3 Simple Steps to Assess High Potential Employees

26 Sep 2018

We live in a time in which the standard of success in business changes dramatically and become more dependent on the HR department success. Leaders are the most responsible for the success of any business. Therefore, one of the hardest things is to make the right decision when choosing the employees for such leadership roles. In order to facilitate the selection process, HR department depends on versatile tools, one of them is Assessment.

Since people are the most valuable organization’s assets, high potential employees are even more valuable. Therefore, it is very important to conduct a potential employee assessment, especially for the leadership role in the organization.

  What is potential?

Throughout our journey in helping organizations in their High-potential programs, we found out that a lot of organizations establish such a programs without even putting a clear definition for “Potential.” We can define “Potential” simply as: Someone’s ability to succeed in a bigger position or role in the future. To be more specific, we here are talking about someone’s ability to grow and handle a more complicated position with more responsibilities and larger budget and staff.

  How do potential and performance differ?

There are so many organizations that mix between “Potential” and “Performance.” When conducting an assessment, an organization must separate between the two concept in order to select correctly and to have the results it sought for. Performance indicates the person’s ability to succeed and achieve results in their current job. Consequently, assessing performance would focus on the employee’s ability to succeed in his/her current role or job. On the other hand, Potential basically focuses on what’s ahead, and potential assessment focuses on assessing employee’s ability in a greater role. It’s true that current performance is a very important indicator of potential, but it’s not the only one. In fact, a research conducted by CEB reports that “Only one in seven high performers are actually high-potential employees.” As a consequence, mixing between the two concepts will affect hugely on your assessment results.

  How do we assess potential?

Select with care: Organizations need to establish a very accurate selecting process in order to avoid the costs of any faulty assessment. The costs will not be in the terms of training and developing the wrong people only, but in the results of their work before discovering that they are not the right fit for the position. In addition, it would undermine the employee’s morale, especially those who deserve the position. Thus, high-Potential program must be established very carefully and must be taken seriously.


Define what the potential is for: There must be a clear definition of the position requirements before starting the assessment. Many organization perform assessments and select potential without referring to a specific position profile, which is wrong. The metrics will differ from a position to another; for example, if you are assessing potential to lead the HR department, it will differ greatly than assessing potential to take an international role. Define a specific attributes and skills for every position that the candidates must meet when selecting. These skills may contain technical, social, and even language skills. In brief, make it a very specific and very well arranged process. Another important point organization must consider when identifying potential, considering not only where the business is, but rather where it is going.


Make it an unbiased decision: Many organization assign assessing potential process to the managers or division leaders, which affects the results dramatically. In most cases, managers tend to find people very similar to their own perspectives and personality, which means that people who may have high potential, maybe way better than him/her, but differs from him would be excluded. Moreover, this will cause in disheartening employees because of the unfair way of assessment. Therefore, this process must be an objective recruiting process.

Having a clear process and clear objective data will make it easy to know if the candidate will be a great fit for a specific position. However, things don’t stop when selecting a candidate; there must be monitoring and following up with the selected candidates. Again, since your employees are the most valuable assets, high potential are your untapped treasure.


  Bakkah team for training and consulting

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