Who is a Talent?


Who is a Talent?


Rate this post

This is probably one of the most important questions Talent Management specialists/Human Resource professionals are required to answer and not only answer, but do so intelligently.

Dodgy and cliché responses like “it depends” will not do their organisations or profession any good. For Talent Management/HR professionals to retain their credibility, they must have a well thought through and strategic answer to this very important question.

So who is a Talent? — An apt definition of Talent emphasises its dynamic nature. It defines Talent as the ability and the capability to do something well.

This implies that Talent has two components: Ability (current performance)and Capability (potential performance).

Ability is about the nowcapability is about the future.

Both can be observed, tested and measured. Observability and measurability are essential to any objective discussion of Talent because if you can’t observe something and you can’t measure it, then how can you be expected to recognise it, let alone evaluate it?

This brings us to the very important but extremely controversial issue of Talent Evaluation. Measuring and evaluating current performance (ability) is rather straightforward and most organisations do this relatively well. What is truly strategic and where competitive advantage lies for savvy organisations with exceptional Talent Management Practices is in the area of Evaluating/Assessing for Potential. However, from our experience based on the work we have done with several organisations, this practice is not currently being done very well (if at all).

So how are best practices organisations measuring potential?

According to research conducted by RBL Institute, the following parameters can be used to assess the potential of an individual:

  • Ambition
  • Ability
  • Agility
  • Achievement


Ambition — Does this person have the ambition to grow, test themselves, and become the best they can become in whatever career path they choose to follow?

Ability — Does this person have the basic abilities and intelligence to fulfill the highest levels of achievement in their chosen career path?

Agility — Does this person love to learn and attack career-related data to capture new and unique ideas that can be applied to solving business problems and building their career?

Achievement — Has this person been highly successful in their assignments and have a track record of exceptional success in all responsibilities they have been assigned?

Organisations interested in rating potentials of individuals can apply the rating scale below (on a scale of 1–5);

  • Very little potential — 1
  • Reached career potential — 2
  • Potential Worthy of our investment -3
  • Has huge potential — 4
  • Absolute winner — 5

Employee potential can and must be developed. The key to developing employee potential lies in the questions used to evaluate employees. One of the projects we work on with our client is designing Employee Potential Development (EPD) Framework for their Top Talents and High Potentials. After assessing the potentials of the employees, we come up with Development Plan customized for each individual on what to do to develop their potentials.

Have you rated yourself? How did you score? What about your direct reports?

On a scale of 1–5, how would you rate your potential?

Employee potential is crucial for succession planning and business continuity. Organisations who want to build to last will do well by measuring the potential of their employees on a regular basis.