Potential and career lines, how to make them a reality in companies?

Note published on November 9 in El EconomistaCapital Humano [Human Capital] Section by Blanya Correal Sarmiento.



Talent management has become increasingly important in organizations. The correlation between the business strategy and the required talent inventory becomes clearer every day, because to the extent that we are prepared with the right people in the key positions in the short, medium, and long term, we will improve the fundamental competitive advantage for growing or consolidating the company’s results.

This is easy to say, but the reality is that the evaluation of potential and career growth schemes is very challenging to implement; nevertheless, we now have very good practices that allow us to evolve and be more effective in this aspect.

There are several methodologies that seek to measure potential in a more objective manner. Lastly, what we seek is to anticipate people’s success upon taking greater responsibilities; therefore, schemes that are based on learning agility or competences have quite a solid basis for the identification of potential.

Nevertheless, identifying it is only the first step. The most important thing is to verify that the person is truly ready for taking on new challenges, also ensuring that said person grows to a level that is sufficient for mitigating the risk that could cause him to make a decision that is wrong for the business.

One of the successful practices that has had an impact on the succession plans of organizations with a strong emphasis on the development of potential is the Talent Acceleration Program or TAP scheme. This mechanism has four basic pillars that drive the identification and the development and assessment of potential:

» 1. Learning best business practices and network of experts

More than training, the TAP scheme seeks to ensure that executives obtain full knowledge of the successful practices in the business from those who have gotten the best results.

This achieves two objectives: on the one hand, ensuring that their performance is based on proven practices for the company; on the other hand, that the processes that have proven to be the most effective are maintained and improved upon; that is, there is learning at the individual and at the organizational level.

» 2. Real exposure to business challenges

The problem with many development programs is that they are based on training, not on practice or application; this is why the TAP scheme is designed from the basis of real experience.

Through mechanisms such as simulation, “shadowing”, role replacement and competencies gyms, the participants can learn and improve behaviors, knowledge and attitudes that will help them face unforeseen or more complex events, making their decision-making, their management of uncertainty or their leadership capabilities more mature, thus losing the fear of facing situations that require more competencies or are more challenging.

» 3. Multifactorial evaluation

Another problem in competencies acceleration programs lies in the subjectivity in the assessment of talent, that is, if the raw material (the person’s capabilities) is not good enough, then it will be difficult for the participant to take on greater challenges.

To this end, the TAP scheme integrates the perspective of multiple people that interact with the executive, it is an evaluation that goes beyond the 360 degree feedback, where the supervisor, peers, experts in each process, clients and experts in competencies evaluate the agility with which the participant learns and solves real challenges, which will be designed to ensure that he has the necessary level of maturity to grow in his responsibilities.

In this sense, TAP integrates variables around the person’s response when faced with challenges relating to change, people management, strategy analysis, vision of the competition, risk anticipation and long-term vision, which allow him to ensure both the strategy and an integral and effective execution. Additionally, this aligns career plans with organizational agility schemes, as they are no longer tied to the organization chart or to compensation levels.

» 4. Ranking and connection with the career plan

Once the assessment from multiple perspectives is integrated, it is possible to classify the level of preparedness for growth. This works as a model that is similar to that of a “reality show”, that is, the participant progresses in the possibility of assuming a new role to the extent to which he demonstrates competence, that is, through a promotion, taking responsibility for a new territory, the development of a new product, the process or management of a new team.

In this manner, in the measure in which the executive “rises” in the ranking, the better the possibility of growing in his career line. This has a very positive effect on the team as, in this manner, promotion decisions are based on visible results, which makes TAP a very transparent system for the organization that generates, in turn, a greater confidence in the executive that obtains the results, overcoming the imposter syndrome.

Lastly, a key element of the TAP scheme is that it is based on critical experiences rather than on positions, that is, the development of the executive is based on those challenges that can best help the person to “practice” and  put his knowledge, behaviors and attitudes “to the test” and, therefore, breaks the paradigm of career lines to evolve toward a new concept called “growth map”, more focused toward showing the most effective (and diverse) ways for preparing to face the changing challenges of the business.

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