A Tale Of People And Aspirations!

A Tale Of People And Aspirations!

If you think about people in general, be it in a small team or a large organization; they get divided into two broad categories- those born for a particular role, and, those looking at ways to move out of the organization.



If you think about people in general, be it in a small team or a large organization; they get divided into two broad categories- those born for a particular role, and, those looking at ways to move out of the organization. So, while there is that employee who is truly in love with his job, there is also another, possibly in the same team, for whom the organization hardly matters.

As an employer, the quintessential question is therefore how to get the right jobs for the right people at the right time to ensure that there is some semblance in your own life, and at the same time, ensure that they are leading a fulfilling life as well. While there is no immediate outward solution, since, what is inspiring to one employee may not be very stimulating to the other. For instance, someone might look perfect on paper for a particular position, but, performing the role on a daily basis causes him to flounder, rebel, or worse yet “quit the job”, but keep drawing a paycheck.

The Talent Engagement Matrix as has been shown is the best way to look at how well you are tapping into the passions and the potentials of your people. Of course, there are exceptions to this matrix, but, most of your people fall into one of the four categories.


As has been indicated in the simple 2×2 matrix, the “Potential” axis focuses on the skills, capabilities, and/or aptitude one has for a given task or role. The “Passion” axis addresses the energy and enthusiasm a person possesses for a particular position, team, or organization. You can assess individual employees from low to high (0 to 10) in both areas, and, then place the individual on the matrix. Depending on where someone falls on the Passion & Potential scales, he or she arguably resides in one of the four quadrants.

Quadrant I: Owner’s Kid (low passion/low potential)

It should not be presumed that all of the business owners’ children would fall into this category. This is a mere connotation to convey the idea of a son or daughter who inherits the family business, but, shows little passion for the organization and even less potential for the work. Perhaps a son inherits a construction business, but, would much rather programme a computer than swing a hammer. Over time, his lack of enthusiasm and potential for work becomes the very reason for a once well thought of home building company to lose its lustre, and, report financial losses along the way. Owner’s Kids in organizations are often referred to as mis-hires. The fit for either the organization or the work is simply absent.

Quadrant II: Starving Artist (high passion/low potential) 

We are rather familiar with individuals who are passionate about a particular art form (painting, dance, sculpting, etc.); yet, no matter how strong the love, she is not very good at it. Following this passion will cause her to struggle to make a living. However, if her enthusiasm can be channelled into a different area, she may actually be unstoppable. The same goes for the “Starving Artists” in your organization. No matter how much they love the organization or their specific team, their performance consistently comes up short because they are not well suited for a particular role.

Quadrant III: Indifferent Prodigy (low passion/high potential)

These are people who are really talented, in fact amazingly talented, but maybe indifferent towards the organization or the team in which they are in. These are people who will sit by while other people struggle. While they have the ability to assist those who are underperforming, they simply do not even try to help. They may be competent to accept roles of higher responsibility, but choose not to do so. In a nutshell, they fail to bring a lot of enthusiasm to the work, and at times, get in the way of productivity.

Quadrant IV: Shooting Stars (high passion/high potential)

As the name suggests, these are the top performers, and, they possess the greatest capacity for continued success in the organization. They contribute every day, are often the source of the best ideas, and, are sought after by the other employees for counsel, feedback, and guidance.

So, the questions before you are: –

  • Where would you put your people on the matrix?
  • How well are you and your organization tapping into each employee’s unique passion and potential?
  • If people are not positioned for success, what can you do about it?


Here’s The Remedy!

Reinforce your Shooting Stars. Put programmes in place to develop them, ensure that they know they are valued, and challenge them with greater opportunities.

Reposition the Starving Artists since they have the passion that you want. They likely live the values of the organization but are not well positioned.  Give them an audition in another role and see if they can bloom.

Re-engage the Indifferent Prodigy since they can be difficult.  them. Give them another opportunity to see if their lack of involvement is a value misalignment or if they have simply had a bad boss or a bad experience that has calcified them. Talk straight to them about what you see in their behaviours and results. Let them know what they need to do to improve and create a plan together.

Release the Owner’s Kid, since this is your best option. Let him find a different organization where he can flourish. You will be happier in the long run and he will too.

Finally, there are some people who sit at the mid-point of both passion and potential. These employees come to work, do a good job, and call it a day. They are important and should not be overlooked. We can call them Solid Citizens. You should remediate them. Coach as needed and help them to continue to grow and develop.



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