In this post, we’re look at why this is and I’ll offer a “formula” to help assess potential.
I’ve written posts on how to use the nine-box performance and potential matrix, and numerous posts on how to develop A, B, and C players.
I’ve also written quite a few posts on how to identity potential; in other words, what criteria do you look for? What’s that magical, predictive “right stuff”?
If you’re familiar with the nine-box method for assessing talent, you know that performance is defined as:
A= outstanding performance
B= good performance
C= poor performance
1= high potential
2= medium potential
3= low potential
This is where the science of leadership assessment takes a left turn to the art of predicting potential. It’s easier to look back and assign a grade; but when assessing potential, you’re forced to look into the future and predict performance. If predicting the future were easy, we’d all be rich from the stock market and gambling on sports, and there would be no #1 draft pick busts in sports.
Given this murkiness around assessing potential, managers will often ask for a “formula”; some way to assign numbers to grading potential. To address this, here’s a scorecard, adapted from Harvard ManageMentor, for managers to assign numbers to their judgment.
Scorecard for Assessing Leadership Potential (answer yes or no to each question):
1. Could the employee perform at a higher level, in a different position or take on increased responsibilities within the next year (consider the person’s ability only, not whether there is a position available to support this growth)?
To evaluate this employee’s potential, calculate the total number of “yes” responses and use the following scoring:
0-3 = Low; 4-7 = Medium; 8-10 = High
Keep in mind, there’s a danger to putting a number to a subjective assessment – it can create the illusion of certainty. While the numbers only provide a way to quantify judgment, having a common scoring system might help improve predictability and at least reduce some of the anxiety for managers.