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The Gillette Company's TechOps Program, which I developed in my role as an HR executive at this company, was created to ensure we were able to develop the high level of engineering talent needed to compete on an international scale. It resulted in the recruitment and development of dozens of engineering stars, which led to new technology and the launch our revolutionary product, the Mach 3 razor.
The TechOps Program is a prime example of a company using good techniques to develop high potential employees-people on your staff who are assets to your company. And your business can easily implement these same strategies, it all has to do with planning, planning, planning.
The first thing you need to consider when developing your company's high potential employees (your managers, engineers, front-line employees, and other staff), is your business strategy for the next few years. What's your business plan? Think about whether you're growing, shrinking, or remaining stable; adding new products or services; and entering new markets or regions. All these factors will have an impact on your workforce.
Next, assess your company in these three areas:

  • The Demographic Assessment: Based on your business plan, will you have the staff-in sheer numbers-to support it? You should look at turnover, internal velocity of movement, impending retirements, and recruitment rates.

  • The Competency Assessment: What are your current employees' key skills? Is there room for improvement? If so, will you be able to get your current staff to gain the appropriate skills in order for you to meet your business plan? Are these necessary skills unique or proprietary to your business-will you need to plan long-range and recruit to develop (i.e., build)? Or are the skills more generic and readily accessible from other sources, so that you can attract them from the competition (i.e., buy)? Will there be supply and demand issues (for example, last year, the U.S. graduated only 70,000 engineering undergrads; also, the supply for H1-B visas for 2007 has already reached quota)?

  • Employee Value Proposition Assessment: Is your workplace culture and environment one in which people want to join and want to stay? If not, what do you need to make it more attractive?

Asking these questions will help you understand what you currently have in place and what you will need in the future-before you spend the time and resources developing high potential employees. These steps will also keep you from developing the wrong groups of people and developing people only to lose them down the line.
While it's inevitable that there will be unexpected events-both internal and external-which cannot be anticipated, the more you can plan ahead, the better prepared everyone will be. And the bottom line will reflect it.

Bob Kustka in the Media: Look for Bob as quoted in "Facing the Contingent Labor Shortage," written by Bridget Mintz Testa, in the April 2006 issue of Contingent Workforce Strategies.
Bob Kustka on the Road: Bob will be speaking about the Hidden Cost of Hiring in Bedford, Mass. on May 30.
For more information on Bob Kustka and his services, please visit or send an email to

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