Organizations today need both performance and potential. Performance keeps your business running, churning numbers etc, whereas potential looks at an employee that can bring your company to the next level, and the collective human potential in the organization is the greatest thing the organization should ever invest in, because it is the driving force to catalyze the business growth and build the unique organizational advantage the competitors cannot beat. So, how to understand both potential and performance at the deeper level, bridge the gap to unleash the collective potential and accelerate business performance to the next level?
Performance vs. Potential: Performance keeps the business moving, and the potential makes the business grow and mature. The potential is the ability and interest to take on more responsibilities in the future which is displayed by their thought leadership or exemplified behavior. Performance is well done of current assignments and demonstrated the capacity of doing great work. However, do not assume though the top performers are the “top talent” for the future. The management should continue making talent assessment: How well does the individual continue to perform and grow in their current roles? And how likely are they to take on new challenges at work, rapidly learn and grow into next-level roles, or roles that are expanded and redefined as business changes? The difference between senior leadership and middle management is not just about sharpening more linear skillset, it often needs the radical mind shift and nonlinear capability building. Because there is a significant difference between strategy management (discovering and realizing the business potential) and operational management (keeping the lights on and managing business performance). Hence, high performers may be at the top of their game at the moment, but the question is how well will they adapt to changes, having learning agility or their innate capability to keep advancing their career. When the rule is fair, high capable professionals with high potential should be put in the right position to solve the right problems and expedite digital transformation. Potential is about future performance, not past performance. Individuals showing potential are distinguished usually by their mastery of new roles quickly and effectively, learning more rapidly than their peers, more innovate. The potential is the ability and interest to take on more responsibilities in the future which is displayed by their advanced mindset to lead forward; digital capability portfolio to lead effectively and exemplified behavior to walk the talk.
Closing the MIND gap between talent and mediocrity: The high performers and high potential are both needed to lead the team towards a new reality. The one thing to differentiate talented people (either high performance or high potential) from mediocrity is MINDSET, which further drives attitude. The worst mediocrity is not “the mediocre result,” but a complacent mind, negative mentality, and mediocre attitude. High performer keeps engaging in current position with a perfecting mind, high potential keeps learning for expanding the horizon with a growth mind, and they either demonstrate the positive attitude or constructive criticism to build a healthy or even creative workplace.But mediocrity often brings negative attitude, sometimes compete via unprofessionalism or lower team morality. Hence, it is important to close the talent gap at the mindset level, If you want to create a truly high-performance team, you have to understand your people at the deep level, and build the culture to encourage creativity, learning, and well align the employee’s professional goal with the strategic business goal, to discourage mediocrity which is often the root cause of negative vibes in the workplace, and encourage talent to unleash their potential, and therefore, the collective potential of the business.
Bridging the gap in performance management: With the digital paradigm shift, many management practices across the business disciplines should also be updated accordingly. From performance management perspective, there are many things need to think through and the next digital practices should be developed and experimented for adapting to the dynamic digital workforce today. There is a need to evaluate the performance of employees in more objective and continuous way. There is a danger of not having a process to "develop and nurture" potential and performance. The thought process, behavior, and outcome need to be assessed cohesively, to truly understand the talented employee as a whole consistently, not just the human cost or the human resource to fill a specific spot mechanically; but the living cell needs to keep growing and blossom. That is the significant difference between the silo industrial age and the dynamic digital era.
Always keep the end in mind. The goal of bridging the potential gap is to achieve business excellence, improving employee satisfaction and accelerating digital transformation. Digital is the age of people, and one of the critical management goals is to build a positive, innovative, and high-performance culture for achieving a better return on capital (including human capital- the critical business success factor) investment to boost the long-term business prosperity.