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How to expose Potential in business?



Virginie Graziani

Talent Management & Synergologist

9 June 2022

Reading Time: 5 minutes



Detecting an employee with potential requires a willingness to invest in skills assessment. Then, knowing how to support, motivate and retain an executive with potential requires a real talent management policy. However, as soon as talented employees are identified, many questions arise. Indeed, how should the company manage the different profiles identified? And above all, should an employee be told that he or she has potential? What reactions should be expected? And how to proceed?

The objectives of a talent map


Following the implementation of a talent map, the company sometimes has the feeling of finding itself in a dead end. Faced with the pragmatic observation that some of today’s high-performing employees are not necessarily tomorrow’s high-potential managers, companies often wonder how to make the best use of the skills of all their teams.

Indeed, potential takes different forms depending on the context of the company and its strategic challenges. This is why the evaluation must also be adapted to the company culture, as well as to the expectations in the organisation chart. Competence does not therefore determine potential. And potential cannot be evaluated in absolute terms. Therefore, there are often surprises at the end of a talent map.

In the construction of people reviews or careers committees, managers and HR generally supplement their respective contributions with other internal and external elements such as the 360 or the Assessment Center. Since competence is a starting point, it is also a question of cultivating it by continuing to develop the employee’s field of possibilities. A beautiful mechanism that is at a standstill will eventually stop working.


Talent mapping … and afterwards?


The company is often unsettled to discover that an employee may be very good in his or her function, without having the necessary resources to excel in another function, such as management. For the employee, this represents a change of job and therefore a change in skills and attitudes, in a new environment.

In a talent mapping process, the company quickly questions the fate of its employees. Some maps make a rather brutal distinction between the best performers, those with potential and the least talented. In fact, if certain profiles fit into the “good students” box, this may mean that others are less talented.

The mapping tool should not overshadow its purpose. This visualisation matrix is above all a photo at a given moment. It is not about putting labels on the members of a team. On the contrary, it is about working on the development of individual and collective competencies. So how do you share this type of information internally?


Preparing for the identification of potential


To prepare the company and its teams, there is nothing better than defining and communicating the objectives before any identification of potential process. Indeed, management, HR and managers must be in tune: shared objectives for the process and a common vocabulary, ideally co-constructed. Once again, the tool is only a means, it is the state of mind that counts.

Depending on the company culture and the context, the assessment may be seen as a punishment by employees, whereas it represents a real opportunity for future development. It is not a question of creating divisions; on the contrary, everyone can be supported in an appropriate way, it is just a question of managerial courage.

Also, the approach must above all involve each party: the employee, his or her manager, HR, right up to the management, which puts the mapping into perspective, in the service of the company’s strategy. This is why the system must be as transparent as possible. Companies display their values but sometimes forget to communicate clearly on the behaviour expected in a function.


Supporting and retaining talent


When expectations are shared at a level of expected know-how and interpersonal skills, employees are better able to position themselves. This is a form of autonomy and control over one’s own position in the company. It also facilitates and clarifies the position of middle managers, as well as their feedback.

Each individual needs to have meaning and to feel different from his colleague. Co-construction at different levels allows one to be fully involved in the company, its processes and its strategy. Differentiation is the key to both recognition and talent management. In order to guide and support an individual well, it is first necessary to know them well, this time from the point of view of their transversal skills and their potential.

And this is what classifications such as the 9 box matrix cannot reflect. How can you represent all the richness and range of personality, skills and potential of a team in 9 boxes? Also, informing an employee about his or her place in the matrix does not make much sense. It is better to communicate and share with them the assets they have been recognised as well as their identified potential, provided that they are prepared to accompany them on the path of their future development.

In conclusion, the assessment and/or identification of potential should not be used to complete a table or an HRIS. Its primary purpose is to prepare an entire system to support an employee so that he or she can make maximum use of his or her current skills, in an appropriate ecosystem. In the first instance, the mapping therefore makes it possible to validate that the employee is in the right place. In the second stage, it is a question of co-constructing the next stage of his or her career within the company, by accompanying him or her either in a mobility process or simply in the development of his or her skills. Everything therefore remains to be built together.



Discover the talent management lever: the Assessment Center


The Assessment or Development Center are methodologies that use a professional situation. The objective is to carry out a precise diagnosis of the strengths and areas for improvement of a candidate or employee.

In the context of recruitment, this stage enables the company to advise on a suitable integration plan for the individual’s personality and skills.

Also, having a global vision of talent is essential to prepare a new organisation within a company. In the case of internal mobility, the assessment includes specific recommendations on a development plan.


Whatever your objectives, we can help you attract, motivate and find the right talent. To contact us, use the contact form or write to us directly at contact@apostrof.fr



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RH Consulting – Talent Management
Scientific evaluation of skills and potential

Expert in the evaluation and development of resources, skills and potential, Apostrof helps you make the right decisions regarding recruitment, annual interviews, professional training, organisation of operational staff, career management and professional development, succession plans and high potential..

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