Plum Leadership Potential
Plum’s Leadership Potential rating describes an individual’s potential to both 1) emerge as a leader, and 2) be successful in leadership roles at higher levels in the hierarchy. It does this by assessing their personality, fluid intelligence, and social intelligence. These components are assessed by the Plum Discovery Survey and map to six unique dimensions (see below). In turn, these six dimensions feed into an overall Potential classification for each employee, which can be used to identify, develop, and build the internal pipeline of your company’s next leaders.
Leadership Potential Rating Classifications
The purpose of this tool is to identify those with high potential for leadership. For that reason, we use labels to help easily classify employees. The classifications were based on a global normative database of just under 300,000 Plum users. Each person’s Leadership Potential score is compared to this database of users and then classified accordingly. Any employee who scores in the lower 50th percentile is labeled as “low”. It is common to see the majority of employees fall within this grouping. We reserve the additional classifications to distinguish between the top 50%. The classification labels are provided below.
Those with exceptional and high ratings are more likely to:
- Have the capacity to reach and be effective in senior leadership positions.
- Perform well in positions with greater responsibility.
- Have the capacity for growth into a wide range of leadership roles.
- Reach the end destination quicker than someone who has lower leadership potential.
How to Use the Plum Leadership Potential Results
The Plum Leadership Potential assessment provides you with additional data to use in your decision-making process. Organizations may wish to use the insights during talent reviews, employee development planning, and company succession planning. We encourage organizations to use this information as one data point when evaluating employees. Other data that could be of interest may include:
- Supervisor nominations.
- Employee's expressed interest in leadership roles.
- Employee's aspirations for advancement within the company.
- Past performance.
What if Plum Contradicts Potential Ratings Collected from Other Channels, Such as Direct Feedback from the Manager?
If Plum’s Leadership Potential rating for an employee differs from the subjective rating applied by that employee’s manager, then that is great news. It means there is a starting point for the conversation about that employee’s potential.
If the manager rated an employee as high potential and the Plum rating was lower, explore that employee’s Plum Leadership Potential profile in more detail. Are there any important behaviors that the manager may have overlooked when making their judgement? Are there any behaviors the manager is considering that are not a part of the Plum Leadership Potential model? Consider which dimensions the employee scored lower in. Ask the manager to explain how the employee exhibits or does not exhibit certain behaviors. Is this a behavior that the employee can develop compensating strategies for? Will the organization support that development?
If the manager rated an employee as having lower potential but the Plum rating was higher, it is important to still look at these employees if possible as they may have been overlooked. Use the employees tab in the Plum Leadership Potential Cohort to surface talent that may not have been considered yet could be hidden gems. You may also want to consider these employees against other criteria, such performance, diverse talent lists, and/or managers’ potential ratings over time. Again, the Plum Leadership Potential profile can be used to explore specific dimensions and behaviors to dig into why the manager did not rate this person as high potential.
The main value of this is that it mitigates against bias that arises anytime human judgment is required as well as bias that may stem from internal processes, politics, people’s innate personalities, and what has happened in the past.
How Does This Work With the 9-Box Method?
A 9-box is a grid that plots an employee’s potential against their current/past contributions to the organization (performance). Potential is usually a subjective assessment provided by the employee’s manager using an internal definition of potential in the form of a rubric or checklist. Performance is usually based on the employee’s contribution in their current role based on role-specific key performance indicators/goals and may or may not be averaged over past years. Employees that have high potential and high performance, medium potential and high performance, and high potential and medium performance are often flagged as key talent to be discussed during calibration sessions.
The Plum Leadership Potential insights can be used to:
- Incorporate an objective data point to supplement the subjective manager ratings of leadership potential.
- Identify hidden gems or employees that may have been overlooked.
- Facilitate and encourage discussion during talent reviews/calibrations by exploring key behaviors of leadership potential.
- Surface opportunities for the development of compensating strategies related to the dimensions of leadership potential.
How Can I Use This With My HRMS?
Within each Plum Leadership Potential Cohort is an export button that downloads a .CSV file of all employees within that Cohort, along with their overall Leadership Potential rating, their rating on each of the six dimensions, and a link to their Leadership Potential profile page in Plum. This export can be used to:
- Add the Plum Leadership Potential data/profile link to the employee profile, individual development plan, 9-box, and/or succession planning modules in the HRMS.
- Supplement existing datafiles to support analyses and talent decisions offline.
How to Use the Plum Leadership Potential Results to Support, Develop, and Retain Potential Leaders
A mistake that can be made is confusing employee potential with employee readiness. Potential does not mean an employee is ready to step into a leadership role tomorrow. It is likely that many will need support and development in order to use their potential to become a great leader. While we strongly encourage development, it is important to differentiate where development efforts should be focused.
Development efforts should not be focused on ‘improving’ someone’s score on one of the Leadership Potential dimensions. This is because Plum Leadership Potential is measuring someone’s natural ability or tendencies and is tapping into more stable characteristics such as personality. Changing someone’s natural ability or personality is difficult, if sometimes near impossible, and so placing development effort on this will likely yield disappointing results. However, by becoming aware of a person’s natural ability you can focus development effort on helping them to utilize their strengths, or to help them to create compensatory strategies in areas they scored low in.
When it comes time for development, being aware of an area that does not come natural to a person can help them to:
- Better monitor their own behaviour
- Be conscious of leadership situations where they may be prone to miss an opportunity to exhibit positive leader behaviors
- Create and apply well-defined strategies to compensate for their natural tendencies
For example, a leader who is low in Empowerment may not naturally think about providing feedback on a regular basis to their subordinates or may overlook the positive effects of words of encouragement. This leader may benefit from reviewing their habits and building in structured feedback touchpoints at the end of meetings, scheduling weekly one on ones, or starting programs that recognize a team member doing great work each week. For some leaders, these things may be second nature or intuitive, whereas others may require more formal efforts to ensure these behaviors are consistently exhibited. These strategies will not change an individual’s natural baseline on this dimension, but it will help them grow and develop such that outwardly they are capable of showcasing strong leadership skills and are successful in their leadership role.