How to assess Potential?

I get very often the questions how to assess employee’s potential. Managers want to know that in view of their team member’s potential. But I think it is a very good question to ask also ourselves – about our own potential …. and in order to understand more about ourselves.

A basic model, a bit simplistic, climb the level quickly

personal development

Some basic and simple models would say that potential is related to the ability that someone has to climb two or three steps in their careers over the next three or five years. But that’s maybe a bit simplistic.

The past, the present and the future

Let’s look into potential more in detail. I believe that potential is related to the past, the present and the future. So fundamentally potential is dynamic over time and fundamentally potential is related to someone’s ability to learn.

Learn from past experiences

The past. That’s how much I have learned maybe from different industries that I have been exposed to, different companies, the international exposure that someone has had and the educational background that someone has. All of that is the experience base someone has gained that would allow them – of course – also to develop them into the future.

The present : Who well do you know yourself?

The second element is about the present. And the present is related to how much someone knows about herself or himself. It the ability, for example through meditation, to have introspection. It is the ability to know about our deep desire. It is the ability to master ourselves in challenging and maybe stressful situations. So it goes far beyond knowing about my strength and my development areas. That is related to self-awareness certainly as well, but you see that we talk here also about something that goes deeper – and it is also by the way related to the physical condition that someone has. All of that is impacting someone’s ability to develop into the future.

The Future : Explore new horizons !

So let’s talk about the future, and here we talk about someone’s ability to move ahead, but maybe not only in a vertical dimension. Maybe it is also the ability to explore completely different things in their lives. It can be related to their careers, it can be relate to the personal development … maybe some hobbies and so on and so forth. Someone who has the ability to explore new horizons has certainly a higher potential and is displaying a higher potential than someone who is basically very static.

You must know “who YOU ARE?” to improve your personal development

Improve personal development

So you see that potential has different dimensions. Fundamentally it is about learning and fundamentally it is about knowing more about “who am I”, and not only about assessing the potential of my team members.

More information in my book:

Sven Sommerlatte : Successful Career Strategy – An HR Practitioner’s Guide to Reach Your Dream Job (Springer, June 2023).  ISBN: 978-3-662-66790-3

Click here to find my book

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