Tell or Don’t Tell: Korn Ferry Executive Survey Sheds Light on Developing, Implementing and Communicating High-Potential Programs

LOS ANGELES, December 15, 2014 – Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY), a single source of leadership and talent consulting services, today released results of a survey showing that while nearly all (96 percent) of executives believe high-potential programs have an impact on recruitment and retention, nearly half (43 percent) admit their company does not even have such a program.

In addition, for those who have high-potential programs, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) do not tell employees that they are part of the high-potential pool, and nearly half (46 percent) say the criteria for being selected into the pool is not transparent or only transparent to those who ask.

“It is clear that well-done high-potential programs help attract and retain the best talent in the marketplace,” said Korn Ferry Global Lead of High Potential Development Claudia Hill. “Establishing clear criteria for selection and informing high-potentials about their involvement is critical to creating a transparent succession management process.”

The Korn Ferry survey also found that 82 percent of respondents said that if they were seeking a new job, they would consider employers with high-potential programs more strongly.

“A key to an effective high-potential program is not only “if” you communicate the presence of the program, but “how” and “what” is communicated,” said Hill. “High-potentials – those identified as having the ability to move up at least two levels within an organization – are critical to an organization’s future success, but so are high-professionals – those who are stand-out individuals at all levels of the organization. An inclusive, transparent approach to talent management is key.

Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of respondents say their organizations invest in the development of high professionals as well as high potentials.

About the survey:
Korn Ferry conducted the online survey from Nov. 20 through Dec. 3, 2014. There were 1,027 responses. Survey responses are below:

Does your company have a high-potential program?  
Yes 57%


Are employees who have been classified as high-potential formally informed about the identification?  
Yes 37%


What is the impact of high-potential programs on recruitment and retention?  
Negative impact 0%
No impact at all 4%
Some impact 22%

High impact for engaging and retaining key talent

To what extent is the criteria for being selected into the high-potential pool transparent?  
Not transparent 17%
Only transparent to those in program who ask 29%
Transparent to anyone who asks 27%

Transparent to entire organization

Does your organization invest in the development of “high-professionals” as well as high-potentials? High-professionals are defined as stand-out individual contributors at all levels of the organization.  
Yes 62%


If you were seeking a new job, would the presence of a high-potential program make a difference to you as you seek a new employer?  
No it doesn’t make any difference as I choose my next employer 18%

Yes I would consider employers with high-potential programs more strongly


About Korn Ferry
At Korn Ferry, we design, build, attract and ignite talent. Since our inception, clients have trusted us to help recruit world-class leadership. Today, we are a single source for leadership and talent consulting services to empower businesses and leaders to reach their goals. Our solutions range from executive recruitment and leadership development programs, to enterprise learning, succession planning and recruitment process outsourcing (RPO). Visit for more information on Korn Ferry, and for thought leadership, intellectual property and research.