How to identify an employee with development potential

As a priority element of B-BBEE, skills development done properly is worth 25 points on the scorecard and its effects on the economy profound and lasting. So, how do you go about identifying the people most likely to benefit from your time, efforts and costs?

Deon Oberholzer, Director at ProudAfrique Human Capital, says we need to sharpen our skills at identifying employees with the potential to be far greater than they are right now. It’s not as easy as an IQ or EQ test, though.

Psychometric testing, among other devices and technologies, are used by professionals to determine traits in employees that can help to reduce conflict and improve communication while building teams that work together effectively. Some information gleaned this way can help individuals to achieve their potential and even assist in the development of leaders from within a company.

However, there is still much to be said for “gut feel” and talking to a potential candidate about their background, ambitions and plans. I’d recommend an informal “chat” rather than an interview, on more than one occasion. This will help you to determine a key aspect of long-term success for the candidate, namely communication skills.

We are also somewhat hindered by our perceptions of the culture, background and abilities of staff and we need to break through that to see the real potential of people without these restrictions. We could provide junior staff with stretch tasks and see how they approach them, but there is a danger. For one person thinking outside the box may be a sign of potential and for another it might be seen to be disrespectful.

Watch for characteristics shown when change is required and how your potential candidate works with others – both taking orders and giving them, where necessary. Not everyone who undergoes skills development will be a leader, and that is not required. What every business should be looking for is that individual or group that shows passion for their work and the desire to get the best from themselves.

Essentially, you’re looking for self-awareness; the ability to use their initiative when things don’t go according to plan; and the people who don’t think they are better than others, they just strive to be better than they were at the start of their work journey.

Once you’ve identified the person or people you feel would best contribute to your workplace and society as a whole with development, then navigate through some of the programs available that help set a career path for them. It’s vital to get assistance with this phase of your B-BBEE growth if you haven’t undertaken it before.