The magic circle: how to consider potential and performance in 10 seconds

In only three measures; charisma, smarts and hard work, you can assess potential in the time it takes to read this blog. (including looking at yourself).

‎There has been substantial change in measuring performance, interviewing and recruitment, providing feedback and identifying potential. Some corporates have moved to no formal reviews with ongoing and systemic feedback and others are trying to push Digital Transformation – gamify, system driven and managed.

‎The problem with either is that what’s a good idea on paper needs to translate to something which works. Take a example of a three year cycle where feedback in year 1 says you were too quantitative and numbers based, and too precise on defining what good looks like. In year 2 you go too far into the qualitative side where it is harder to defend some decisions and feedback is that you weren’t specific enough. In year 3 you have a blend of the two which is cumbersome to deliver and feedback is that it takes too long.


Get Rid of the Performance Review! It destroys morale, kills teamwork and hurts the bottom line. And that’s just for starters

Reinventing Performance Management ‘We found that creating the ratings consumed close to 2 million hours a year’

‎Both articles are well worth reading and have great suggestions but there is always that tinge of over-consulting about them. Hundreds of interviews supported by the strategy work and a hefty spend on external marketing. One of my biggest challenges is the idea that you assess the people in your team about what you would ‘do with them’. e.g. would you work with them?, should they be promoted right now? do I like them on my team? Whilst I like the notion, can you remove enough of the politics and the objectivity to make that fair? Or do you risk removing some diversity; I’ve worked with a lot of people I’ve struggled with and haven’t seen their value. In another project they’ve been reported as superstars. Is their new manager wrong or am I wrong? Or is there something in the middle?

To get to that middle, you have to align the different views. Create a way to calibrate the decision making and recognise the range of personalities, skills and approaches. That process needs some rigour and thought or alternatively, you have to have a very homogenised management team (very not 2017).

But if you only have 10 seconds so here is a nice simple one based on my experience.

Magic circle

‎1) Charisma – not just extroverts!, what does the person do to a conversation, what do they do to a room? Do you get a sense of enthusiasm or wonder from them? Do you learn anything?

‎2) Smarts – not just intelligence!, what do they know, do they have connections and ways to use them, do they have a massive brain? Are they devoted to a particular subject and just love it? Is there something clever in what the say?

‎3) Hard working – not just the hours! How much do they care, work hard for their time, do the extra?

To tread water, you need to be good at one. To be really good, you need two. To be remarkable, you need all three. There are very, very few people who are great at all three. The most charismatic people are not typically the hardest workers, the really smart/really hard working people don’t often have loads of charisma.

So, think about your team in the context of the above. Think about yourself, if you are all three please give me a phone and offer me a job.

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