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High Performance Coaching: HiPo Programs and their Benefits

TAGS: coaching, life coaching, business coaching, coach, life coach, self help, personal development High performer, Coaching, motivational, self improvement, next level, behavioral skills, soft skills, communication, management, positivity, promotion

Ways of Thinking

Do you need a High Performance coach?

How often have you heard managers say the following statements to you and your team members during developmental discussions?

  1. "You are an above average performer, but 'If Only' you possessed 'ABC' you could become excellent contributor."
  2. "You are my top performer, however 'If Only' you had better 'XYZ', you could easily make it to the next level in the next few months."

Mathematically speaking, in the above mentioned statements, let’s assume ‘XYZ’ and ‘ABC’ to be variables with Time (t) keeping the rest of the sentence constant, where ‘XYZ’ could be communication skills/assertiveness/hesitation/persuasiveness/drive/enthusiasm etc, and ‘ABC’ could be people management or social skills/ approachability/ team skills/ delegation abilities etc.

If the answer is a “Yes” to even one of the aforementioned statements for you as a speaker or listener, then you and your organization need a ‘High Performance Coach’.


What is a HiPo Coach?

A HiPo Coach is someone who spends time coaching your good and best potential performers in overcoming the critical shortcomings at a professional or personal sphere that holds them back from achieving what they are capable of. Basically, a HiPo Coach may be personified with the paintbrush that can help paint the last bit of the white elephant’s grey tail.

Many times organizations fail to realize why High performers are never retained long enough in spite of the special attention given. Why good people (i.e. performers) always leave so early is the question often asked around coffee machines at the workplace.

Resignation stories of Hi-Performers (HiPos) are a common tune now with increasing opportunities available to switch jobs. In fact, an article I read in the Harvard Business Review, research states that 1 out of every 5 HiPos (High Potential/Performer) intends to leave the job in the next six months. It also states that in terms of satisfaction rates, they are only slightly more satisfied than the others. (Source: SAP)

Aside from that, the HiPo employees are also observed to be nearing the zone of average performers in a year of them being declared as HiPos. This is in spite of the multiple opportunities for development provided to them.

The High Performers

What makes most of these above average or so-called high performers unable to make it to next levels in the same organization? These are the species that have excelled in their work and nature of technical expertise that they do with considerable mastery in accuracy and speed. However, they may lack some critical soft and behavioral skills that no one in their career have helped them out with so far. Those skills have become speed breakers for some and roadblocks for others.

My decade of observation skills in the domain of Human Resources suggests that it is statements like those mentioned above which become roadblocks in the thought process of any good performer.

The feedback sessions with managers often indicate improvement areas even for the best performers in aspects of personal mastery, communication, team management etc. These are provided as reasons for lack of growth in the garb of opportunities or motivation for further growth. At times there may be truth and merit in these, however most often they are diagnosed incorrectly.

The variables we discussed above are often diagnosed ineffectively or incorrectly because it comes from the judgment of a third person and not the subject involved. The solution also comes from the third party (leader, manager, training team, HR etc.).

For example, a HiPo employee who was subjected to various language improvement training interventions realized after years of self doubt that it is not language; it is the behavioral aspect of hesitation to be vocal about thoughts that was the key issue that was not being targeted. Another example could be the case where the manager kept focusing on improving the people management skills of an employee, whereas the core issue was the habit of procrastination which never got addressed over years.

Issues with behavioral training programs

The common step organizations take after such feedback discussions is to initiate behavioral training programs. They are recommended for individuals who accept their improvement areas and want to change for the better.

At times a two or three day program may be successful in planting the seed of thought and theories behind the change needed. However, most times the momentum slows exactly 10 days after attending a good training session. The key reason is that the change has been propagated and has not emerged from within the individual himself. Before the employee realizes it is mid-year and time for feedback again with no visible and conscious change observed in most cases by managers.

The good performing employee is left to wonder that I did attend the recommended training as part of my Individual Development Plan (IDP), yet the feedback I receive remains constant and the variables ABC and XYZ may also become constant at times (though the leader conveying it may change with time, pun intended). The bottom line or end result is a confused good performer who finds respite after clearing an interview with a competitor.

Overcoming the "If only"

The best HiPo development programs in organizations focus on the following aspects:

  • Job shadowing
  • Education assistance schemes
  • Executive MBA courses
  • Onsite projects
  • Behavioral and technical training sessions

But the matter of fact is that if they have potential what is that skill which ‘If Only’ they possessed they would be ready to move ahead at a faster pace. And is the team leader competent enough to identify that ‘Lacking/If Only skill’?

According to neuroscience, the best answers and solutions emerge from only one brain and that is mostly our ‘own’ brain. Our brain is neuroplastic and is capable to change the thought process by undoing old habits and creating new thought processes by practice.

This is the job of the Coach. A Coach shall fuel the energy in the brain of the Coachee to think of the real challenges and the best workable solutions with greater commitment to attain the goals that they set for themselves. Borrowed versions of brains in organizations that claim to think of solutions for another individual more often than not never reach the intended positive change in spite of the best intentions.

The reason is that people act with more drive and are willing to explore newer ways of thinking, if the solution comes from within. Simply put, a person weighing 90 kilograms, who knows that their ideal weight is 65kgs, will never succeed to attain it no matter how best a diet or a gym may be unless they have a hundred percent conviction to lose weight from within their brain center. The gym instructor can give him/her the equipments and theories, but the drive will have to come from within.

Benefits of Hipo coaching programs

This is what a Life Coach can bring to an employee who lacks that drive to really bring positive change and succeed. A ‘HiPo Coaching’ process is a means to enable the best performers in an organization to identify and overcome the barriers in achieving the next milestone.

The only difference here is that both, the barriers and the milestones, are identified by the employee/Coachee involved by facilitating his thinking and reasoning process. It is interesting to mention here that, High performers also show a stronger tendency to direct their own learning, which may be one of the ways to predict who will be a high performer. Hence, coaching creates a greater buy-in from the employee by having effective goal-directed conversations with a HiPo Coach, who is a partner to the Coachee and the organization in providing sustainable and real behavioral changes. This happens through a series of weekly or fort-nightly conversation meetings with the good performers.

‘HiPo Coaching’ is not only the need of the hour, but also the next level of competitive advantage that any HR and OD team can credit to their retention and HiPo/Individual development bucket of interventions.

(Astha provides freelance HiPo Coaching sessions to individuals in organizations to overcome barriers in thinking and behavior. Please refer and contact for more details- )


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