Author: Surya Prakash Mohapatra

Performance or Potential?  Which one would you choose, when you are evaluating employees for growth opportunities.?  This question has been nagging HR and Business leaders alike for years. While the industry caught up with this debate, I believe that leaders should not confine their thinking to ‘potential’ and ‘performance’ only. They should look beyond these two. While ‘potential’ and ‘performance’ are highly important, there are other criteria we should look at. I describe the criteria for growth as the 4 P’s for growth. The 4 P’s  are: POTENTIAL, PERFORMANCE. PASSION AND PRIORITY. Let’s take a closer look at each one of them below:


When it comes to growth, the first criterion is ‘potential’. While evaluating a candidate for a bigger role, first check if he/she has the required competencies and skill-set for the role . Find out if he/she is demonstrating the right attitude and behavior. Assessing potential helps leaders in determining the readiness of a candidate. A candidate could  be 100{8ead27c4518c0b10559874054ae3fda4d54ed4b9784c4144c679fdb93c45d0af} ready or partly ready or not ready at all for the next role.


 But potential is not enough. Also important is Performance of the candidate. Performance shows the track record of the person. Performance shows that the candidate has translated potential into results in the past. It could also mean that the person can execute.  We have seen many professionals who have shown great potential earlier on but have failed miserably to convert their potential into outcomes later.


We saw how important performance and potential can be when it comes to growth. But my two cents to HR leaders is: Don’t take your final call only basis these two criteria. There are more criteria than what meets the eye. The third one is Passion. Ask yourself, if the new role is going to be exciting and challenging enough for the candidate. If he/she is not passionate about his new assignment, he/she may take it up out of temptation for money and position. Once the glamour of the new position fizzles out, they might look for greener pastures again.  Now a days there are several psychometrics assessments which can help you determine the passions/likes/dislikes of an individual. The other source is manager’s feedback. If a manager doesn’t know what is/her team members are passionate about or not about, then there is a problem.


The fourth criterion is ‘priority’. As part of the evaluation process find out what the priorities of the person are. I had a friend who worked for a multi-national company in Hyderabad in India. She is highly talented. She has great potential and a brilliant track record of results. She was on the growth path and was offered the next level. She refused to take it up because in the new role she was asked to relocate to Singapore. She refused because her priorities in life at that point in time were different. She had aging parents who lived with her. Her priority at that point in time was to look after her elderly parents rather than grow.