10 Steps to Evaluate An Employee’s Potential

How much money will be spent at your company before you have a fool-proof process for evaluating potential? Well that is what this article is all about. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that every dollar spent is a wise one. How do you do that? By testing and measuring of course!

Key question: What is the difference between praise and encouragement? Very simple: In every puzzle, there are “little pieces” that must fit together. All of the pieces are needed to form the complete picture. We must put each piece where it goes to finish the puzzle. If we try to force the pieces in, what happens? We ruin the puzzle.

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NOTE: Every game has a winner and a loser. I don’t mean the term “loser” negatively; I intend it to simply be the opposite of “winner” in this case.

Are you spending your precious energy being upset about the “losers” (puzzle pieces that don’t fit) in your environment? Or are you focusing on the “winners” (puzzle pieces that do fit). In order for winners to act like winners, we must:

  • Model the winning attitude and the acts of a winner
  • Speak with excitement about our role to encourage emulation of that role

FACT: It is the individual’s perception of their own ability that determines whether or not they try to learn new things.

NOTE: “Teacher” is defined as the mentor and “Student” is defined as the individual learning.

Below are the 10 steps you need to perform to allow the individual that is learning something new to have a positive self-concept. This is turn will foster high self-esteem, which will allow more productivity.

1. Assessment of learning potential & skill level

  • What is the proper instructional level?
  • What is the most effective learning style?
  • What are the apparent academic strengths?
  • What are their apparent personal strengths?
  • Have we shared with the individual what we perceive to be the strengths, or have we only spoken about the weaknesses?

Key: We reap what we sow and the focus on the strengths of the individual must come first before anything else.

2. Structure assignments based on the assessment

  • Do it in a way that will ensure 85-90% success with a reasonable amount of effort
  • Look at the length of the assignment and modify the assignments based on the assessment
  • Ensure proper instruction and guidance is available
  • Allow them to realize that success is a component of the task, but not all of it
  • Ask questions like “What will you do first?”, “What will you do next?” etc.
  • Allow the assignment to be broken down into small, manageable tasks

Key: The individual must arrive at a point to where they can visualize themselves being successful with the assignment.

3. Review the relationship between self-esteem and motivation

  • Zero in on “Is this a self-concept problem?”
  • Is the individual trying to avoid the assignment, so as to avoid the pain of facing failure?
  • Does the individual realize that failure begins within the mind and ends up becoming action?

Key: The lack of motivation directly reflects the fear of failure.

4. Assess the “student” vs. “teacher” relationship

  • Is this viewed as an adversarial relationship?
  • Is force or influence required to be used in order to encourage completion?
  • Are attention span problems happening when the instruction is given?
  • Is there any manipulation taking place?
  • Look for passive/aggressive behaviors
  • Are there frequent excuses regarding instructions such as “I forgot”, “I don’t understand”, etc.?
  • Is there respect mutual present in the relationship, or is the relationship flawed?

Key: Realize that if the mentor relationship is a problem, there may be a deeper problem of inferiority present.

NOTE: If any of these are happening, immediately go to step 10, to help build the relationship.

5. Assess the individual’s resistance to either the “teacher” or to the learning

  • Implement a “diagnostic period” of 2 weeks minimum
  • Remove extra incentives until assignment is completed
  • Put more pressure on completion of the assignment to measure “response-ability” (responsibility)
  • Did they speed up? If so = The individual believes in themself and will do what it takes to succeed
  • Did they slow down? If so = The individual does not believe in themselves and will not try very hard

Key: The reason for this is to diagnose and observe the changes the individual makes to compensate and the effectiveness of pressure placed on the individual.

6. Share the results of the findings

  • Explain what affect pressure generated on the individual
  • Realize that by placing this type of pressure, you can become the “problem” and not the “solution”
  • Analyze the techniques employed and share their effect
  • Use the findings and share them in a sincere and effective way, to generate a response

Key: The results of the findings will determine if the individual learns by “thinking” or learns by “doing”.

7. Replace praise with encouragement

  • Always remember not to praise the individual about things they are not confident in themselves about in front of others, do it privately and avoid the psychological stress and anxiety
  • Be descriptive about accomplishments and avoid general statements
  • By noticing and describing, the individual will judge for themselves whether it is good or bad
  • Put an emphasis on feelings by saying “I bet you are proud” as opposed to “That really makes me proud”
  • Stress the value recognized in the effort that was put forth, not necessarily the results
  • Avoid judgmental statements and opinions
  • Realize that the way to be positive is to focus on the encouragement
  • Remember that for some, praise is received as a put-down

Key: Positive reinforcement is the most important component to solving the problem and will inspire the individual tremendously.

8. Implementation of “Attribution Theory” by the “teacher” based on behavioral type

Definition: Concept that people make sense of their surroundings on the basis of what they consider is the cause and what is the effect of a phenomenon. It suggests that individuals observe their own behavior or experience, try to figure out what caused it, and then (whether or not their conclusion is in fact correct) shape their future behavior accordingly. If a consumer, for example, has had a bad experience with a locally made product (and good experience with an imported one) he or she may conclude that the bad product is bad because it is locally made.

  • Choice: If a behavior is freely chosen it is believed to be due to internal (dispositional) factors
  • Accidental vs. Intentional behavior: Behavior that is intentional is likely to a attributed to the person’s personality and behavior which is accidental is likely to be attributed to situation/external causes.
  • Social Desirability: Behaviors low in sociably desirability (not conforming) lead us to make (internal) dispositional inferences more than socially undesirable behaviors. For example, if you observe a person getting on a bus and sitting on the floor instead of one of the seats. This behavior has low social desirability (non-conforming) and is likely corresponding with the personality of the individual.
  • Non-Common effects: If the other person’s behavior has important consequences for ourselves. For example if the person asks us out on a date we assume it was the fact that they like you that was important (not that you were simply available!).
  • Hedonistic Relevance: If the other person’s behavior appears to be directly intended to benefit or harm us, we assume that it is “personal”, and not just a by-product of the situation we are both in.
  • Rather than “correcting” the individual, sit down with them and ask them to describe why they were successful
  • Reinforce what was done correctly and practice Step 7

Key: Understanding just how powerful it can be to separate the behavior from the individual

9. Ask the leadership to implement the “Attribution Theory” also

  • It is essential for everyone to be on the same page

Key: Treating the problem, not the symptoms and remembering that positive results take time.

10. Build the relationship by sharing the message of hope

  • Think of Helen Keller and her ability to overcome circumstance
  • Remember that your time with the individual is but one short period of time in their lifetime
  • The contribution made to the individual can never be taken away; it is a permanent fixture in that individual’s life.
  • Did you treat the symptoms? Or the problem?

Key: Remembering that all things worth having take time to acquire.

Those that are the most successful are the ones that go in with the mindset of “I cannot do it by myself” and seek assistance. They go in and do the best they can with their knowledge base and pass on what they have learned to the next person.

The most ineffective are those that look for the “quick fix” and try to do it alone.

The success in this endeavor depends on these 10 steps outlined above. What are you doing to help your people reach their potential?

Christopher Gould – President

Gould Design, Inc.