Leadership Insights

Published on May 23, 2019.

In an ideal world all faculty and staff would be high performers with high potential, while that’s not the case, knowing how to develop them can help to move them in the right direction.

Feature Insight

Coaching for Performance and Potential

Offering feedback and coaching your employees on their performance is the most important part of your job as a someone who oversees the work of others. Your employees look to you for guidance and support in both what they accomplish and how they accomplish it. In order to be truly effective, your feedback needs to  be different depending on the employee’s level of performance, potential for growth, and readiness for advancement.


Understand Performance, Potential, and Readiness

Performance—A person's level of performance can be measured by how well they are meeting the requirements of their current role.

  • A high performer consistently exceeds expectations both in what they accomplish and how they accomplish it.
  • A low performer falls short of expectations across many projects and for an extended period of time.

Potential—Potential refers to the possibility that an employee can succeed in a larger role with more complex challenges.

  • High potential employees demonstrate the ability to learn the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for successful performance at advanced levels. They are able to solve complex problems and persist when faced with mistakes, setbacks, or roadblocks. They are also highly motivated and respond well to feedback.
  • Someone with low potential is unlikely to be able to successfully develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities, for advancement even with the right opportunity or coaching. Keep in mind that potential can change over time based on their motivation and openness to feedback.

Readiness—Readiness describes a person’s preparedness for the next level. A person is considered ready if they already have the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for a bigger, more complex role.


Focus Your Feedback

Understanding these terms is necessary to assess your employees and offer the most impactful feedback and guidance.

Low performance, low potential.

Focus your feedback on their performance. It‘s most helpful to provide specific examples that describe the situation, their behavior, and the impact of their behavior. Then clarify expectations for their results, create goals for improvement, and schedule a time to follow-up.

Low performance, high potential.

First understand what might be contributing to their low performance. Are they in a new role? Are their goals unrealistic? Is there change within your area that’s affecting their performance? Then, offer guidance on building their knowledge and skills. For example, if missing deadlines is causing their low performance, bring their attention to specific instances when that occurred and help them build their time management skills.

High performance, low potential.

These individuals consistently achieve results but may need guidance in development planning. Ask them about their interests, goals, and aspirations, and find matching opportunities to help them stay engaged. Keep in mind that potential can change over time based on their motivation and openness to feedback.

High performance, high potential.

Focus your feedback and coaching on sustaining, reinforcing, and recognizing their performance. Give them constant encouragement and assign them challenging projects to keep them engaged. These individuals are our future leaders.

Finally, feedback and coaching isn’t something that only happens during a formal review. Make a point to integrate feedback into your daily interactions. Look for moments that will help your colleagues to learn and grow. Mention those moments and how they behaved when you give feedback.

LTD consultants have expertise in leadership development, engagement, and supervisory development. If you have questions about employee engagement, send us an email. We’ll do our best to respond and may even feature it in the next newsletter.  

How do you motivate someone who is getting their work done, but doing so in a way that has a negative impact on others?

Talk with them about their actions and how it affects others. GIve them examples that describe the situation, how they behaved, and the impact of their behavior. Also, help them understand how changing their behavior will benefit them as an individual.