High-Potential Groups

High-Potential Group Development

Coordinated Development for 41 Senior Leaders

The Company:

Public Services Enterprise Group (PSEG),headquartered in Newark, New Jersey, is a publicly traded diversified energy company with revenues of over $9 billion.  PSEG was named to Fortune Magazine’s 2012 List of Most Admired Companies.


The Situation:

PSEG, a 110-year old company featuring four generations within its workforce, has been known for its rather conservative and “polite” culture. Results from recent employee engagement surveys had led to the kick-off of a “comfort speaking up” initiative to foster a workplace where it is safe to raise issues and where new ideas are sought. Additionally, these annual engagement surveys underlined a need for the organization’s leadership to be more inspirational, better role model behaviors and to develop a greater sense of trust among their constituents. Finally, in the 2012 engagement survey, employees at all levels asked for an increased focus on individual development.

To help address these needs, PSEG desired an impactful leadership development program for 41 Vice Presidents and high potential Senior Directors who lead over 10,000 union and non-union employees working within PSEG’s three primary subsidiary companies (PSE&G, PSEG Power and PSEG Services). The goal was to provide an experience that would help these Participants gain self-awareness, collect critical feedback and to reflect upon and use this information to develop and enhance their skills as leaders.


Program Objectives:

  • To increase Participant’s self-awareness of strengths and key developmental areas.
  • To assist Participant in developing greater trust and engagement within their business units, across their operating company and throughout the enterprise.
  • To begin to change PSEG’s culture by asking leaders to focus not just on achieving results, but also on how results are achieved (e.g. through effective leadership behaviors).
  • To provide a developmental program “en masse” in order to promote a cascading organizational effect, but one that was also personalized for individual development.
  • To deliver all of this at an attractive cost-per-participant.


The Solution:

WJM Associates, a recognized leader in assessment, executive coaching and high potential development, was invited by PSEG to deliver a highly customized and coordinated leadership development experience for these executives. The process included the following steps:


The WJM Account Director partnered with PSEG’s Talent and Development staff to agree upon the overall goal and objective of the initiative. Key project items included:

  • Executive buy-in and commitment
  • Communication plan
  • Customized materials
  • Measures of success
  • Confidentiality guidelines

With input from PSEG, WJM confirmed core leadership competencies for the Participants, as well as “leadership fundamentals” for specific technical area such as Finance, Nuclear, Information Technology, etc. These items along with PSEG’s established Corporate Values were incorporated by WJM into the customized 360° interview questions.

PSEG Participant Interviews and Assessment

A WJM Coach met with each Participant to introduce the PSEG Leadership Engagement and Development (LEAD) program and its confidentiality guidelines, and to learn about the Participant’s past and present roles, challenges, significant learnings, and perceived strengths and developmental opportunities. This kickoff meeting was shortly followed by an in-person or phone interview between the Coach and the Participant’s immediate manager. Once the Participant interview process was complete, WJM administered an online Hogan assessment instrument to each Participant.

360° Interviews

Over 330 in-person or phone interviews were scheduled by WJM’s Program Coordinator over a two month period.  The raters included the Participant’s immediate manager, direct reports, peers, and clients.  WJM strived to gain input from a minimum of three raters per category to ensure confidentiality.  Interviewers probed raters not just for observations of behavior, but to identify the business impact of these behaviors.

Feedback Session

Findings from the interviews and Hogan were summarized in a WJM Leadership Effectiveness Assessment for Development™ (LEAD™) report which was delivered to each Participant in a feedback session by his/her Coach.  The LEAD™ report is a simple, consolidated, coach-supported development plan focused on 2 to 3 major developmental objectives.  The Coach facilitated a three-way meeting with the Participant and his/her immediate manager to agree on these objectives and to help support a “coaching” style relationship between the manager and the participant.

Targeted Developmental Opportunities

Once the three-way meeting took place and the Development Action Plan was ratified, the formal PSEG LEAD program concluded. However, additional support, including coaching against developmental plan objectives, may be administered for some of the participants. Additionally, group development workshops and other initiatives are being considered to address organizational gaps and themes that were uncovered during the LEAD program and shared with PSEG’s HR and Talent Management leaders.


Key Learnings – To Date:

The PSEG LEAD program allowed the organization to identify common developmental themes or potential derailers among Participants; and begin plans for follow-on support to address developmental goals and gaps moving forward. In particular, there was a feeling that the PSEG LEAD program, with its emphasis on feedback-centered development, helped further promote the dynamic of “comfort speaking up” at the organization. To date, the PSEG LEAD program has been viewed as a success for its personalized approach and incorporation of PSEG’s specific leadership competencies, leadership fundamentals and corporate values. Needless to say, it is too early to measure the long-term impact of the program. However, WJM has administered a preliminary survey to the 41 Participants. Twenty-three responded (see next page for results). The overall Participant rating for the PSEG LEAD program was 4.3 out of 5.0, indicating the Participants thought the program was worthwhile and meaningful.

Sheila J. Rostiac, Vice President of Talent, Development & Diversity said, “The WJM program has changed the way we will conduct assessment and development planning moving forward.  Leaders received constructive, specific, and actionable feedback that has made us more comfortable speaking up and has had a direct impact on changing behaviors. Our ROI on this program has exceeded our expectations.”


Other Feedback from Participants:

“Undoubtedly, the best, most effective process I have seen used at PSEG. Thanks for the opportunity.”

“My WJM coach was the brightest, most effective coach I have worked with and I have worked with numerous coaches in different countries and organizations over more than twenty years.”

“The feedback I received was more specific and actionable than numerous other assessments tools utilized in the past.”

“All sources of feedback to improve performance are valuable. This assessment reinforced areas that I continue to need to focus on for development.”

WJM Faculty Cabinet

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