Review your Potential Assessment

to foster a diverse and learning culture

As we seek progress, we often find ourselves measuring progress as a way of feeling in control. It is human and, in some ways, expected in a business environment that seeks to thrive on continuous improvement and achieving results. At the end of the day, the old adage “what you don’t measure, you can’t manage” seems to rule.

However, when it comes to assessing the potential of a human being within an organization, measuring progress becomes more complex and includes more sensitive variables such as the needs of each person, including basic ones as well as the need for security, belonging, esteem and self-fulfillment.

In the quest to build a diverse and learning culture, we must aim to promote a pragmatic vision of how potential is defined within the organization, consciously review the methodology used, and be intentional in the environment we create, so that the process may be prosperous and achieves the desired results.

Build a common understanding. Get clarity on what it means to have potential in the company. Determine what qualities are needed to succeed, given current challenges, business priorities and the overall context. Some of these qualities may be a combination of skills, attitudes and aspirations. And these qualities should be aligned with the key capabilities you intend to strengthen at the business level, as well as with the company’s values. There may be differences between companies as to which qualities define high potential, and even these may change over time.

By giving team leaders a common set of criteria to assess, language to use and intent for the potential assessment process, it generates an understanding of the process company-wide and becomes a driving force as well as it aligns execution, creating a consistent experience for employees that builds trust and makes the qualities to measure transparent, develops and promotes.

Ensures that the process promotes self-actualization. The 9-square potential assessment methodology has been widely used to segment talent, generally using two criteria: performance and potential / ability to grow over time. The tool is useful and can generate more robust results if implemented with the goal of improving self-awareness, empowerment, and accountability for continuous improvement. The goal is not to label but to embrace the process as an opportunity for self-realization and provide a path for personal growth.

If the methodology is implemented from the bottom up, it gives leaders the opportunity to have deeper conversations about how each team member views themselves in terms of their skills, commitment / attitudes, and aspirations, and how these matches up with the qualities relevant to the business. This allows leaders to connect more deeply and thus strengthen relationships, understand the values, dreams and identity of each contributor which empowers them to promote talent in high-level conversations and more efficiently agree on development efforts.

A conversation focused on self-actualization gives employees the opportunity to apply critical thinking to self-awareness, share their strengths, values, purpose and identity, and take responsibility and ownership of their professional development and impact. With a broader perspective, learning grows as well as a sense of belonging, which positively impacts collaboration and well-being.

Aim for a shared growth mindset. Finally, keep in mind that as human beings, we can tend to focus on what is missing rather than what is already there. However, believing that a person’s abilities are not innate, but can be enhanced through effort, perseverance, and learning can be beneficial in creating a safe learning environment where diverse perspectives and the individual can blossom.

The time to celebrate our differences is now. We can build a diverse and learning culture by providing clarity on what significant potential means for the company, establishing a process that empowers everyone for self-actualization, and fostering a shared growth mindset that generates well-being and prosperity for all.