The MPAP (Management Performance Appraisal Process) is what it says: A process for Appraisal of Performance. A good, simple and basic tool. But, is it enough? Is it exceptional enough, to assess exceptional employees?

To detecting exceptionalism in people, what is needed is an MP PAP where the extra P stands for Potential.

And before you make the sound statement that your company has in place a systematic process to identify high potentials, please be informed that 92% of the companies do not have. (Ok, got it! All of us belong to the remaining 8% ).

That means that while 100% of the companies are looking for potential, 92% of them make career decisions based on performance reviews.

This “habit” results into a triple risk and undermines the health of leadership:

A. The right individuals are not identified,

B. Key individuals who can have a real impact on the business are overlooked and

C. Potential future leaders get rejected based on irrelevant criteria.

To enhance comprehension on the subject, let us outline 5 simple differences between managing high performers and high potentials, (which may) constitute traps if not considered:

1. Time orientation:

Performance Appraisal is about the past, while Potential Appraisal is about the future. (e.g. Performance appraisal works job-wise, it may not work though career-wise.)

2. Focus:

Performance focuses on results, while Potential focuses on the individual’s ability to evolve.

3. Promotion:

Potential is a good sign of the individual’s ability to transform from specialist to generalist, when they get promoted to a managerial position. And it is also the best sign of the individual’s ability to transform from manager to leader when they enter the C-Suite. Both cases are major areas of success or failure.

Promoting high performers to positions that demand high potential is like assigning them to ruin the company’s culture, destroy the teams and sabotage the results …before you end up to dismiss them for poor performance!

4. Style

When managing high potential individuals, better do it in style. Challenge them to sustain their enthusiasm and provide them with autonomy and exposure. Potential individuals want to have impact on the business and to know that what they are doing matters.

Unlike high performers, command and control neither develop nor satisfy high potentials.

5. Purpose

High Potentials are definitely your future leaders. High Performers may not be.

The moment you are losing focus on potential, you are already creating the systemic future problem. It is called poor leadership.

If you agree that the process affects the outcome, before assessing your people asses the process. Ensure the extra P is not missing and a new Management Performance and Potential Appraisal Process is in place.

Needless to say, screening and assessing potential is harder, more complex, less specific and less tangible than measuring performance. It requires low level of politics in the organization, integrity, high level of alignment and good bonding among the members of the management team.

However it is meaningful, useful and effort worthy. A better way to assessing employees and managers entails better leaders for a better world!

Yiannis Koutsoumaris

Yiannis Koutsoumaris:

Master Leadership Coach and Trusted Adviser; twenty years of international corporate experience and more than 7000 hours in one-on-one c-level and political coaching sessions. Typically engages in medium-long term leadership advancement assignments with CEOs, to be promoted to CEOs, large scale business owners and political leaders.

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