Performance and potential, are they dependent on one another?  One might say that it is your past performances that will influence your future potential, but then how do you account for growth?

The Performance and Potential Matrix is a tool that can be used by any organization and the benefits can be seen almost immediately.  It does recognize the fact that performance and potential do influence one another; however they do not directly depend on one another.

For instance, if you have two employees, a researcher and an analyst, and they both are the best in their fields; they might have already reached their highest potential.  However if you think the researcher, whose performance is impressive, has not reached their potential, you can use this matrix, or 9 box, to assess what they are doing well and where else their work would benefit.

As a leader it is your job to influence your team’s performance.  If your team is not a high performing team you might implement some incentive programs to bring improve performance.  However as far as a specific team member’s potential goes, you cannot do much to influence potential.  As a leader it is your job to coach your team members to realize their own potential.

So once you have coached, what do you do after they recognize their opportunities and potential?

Allow every team member access to the 9 Box
The best part of the Performance and Potential Matrix is that it is completely free, other than committing some time to present the matrix.  The 9 Box will show the results directly to the team member and will, hopefully, result in a moment of realization.  Give each team member your time to sit down with them and discuss the results.  Make it a coachable moment.

Influence as little as possible
If there is an issue with your team member’s performance, then corrective actions should be taken.  However if they are not living up to their potential, there is not much else you can do other than coach them on how to improve.  Warning: Do not try to help any one employee over the other to reach their potential.  Your team might think that you are being biased and choosing favorites.

It is their potential, not yours
It is their own potential that they have to live up to, not the perceived one that you have for them.  Whatever you see inside of an employee might not be seen by all.  We each have to develop in our own way, and if you try to influence you could just be turning them into the employee that you want but not what they want.

Allow this matrix to help you out as much as possible, but at the same time realize that each individual reaches their potential different ways.  I never want to see someone become the next big me, I tell them I want to see you become the first great you.

What was some of the best advice you ever received while trying to find your own potential?