the core of performance

Siddharth Verma Siddharth Verma  | 

Only fifty percent of hires globally are the right hires, I read in a report a few years ago. This is the eventual experience, and undeniably the taste hiring left in the mouth. What were the determinant factors which lead to such an outcome, of what looked near perfect at the time of making the choice? Some of the immediate, visible enablers (or the otherwise) to reckon are

  • context or environment change
  • empowerment
  • incorrect or inadequate assessment
  • colleagues / bosses
  • clients

and the list can be endless. This analysis predominantly rests on the assumption that people carry a bit, or a lot of their past capabilities into the next assignment, and that it is a significant component of performance prediction. And in many cases, it does lead to expected or even better than expected outcome. Anybody’s guess if it doesn’t. Short of capabilities / instruments / tools to identify certainty of performance, the ‘digging in the past experiences’ as a method to predict performance has been one of the most popularly accepted and convenient mechanisms. The subjective question here, then, is that, is that all people carry? Are there more perspectives, more windows to peep in through? Are we missing out something under the routines and rituals of recruitments?

Until the utopian time that technology takes over the assessment of human capabilities, and deciphers the blue print of performance, let’s reflect on some timeless fundamentals.


Education, skills, technical competence, functional proficiency – uncovering these, traditionally, has consumed most of the mindshare in the evaluation process. Even testing has penetrated most in this direction. Deep diving here certainly brings a sense of assurance that the ‘task’ shall be delivered to a reasonable level of satisfaction. More quantifiable, and hence measurable, the skill and proficiency check is a necessary barrier to be crossed. And very useful in many cases. The timeshare weightage is disproportionately high, though, in comparison to some other close cousins.


Has the individual been a problem solver, calibrated a step further – has been an innovator, or an out of the box thinker? Fundamentally differs from the reference pool on the design of thinking?

Certainly, there is substance in this layer. And, in general, this is a potential constituent of performance across changing environments, and demanding situations. A critical and un-by-passable step in contemporary assessments. The ability to think on feet, unique, unprecedented dimensions of thinking, and alternative ways of doing, are critical factors of success today. Some of the psychometric instruments capture this aspect very well. And hence aid a step further on predicting potential performance.

Then? Are we headed in the right direction? Close to discovery? Is that enough?


Purpose, then, is the ultimate layer to uncover. Discover. Seemingly the least evolved thus far, and probably the most malnourished of the recruitment (assessment) conundrums. More often than not, the last recipient of mindshare and timeshare. Given due weightage, what can be difference in outcomes:

  • Longevity of relationship; if not, at least the quality of engagement
  • Growth of the individual, and the function he / she owns
  • Cultural impacts, like going beyond the call of duty, and higher ownership

Once the alignment of purpose happens, other blocks are likely to fall in place in due course of time. I do not second the importance of the skill and the method, but once the purpose is in place, the HOW is figured out, and the WHAT is matter of learning! Additionally, the flow of ‘purpose’ juice lends the ability to overcome the aforesaid workplace variables such as change of environment or empowerment; the toolkits are all around us.

Over the last couple of decades, especially, the methods of assessment and ways of recruiting have observably reflected a general decline in one single belief – that human beings can learn, and adapt, and are not mere extensions of their past.

Motivation is found, it is said when the purpose is discovered.

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