Potential vs. performance – the dilemma for HR

One of the biggest predicaments HR faces in an organization is what to do with employees who have lots of potential, but are not performing to the standards they are capable of.Performance is not possible without potential, and potential in itself does not lead to performance, unless the employee stretches himself and surpasses himself.

What does HR do with an employee with potential?

What if an employee has a lot of potential, but is yet to prove himself in terms of performance? This situation is arrived at when HR assesses that an employee has potential, meaning that he is capable of greater performance. How does it assess this quality? It is only when an employee is tried at various challenges that HR realizes that he has potential. Now, the problem arises when someone with potential does not perform to expectations. What could be holding such an employee back?

Performance without potential –is it possible?

For a person to perform, some kind of ability has to exist. But ability is different from capability. Ability means that there is a known or demonstrated strength a person possesses; whereas capability means that a person has some latent ability to do a certain thing, but that quality is as yet unproven. It is only with ability that a person can perform. So, this means that potential is a quality with which a person can attain higher performance than he has achieved.

Identify and give opportunities

The HR of an organization has to first identify the potential a candidate has towards a certain work or task. This assessment is very important, because doing this incorrectly could lead to all kinds of problems. When it realizes that a person is capable of raising the bar and can do much better than he has been doing till now, it should get such an employee’s manager to give him more varied challenges. When the candidate is able to meet most of these, he can be termed an employee who has lived up to his potential. When he shows a lot of potential, but is unable to deliver on most counts; such an employee should be considered average or below average and must be taken off extra tasks and responsibilities

Judgment is critical

The whole exercise revolves round assessment, because getting an employee wrong is perhaps the most irreparable mistake an organization can do. Overestimating and underestimating are both equally dangerous. It doesn’t create the right opinion in either HR or the management about the employee, with the result that all sides will be disappointed. Another important aspect is that of expectations. They have to be realistic and up to the mark. HR has to then start a new process of evaluating the reasons for which such a person did not perform to potential, and has to then take its decision afresh about such employees.

Contact Details

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