What is the difference between Potential and Performance?

July 20th, 2011 by Sarah Green Leave a reply »

Within Zircon, we spend most of our time working with clients to understand the difference between potential and performance. Basically, potential is about the future and performance is about the current time and the past. We can measure performance through competency interviews, application forms, 360 appraisals and performance management. However “Past performance is not the best predictor of future potential” because it is dependent upon the environment, organisation, manager and level of support which fluctuate and change over time. We therefore also have to assess potential.

How can you assess Potential?

In order to assess potential, we need to ensure that all of the assessment methods are fully aligned with the future goals, strategy, vision and direction of the senior leaders. Specifically we would recommend assessing the following areas in order to assess potential:

Values are assessed by strengths card exercises, values exercises, and realistic job preview exercises such as the ‘Day in the life’ (case study, presentation, role play) assessment, which seeks to assess both personal and occupational values.

Motivators are identified by conducting ‘aspirational’ interviews, along with personality questionnaires which tap into a person’s goals, drive and energy.

Intellectual skills are assessed using situational interviews, reasoning tests and work sample exercises (case study, presentation, role play). All these aim to assess the individual’s ability to analyse, reason and make decisions.

Intrapersonal and Interpersonal skills are assessed using tests of emotional intelligence, personality measures and scenario exercises. These assessments determine the individuals awareness of self and others, regard of self and others, as well as self management and relationship management.

If you would like to assess the validity of your assessment or development centre, or want to check that it is measuring potential rather than performance, please contact Dr Amanda Potter on 01737 555 862.

Written by Dr Amanda Potter and Melissa Tyson – both Occupational Psychologists.

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