The 'time-bomb issue' within Australian companies

by HCA10 Dec 2012

Some Australian companies are at risk of stunting their growth prospects because they are more concerned with how their employees are performing right now versus what they might be able to deliver into the future.

That’s according to a just-released research report that looks at best practice in talent management in Australia’s corporate sector. A pervasive ‘here and now’ attitude towards employee performance is at odds with talk of innovation and plans for strategic growth.

The report, Best Practice In Practice Talent Management was jointly produced by Melbourne-based workplace psychology company, Psylutions, and Curve Group, a business improvement consulting firm. When it comes to employee selection and development, an overreliance on an employee’s current ability to perform – versus a lack of attention given to their growth potential – is an insidious issue. It might not conceivably show up until further down the track, and by that stage, it may well have become a major problem, Psylutions director and consulting psychologist, Prue Laurence, said.

“Imagine that a company executes its growth plans only to find it hasn’t got the talent required to keep up with the changing demands of the business. Then there is the possibility some companies haven’t got the right staff in place in the first instance to be able to implement those growth plans,” Laurence said. The issue might have major implications, especially if they operate in industries where the war for talent is hot. “You could say this situation represents a possible time-bomb issue in some organisations,” she added.

According to Laurence, large companies and organisations in Australia invest considerable time and effort in assessing the suitability of graduate candidates before making any hiring decisions. The problems arise when people are in the system and operating at management level, and the emphasis swings from potential to current-day performance.

Where to from here?

Laurence said companies should be spending at least 50% of their talent management efforts focusing on current performance, and 50% on their potential to lead, think and execute. From interviews to workplace simulations and psychometric tests, employees should be assessed for people leadership, task leadership and self-leadership skills.


  • by Prue Laurence 10/12/2012 4:16:19 PM

    Full white paper and summary report are available at

  • by Tony Griffiths 10/12/2012 4:22:52 PM

    Good information Pru and good timing given the preponderance of Performance Mapping sessions happening at this time of year.

  • by Erica Collins 10/12/2012 4:36:00 PM

    My experience is consistent with these findings. Whilst employers bemoan a lack of talent, they are not willing to accept candidates with demonstrated potential only past achievements. This increases the risk that the role will lack sufficient challenge and the successful candidate will outgrow the role sooner = disengagement on every level.

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