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Whitepaper: Making better use of potential

Potentials are composed of several aspects such as basic skills, motives, orientations, values and affinities. They measure characteristics that are more fundamental than competencies and therefore have an effect throughout a person's entire professional life. Our new whitepaper shows how profound potential diagnostics can help with your personnel development and lead to the right personnel decisions.

Making the right personnel decisions with potential analyses

1. what are potentials?

The faster the changes and the more uncertain the future, the more important it is for companies to know how to deploy their employees most productively. An employee’s potential determines the contribution he or she can make to increasing the value of the company in the future. A potential analysis can be used to assess whether a new position matches an employee’s skills and goals. In this way, it is possible to avoid filling management positions with people who would be neither successful nor satisfied with the job. However, potential analyses are not only suitable for the assessment of managers. They can help all employees and organizations see if they are a good fit for each other and what opportunities they have for improvement.

Unfortunately, there is no uniform definition of potential. In human resource development, the concept sometimes refers to the difference between a person’s current competencies and the possible state after those competencies will have been refined and improved. However, potentials often overlap with competencies. There is one crucial aspect that distinguishes potentials from competencies: motivation.

Potential stands for a person’s ability to change. It indicates how much a person is intellectual, personal and motivational. Furthermore, how to face new challenges, learn and be willing to change.

2. how can potential be tapped?

Wherever the skills necessary to fulfill the job requirements of a position can be named, competencies form an efficient criterion for finding suitable candidates for a position. However, as soon as job requirements become dynamic and can change quickly, it becomes challenging to translate activity requirements into competency models so that they are always up to date Here, too, the measurement of potentials helps. However, potential analyses are by no means only useful for young talents and career starters. Potentials also measure characteristics that are more fundamental than competencies and have an impact throughout a person’s professional life.

Potential can be measured via potential analyses. Leadership potential analyses are certainly the best known. In addition to cognitive competencies, they also assess the motivation to want to lead, as well as values and personality traits such as curiosity, dealing with change, and initiative. Other potential analyses are carried out on a position-specific basis. For this purpose, it must be determined exactly which potentials are important for the targeted position. Otherwise, the analysis cannot be meaningful. This can only be dispensed with if a general potential analysis is used. But even here, a certain narrowing down – for example to sales, management or expert tasks – should not be dispensed with, even if they can be formulated more generally than in a position-specific potential analysis.

No matter which potential analysis is conducted, it should always take into account the five facets that together make up a person’s potential. It is composed of (1) basic skills such as general cognitive, social, and emotional competencies, (2) motives and goals, (3) personal values, (4) personality/character traits, and (5) affinities such as in the form of activity or topic preferences. What makes potential analyses so meaningful is the fact that each of these facets can be measured individually.

Potential analyses contribute to diagnoses

In order to efficiently develop new talents and successfully place long-term employees in new positions, potential analyses are an important diagnostic tool for personnel development. Potentials correlate with personality traits and thus provide exceedingly stable characterizations. They measure characteristics that are acquired from early childhood and that make us as personalities. Drastic biographical events, as well as incremental changes over a long period of time, can naturally transform these characteristics. People change, adapt to their environment, or find new strategies to meet their needs. However, the characteristics measured by potential analyses change slowly and, despite all dynamics, usually remain stable over long periods of life. This makes them indispensable for diagnostics that want to know what drives people and whether their motives, values, and affinities make them suitable for certain professional positions or activities.

In contrast to competence measurements, potential analyses do not only demonstrate the current suitability of a person for a company. They allow to predict whether a person can and will continue to develop new competencies in the future. Measuring potential also provides an opportunity to examine the fit between the values embodied by the employee and the organization. Potential analyses are suitable as an answer to a wide range of challenges in personnel management. They are a critical tool for making smart HR decisions in the highly dynamic VUCA world.

Take a closer look at the topic of potentials in our white paper “Potential analyses help you make the right personnel decisions” to learn how potentials are measured.

On our homepage you will find corresponding instruments with which we have been effectively identifying potentials for years and helping people as well as companies to orientate themselves to what is possible.

For further interesting insights please have a look at our whitepapers

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