Building Capability 2013 - Capability vs Potential, Richard Mackinnon, Talent Q
Capability vsPotentialImplications for RecruitmentDr. Richard A. MacKinnon17 May 2013
Overview• Understanding the difference between capability and potential• What does potential look like in your organisation?• How does this inform your recruitment strategy?• Identifying the risk of subsequent derailment• Managing applicant expectations through realistic job previews• The impact of a changing job market on your model of potential
Capability versus Potential• Capability to do what now, versus potential to do what in the future?• Potential to move up the ladder of seniority? Potential to lead the business?• Is potential limited?• Yes. And thats not a bad thing. We cant expect everyone to rise to the top.• Exposure to high potential schemes can be a self-fulfilling prophecy throughintensive development and exposure to key decision-makers.• Exploitation of potential isnt inevitable, it must be nurtured by the organisation.
Who assesses Potential?• Subjectivity is a frequent challenge: the “tap on the shoulder” approach• Frequently, line managers have input into this.• Personality factors associated with leadership potential can appeardisruptive at more junior levels.• Managers arent always great at objectively spotting potential.• The reverse is also true: managers may not want to release talentedindividuals to other roles.• Capability now and potential are often conflated, leading to frustrationand disappointment on both sides.
What does “Potential” look likein your organisation?
Some challenging questions…• Do you have a formal definition of “potential”?• Do you have more than one?• How recently have you revisited how this fits with your strategy?• Might you be simply cloning today’s top performers?• Are you being as objective as possible in measuring potential?• Have you any evidence that your “high potential” employees actuallymake a difference?
Considering Potential• Its important to have a shared understanding.• There may be multiple models: leadership potential, potential to be a technicalexpert, potential to pick up supervisory duties.• Models of potential must be revisited periodically, to ensure alignment with thebusiness strategy and its operating environment.• Think how much the recent financial crisis will have impacted what is required ofpeople in a range of sectors in the UK.• Dont steal other organisations models - akin to using their competencyframeworks.• But certain personality aspects, in combination with raw cognitive ability, aregenerally predictive of leadership success.
A philosophy for understanding Potential• Talent is an investment, and accurate decision-making is vital• Identifying potential and then developing it is therefore critical• Understanding derailment risks and managing these is key forindividuals to fulfil their potential and deliver for the organisation• Person/situation fit is a key factor in exploiting potential• We must consider appetite for advancement• Openness and transparency in processes to identify and develop• Objective assessment leads to defendable decisions and facilitatesevaluation and calculation of ROI
Talent Q’s Model of PotentialEmotional Domain Strategic Domain People DomainResilience Analytical Capacity Collaborating with othersAmbition Learning & Improving NetworkingCourage Developing Strategies Positive ImpactSeeking & EmbracingChangeDemonstrating Integrity
How should all this inform yourrecruitment strategy?
How should all this inform your recruitment strategy?• In short, it should.• Potential is just one part of a joined-up talent management strategy• It should not be viewed in isolation.• Recruitment activities should therefore reflect this in both methods andmodels• For example, using selection tools that can predict future performanceas well as what is required now• This requires recruiters and L&D practitioners to work in partnership
Linking Recruitment and DevelopmentRobust selectionmethodsOn-boarding anddevelopmentexplorationIdentification ofPotentialDevelopmentSupportValidation andFeedback intoselection
Managing the Risk of Derailment• This can happen in two ways:• You select extreme personalities and let them run amok in theorganisation• Your high potential programmes exacerbate pre-existing negativebehaviours
Managing the Risk of Derailment• In terms of the recruitment stage, its key to be sensitive to the potentialdownside of what look like strengths.• Consider what sort of profiles you are selecting against and keep an eyeout for extreme personalities.• They shouldnt be a sole deciding factor, but should be factored in to on-boarding and development activities• Consider the design of assessment exercises in assessment centres• Use a data-driven approach to developing role profiles - as opposed togut feel.
What are employers looking for?Our analysis of graduate role profile templates illustrates that graduaterecruiters consistently emphasise some personality traits over othersMost important Moderately Important Least ImportantConscientious Methodical SupportiveCommunicative Decisive ConsultativeInfluencing Achievement-oriented RelaxedSocially Confident Flexible ResilientAnalytical Conceptual Creative
Derailment could be facilitated by:• Ignoring clear behavioural issues while “performance” is excellent• Encouraging development and focus on a sub-set of traits, rather than amore rounded development plan• Rewarding attainment of KPIs and ignoring “softer” development needs• Waiting until too late before engaging in development or addressingunhelpful behaviours
Can you have too much of a good thing?• Employers typically adopt a threshold approach to selecting employees.• This is represented by looking for “just enough” or “more than” on arange of personality traits.• Unless used mindfully, this approach neglects the risks associated with“too much” of some aspects of personality.• These form the basis for either career limiters or derailers.
“Career Limiters” and “Derailers”• Certain clusters of behavioural preferences can be actively encouragedby organisations, but can simultaneously represent “double-edgedswords”.• Our model posits two ends of each scale:• “Career limiters” represent clusters of behaviour which can serve todelay or even prevent career advancement• “Derailers” are behavioural which can bring a promising career to anearly end
Hyper-sensitivityLacking sensitivity andsubtlety of perceptionShrewdperception andjudgmentEmotionalfragility,anxiety,paranoia
EccentricityConservative thinking,sticks to convention,“lazy” thinkingUnconventional,creative,develops novelideasPoor listeners,focused onnovelty oversubstance
IconoclasmToo passive andcomplacent, swayed bymajority, focused on others’opinionsTough-minded,able to break withconvention, makedifficult decisionsExcessive rule-breaking,intolerant andinsensitive toothers
Over-confidenceModest, avoidingleadership roles, avoidingcompetition and negotiationConfidence, self-belief, drive andcompetitiveness,positive self-conceptArrogance, lack ofself-awareness orown limitations,need to win andeclipse others
Micro-managementUnreliable and careless indetail, rules and processes.Rely on spontaneity ratherthan planningHighly methodicaland structured,paying attention todata and evidence.Conscientious.Inflexibleadherence to rules,details andprocesses.Analysis paralysis.
Managing Expectations• We can sometimes make problems for ourselves by over-selling theroles that applicants will actually fill.• Role descriptions can and do impact who applies for a role.• We can be over-optimistic about the responsibilities they can reasonablybe expected to take on• We can present a sunny-side up picture of the organisation and the role• Consider presenting a more balanced picture and emphasise the hardwork but also the rewards.• Presenting a more realistic preview of an employee’s journey throughthe ranks allows them to picture how their potential can be realised
The Changing Job Market• Recruitment activity should adapt to reflect changes in the socio-economic environment.• The next few years will see significant changes to what the graduatemarket looks like.• Increased emphasis on apprenticeships and in-house professionaltraining.• The recession has a “bumping down” effect on who applies for whatroles• All this will serve to blur the boundaries of how we have previouslyviewed talent
A challenge but also an opportunity• These changes represent an opportunity to revisit legacy approaches tocategorising talent and potential.• Recruiting organisations can approach the challenge with creativity andsolutions that are fit for purpose.• Again, a future focus is required, with models constantly under scrutinyfor utility and return on investment.• An emphasis on objectivity and data represents a firm foundation for allof this.
Key take-aways• Potential needs to be viewed in the context of the organisation• Ask yourself: “Potential to do what?”• Adopt a future focus and revisit your models of what “good” is• Using objective measures in recruitment facilitates identification ofpotential• Literal take-away: Talent Q whitepapers outlining potential andderailment available on USB sticks