We’ve often heard leaders say that someone has the potential to make it big. Psychometric employment tests have been used for many decades to determine the best candidates in schools, military, sports and business. But there are many who believe that using psychology to predict and quantify individual performance is unfair as it leaves out one very important factor - our freedom to choose the right path for ourselves. So what is this potential and how is an individual’s ‘potential’ measured?
Researchers define potential as “the skill and the will to develop and perform at a higher level in future. So, in effect, potential sets the benchmark and refers to the abilities demonstrated by an individual to perform at a certain desirable level.
The potential of an individual is measured by a method called Potential Analysis that assesses their abilities and skills, and whether or not they have the ability to develop those skills further. This is accomplished through a series of tests to assess their personality and skills.
Intelligence tests are the most common method of measuring the potential of a person. These tests are often aimed at assessing the cognitive capabilities along with verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning. Most organizations take intelligence as the baseline of individual potential that indicates whether someone is capable of developing their skills further or not. It is the reason why candidates from premier institutes have a better chance at being hired for a job than the rest of us. However, in spite of this reasoning, intelligence is not the only parameter to judge potential of a person.
Along with intelligence, an increasing number of organizations are measuring personality to gauge potential of people. Everyone is capable of adapting to different situations, however, there are certain personality traits that enable some people to adapt quicker than others. These traits often impact the person’s behavior and provide a better view of their potential than intelligence alone.
Principles, values and motivation
An individual’s principles are hard to judge, but offer a deeper insight into their character. They define the kind of choices a person is expected to make in tough situations. These principles and value system when combined with the organizational value system, can deliver better results for both the individual and the organization. This combination gives rise to the motivation for an individual’s choices and impacts their decision-making skills that have a direct correlation with the organizational results.
Situational tests are practical case studies that offer the most accurate assessment of a person’s potential. These tests are designed according to the individual’s core skills. Through these tests, the individual is asked to resolve a fictional situation involving considerable amounts of risk by using every tool at their disposal with limited data, be it a presentation, group discussion, negotiation between conflicting parties or other such small group activities. It allows the individual a chance to go beyond their perceived skills and strengths to showcase their adaptability, motivation and intelligence in a new light.
In the end
Human potential is indeed a measurable entity, and organizations do it all the time. However, most often than not, they forget to use scientific methods in lieu of intuition and opinions to evaluate people and give them actionable feedback on their potential. But increasingly, organizations are beginning to understand the importance of these methods to quantify potential of an individual. After all, economics and business are based on real science and not predictions, so why not utilize the same to better understand people as well.