Potential and Performance

Last week I heard from one of my clients that a very junior resource of her young enterprise outperformed every other person in the firm. In fact her performance gave the start-up the optimism needed to continue the journey in today’s challenging environment. The email exchanges around her performance taught me this:

  • This junior girl who outperformed everybody else was not the identified as the one with the most potential
  • This junior girl outperformed everybody else because she was focussed on executing what she was taught to do
  • This junior girl outperformed everybody else because she knew only focussed effort / hard work will help her achieve and perform
  • This junior girl outperformed everybody else because she had very limited things to do (role was clear)

Why did everybody else (so called high potential ones) not achieve in the same situation?

The others (especially those who were identified as individuals with a lot of potential) could not perform because:

  • They were told that they had potential
  • They were told that they have to do multiple things
  • They were told that they had to take lot of responsibility in the business
  • They were told that they were good and had to show the way to others

Clearly the lessons are evident. Here are my top take aways:

  1. Potential and Performance have a huge gap between
  2. If you focus on a single (or limited number of) task(s), chances of performance are high
  3. Focused effort (hard work) is an important factor of performance
  4. Potential (especially pointed out by others) is a big enemy to performance

The next time you think lack of great resources is what is stopping you from achieving success as a start-up, think twice! You may actually be able to build a performing workforce with a team with much lesser potential, which means much lesser cost. For entrepreneurs who struggle building teams, this is a very strong lesson. Performance can be got out of people with much less potential than what is seen as required.

Think!

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