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Performance and Potential Matrix

The placement of a staff member on the matrix is a matter of 'best fit' rather than 'perfect fit' or an absolute measurement. The Performance and Potential matrix is a guideline or framework to be used to direct or inform the Development Forum conversation, it is neither a rating scale nor a label.

The agreed performance rating will be used to plot the vertical axis of the matrix. The line manager will have to make a decision regarding the potential of the individual when plotting him/her on the horizontal axis of the matrix.

Research has identified three factors that directly correlate to high potential. It is the combination of these three that measures potential:


Potential relates to the ability of the employee to advance to a different or a more senior role or position at the University. Potential is measured by taking into account three factors: aspiration, engagement and ability, which has been defined herein.


An employee's ability consists of innate characteristics such as capacity to process complex ideas, to think broadly and quickly, to perceive and understand theirs and others' emotions and learn skills such as technical, functional and interpersonal skills. The ability component of potential highlights the core set of skills that an employee will need in his/her role and in a more senior role.


Aspiration refers to a staff member's expressed need to do better, or advance to a different or a more senior role or position at the University. While aspiration can slow down or speed up depending on the stage in a person's life, there should be a clear pattern and demonstration of desire, drive and passion to do well in a position and/or to move up in their career.


Engagement refers to the extent to which an employee commits to their role in the institution, their passion, eagerness to contribute, enthusiasm and involvement. An employee emotionally commits to his/her role when he/she derives pride, enjoyment, inspiration and meaning from their role in the institution and is passionate about it. Engagement drives the discretionary effort that employees invest in their work and the extent to which they intend to remain with the institution.

For a practical guide to using this rating scale, please consult Annexure D of the resource guide.

Page last updated: 31 May 2016