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High Potential Identification: The Needle in a Haystack

Author: Garrick Throckmorton– Chief Product and Services Officer

            Organizations around the world will soon prepare for an important season in their annual talent management calendar. Talent Reviews. These reviews are a critical element that initiates a variety of important human capital decisions. From annual merit increase decisions, bonus payouts, promotional opportunities, job rotations and assignments, and developmental priorities, one thing is clear…talent reviews inform important activities for the coming year or even years!

            Throughout talent review preparation and meetings, it is likely that you will hear the term potential” thrown around in discussions. It is clear to me that Taylor has enormous potential in this organization.” When you hear this term, stop and consider (or even ask) how does our organization define and measure potential? And when we say potential,” we must know potential for what?” After a few of these discussions, it is likely you will find that the word potential is being used with a variety of wide stretching definitions that lack alignment across the organization.

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            Commonly, managers use the term Potential to describe the future capabilities that they see in an employee based almost fully upon their past/current performance. Oddly enough, while a common definition, evidence is quite clear that an exclusive focus on past/current performance as the input for determining potential is simply not accurate (Silzer & Church, 2009).

            Evidence informs us that Potential is measurable and able to be developed, and we (TalentTelligent) have created the tools to do both! Potential for what? Potential for increased scope and breadth of a role, the potential to effectively move 2 levels up in an organization, and the potential for increased strategic impact. Employees with High Potential are frankly a small part of your organizations population, and the general population. They are unique, they are distinct, and to find them you may feel like you are searching for a needle in the haystack. Yet, when you find them, they will leave indelible marks on your organization for years to come.

            We have developed a disruptive High Potential Identification model (KSAP – Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes of Potential) that is built upon decades of research which takes a comprehensive approach to this elusive topic. By developing a specific and detailed profile of High Potential we have defined 12 Markers and Drivers that are supported by evidenced based behaviors that you can observe when finding potential, defining potential, and measuring it accurately. We help you know potential when you see it and then provide you with tools to act and build deep talent pools.

            To become self-sufficient in the use of KSAP, join one of our upcoming All-Access Certification Programs!

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Silzer, R., & Church, A. H. (2009). The pearls and perils of identifying potential. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, 2(4), 377–412. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1754-9434.2009.01163.x

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