Recognizing When an Employee Hasn’t Reached Their Full Potential

When it comes to leading people, you should never be satisfied with the status quo. Good managers are always pushing employees to get better at their jobs and grow into a bigger role.

Expecting the best from your staff isn’t just good for business. Your employees hope to look back at their careers years from now and see how far they’ve come. And they expect their employer to be an ally in their development.

This approach to employee management is especially important for the Millennial and Generation Z workforces. You can rest assured an employee who is 40+ years old has already mastered most the aspects of their job. But an employee in their 20s or early 30s likely has raw talent that can be molded through on-the-job experience.

It’s easy to see the strides a young employee makes after their first year or two with your organization. But on the other side of the coin, it can be difficult to see when they haven’t made the developments you hoped for when you hired them. Let’s look at some signs an employee hasn’t met their full potential.

The employee is failing to meet their goals

Let’s get this one out of the way early. An employee who isn’t achieving their individual goals isn’t just failing to meet their potential. They’re underperforming. If they can’t deliver the results expected of them today, how can they take on bigger challenges tomorrow?

That said, it’s always important to look at the big picture when reviewing an employee’s goals. If they met some objectives but not others, it could mean they gave their best effort but their goals were a tad ambitious. That can be a good thing, especially if they’re embracing the challenge.

It’s also worth considering why they came up short. Did their entire team fail to meet its objectives? Could additional resources, support, or direction have made a difference? Take everything into account before you take any drastic steps.

The employee is not stepping out of their comfort zone

It’s of course a good sign if an employee is meeting their goals with ease. That means they’ve figured out their job and can efficiently accomplish their tasks.

Now it’s on them to step up and take on more challenging projects. Every organization has work that is not assigned to anyone and you hope to see young employees take the initiative to do it.

An employee isn’t progressing if they’re not jumping at these opportunities. After they figure out how to efficiently get their tasks done, monitor how they spend the remainder of their workdays. If they have the capacity to do more, it’s worth having a conversation about being more proactive. Especially when it comes time to talk about their career growth.

The employee is not sharing ideas

Most new employees spend the first few months on the job absorbing information. They ask a lot of questions so they learn as much as possible about how the organization operates.

As they get comfortable, they should shift from asking questions to presenting ideas. After all, the longer someone has a job, the more they see how things can improve.

There are naturally different reasons employees keep their great ideas to themselves. Some people are introverted and don’t feel comfortable speaking up. Others, especially younger employees, might feel like it’s not their place to share ideas. However, the people your organization hires are likely not only capable, but also smart. Always encourage employees to share what is on their mind.

The employee is not growing professionally

The majority of professional development occurs through on-the-job experience. But employees should always seek out other ways to fill the gaps in their skill set.

In this day and age, there are countless ways to acquire knowledge and develop new skills. Make sure employees are always reading books, checking out websites, watching webinars, doing whatever necessary to learn more and prepare for the next step in their careers.

It also benefits your organization to assist with professional development. Management training, mentorship programs, and continuing education benefits are excellent ways to help employees grow and groom your next generation of leaders.

Evaluate progress with performance reviews

Recognizing when an employee hasn’t reached their full potential isn’t always black and white. Perhaps you have employees who made strides in some of the areas we covered in this article but not others. Or maybe someone has done good work but could do more.

Your organization can account for everything it values in employees with an effective performance review process. Using a solution like Reviewsnap, you can easily track the progress each employee makes toward their goals, as well as other competencies that demonstrate professional growth.

If you’re interested in learning more about conducting performance evaluations with Reviewsnap, schedule a live demo today