Career Growth – High Performance vs. Potential

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Most people work hard to get promoted but the reality is that your current performance does not necessarily earn you a promotion. The question “where do you see yourself five years from now?” is all so familiar to people in the corporate world. The more important question, however, is where does your employer see you five years from now? An employee looking for career advancement needs to have this question on his or her raider. If at all possible, ask your boss the question annually: “’boss’, where do you see me within this organization five years from now?” Constantly attempt to understand if your current high performance will translate to potential promotion at your current organization. If it will not, it is time to start looking for an organization that see potential in you or it’s time to find ways to translate your performance to potential with your current employer.

The concept of high performance vs. potential in the work place sounds foreign because most people assume that they should get promoted based on performance. An executive I once worked for was the first to open my eyes to the model of performance vs. potential. She helped me understanding it carries more weight for the leadership team at an organization see potential in you than for you to be recognized for great performance in your current role.

Most times people mistake high performance with potential. Employees that always get great performance reviews but never gets promoted are common in the work place. Granted some employees do not want to get promoted because they are comfortable with their current level of responsibility, but there are quite a few employees that will love to get promoted but are not seeing the promotion come to fruition. Why? The answer is simple, while you are exceptional at your current role, your employer does not consider you promotable. i.e, you could be the best pencil sharpening person at your work place but your employer may not be able to picture you successfully leading a team of other pencil sharpening people. It all comes down to the perception an employer has about an employee.

From talking to other executives I have come to understand that in every situation at work no matter how trivial it may seem, body language, appearance, and perspective are a few drivers to how people create their views about you. The most important factor being your perspective. An employer can easily discern employees that are showing up just for the pay-check vs. employees that have genuine interest in moving the company forward.

There is no math on how to improve your potential at an organization because every organization is not the same and the political atmosphere at organizations are unique. Hoping to get promoted on current performance a myth, if your employer cannot see your potential you need to seek an organization that see potential in you. So on your next interview, ask the interviewer “where do you see me five years from now within this organization?”


Written By Lola Fajemirokun



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