict their turnover dynamics over short, medium, and long stays in their organization. Also, it explores the concept of Functional Human Capital, a subset of Industry Human Capital that suggests employees who are trained in different technical fields within the same organization will experience different levels of portability than employees trained in non-technical fields. Therefore, Function Human Capital may provide an additional lens towards understanding turnover behavior.
The third chapter, co-authored with Boris Groysberg, explores the current applications and best practices for one of the most widely used, yet least understood, methods for understanding turnover: the Exit Interview and Survey (EIS). By studying EIS programs across various industries, geographies, and organizational sizes, we find most existing EIS programs do not produce positive changes for their organizations, and that there is no one-size-fits-all template for creating an effective EIS program. Through integrating the literature, analysis, and global best practices, we present four recommendations for designing EIS programs that are capable of unlocking significant value for their organizations.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37367801