Talent segmentation helps organisations prioritise and target their people development and career management approaches. Common definitions for talent segments will support consistency across the sector in identification of talent for cross-sector mobility opportunities and leadership development opportunities.

The Talent Review Framework defines five talent segments for organisations to use in talent reviews. The approach provides organisations with an opportunity to map their talent assessments to these segments. Organisations will determine their own methods for ensuring transparency, consistency and fairness.

There are a range of other talent segmentation tools available, including the commonly used nine-box grid. Organisations can apply any segmentation approach that best meets their needs.

Figure 3. Indicative common nine-box grid

See following text version of this figure

Text version of Figure 3. Indicative common nine-box grid

  • Low performance and low potential: Strong concern
  • Low performance and medium potential: Inconsistent in a role
  • Low performance and high potential: Unrealised Potential
  • Medium performance and low potential: Solid Contributor
  • Medium performance and medium potential: Key Contributor
  • Medium performance and high potential: Emerging Potential
  • High performance and low potential: Proven Performer
  • High performance and medium potential: High Achiever
  • High performance and high potential: Top Talent

Regardless of the tool selected, all talent reviews and talent segmentation requires assessments of potential and performance.

What is potential?

Potential is an individual’s capacity to move into roles of greater complexity and scale, demonstrated through a combination of ability, openness and engagement.1

The assessment of an individual’s potential is a point in time assessment, it is not a destination. Individuals and leaders develop and change throughout their career. This means that an individual’s potential may change over time.

Components of potential include:

  • Ability: Cognitive capacity; emotional intelligence; learns and adapts quickly; leadership ability.
  • Openness: Motivation; openness to career progression; openness to leadership roles.
  • Engagement: Values driven; commitment.

1 Ability, Aspiration and Engagement based on Corporate Leadership Council, High Potential Employee Management Survey, 2005.

What is performance?

Performance is an individual’s demonstrated capability and level of achievement against responsibilities and objectives.

Performance assessment considers trends over the past six months or longer term, not only observations over the most recent months (dependent on an individual’s tenure in their current role). The assessment of an individual’s performance for a talent review is a point in time assessment, within the scope of the individual’s current role.

A mapping of the nine-box grid to this five-frame approach is in Figure 4 below for illustrative purposes. Further explanation on the characteristics and development focus of each of the five segments is in the tables below.

Figure 4. Mapping of five-frame approach to nine-box grid

See following text version of this figure

Text version of Figure 4. Mapping of five-frame approach to nine-box grid

  1. Future Leaders
  2. Key Contributors
  3. Unrealised Potential
  4. Performing Below Expectations
  5. Specialists and/or Subject Experts
  • Low performance and low potential: Performing Below Expectations
  • Low performance and medium potential: Unrealised Potential
  • Low performance and high potential: Unrealised Potential
  • Medium performance and low potential: Key Contributors
  • Medium performance and medium potential: Key Contributor
  • Medium performance and high potential: Future Leaders
  • High performance and low potential: Specialists and/or Subject Experts
  • High performance and medium potential: Future Leaders
  • High performance and high potential: Future Leaders

Future leaders

Element

Attributes

Performance

Exceptional performer on variety of complex assignments and settings

 Potential

Potential to take on an expanded role with greater scope and/or responsibility

Interest

Interested in pursuing larger or more complex roles at levels above

 Readiness

Assess readiness for increased role complexity or challenge depending on level of potential

Element

Suggested outcomes

Focus in the role

Take on stretch leadership assignments where available, exposure through executive sponsorship

Focus in development

Continue to build leadership capability in increasingly complex roles

Mobility

Consider increased role complexity through upwards move, or lateral move to gain critical experiences

Additional development opportunities

Consider this segment when selecting nominees for the NSW Public Sector Leadership Academy. The Leadership Academy definition of a high-potential leader should be applied to identify the most suitable candidates within this cohort (see Section 7 for more detail).

Specialists and/or subject experts

Element

Attributes

Performance

Strong performer, usually with high levels of valuable technical expertise

Potential

May be reaching limit of leadership or other ability or express limited aspiration for change in role

Interest

Interested in developing additional expert capabilities and pursuing career progression within specialty

Readiness

Consider readiness for cross-sector opportunities, progression in breadth of role or retention in current role

Element

Suggested outcomes

Focus in the role

Should be provided opportunities to continue to develop and use technical skills, coach others, develop mastery

Focus in development

Consolidate and continue to develop expertise and skills

Mobility

Consider lateral move across sector or progress to higher level expert role

Key contributors

Element

Attributes

Performance

Consistently meets performance expectations, occasionally exceeding expectations

Potential

Potential to take on some additional responsibilities at the same level

Interest

Open to pursue moderate levels of career progression

Readiness

Consider readiness for stretch assignments or lateral mobility

Element

Suggested outcomes

Focus in the role

Expose to new experiences and coaching and allow time to demonstrate potential for lateral move

Focus in development

Improve performance and develop strategic and leadership capabilities through stretch assignments

Mobility

Consider lateral move across sector

Unrealised potential

Element

Attributes

Performance

Inconsistent performance in the role. Could be due to being in a new role, the wrong role, a poorly defined role, or the result of changed expectations or skill gaps

Potential

Potential to perform in the role and take on an expanded role or additional responsibilities after performance development

Interest

Open to pursue some level of career progression

Readiness

Consider readiness for mobility to a more suitable role depending on level of potential

Element

Suggested outcomes

Focus in the role

Improve performance through coaching or mentoring

Focus in development

Improve performance to enable realisation of leadership potential

Mobility

Consider lateral move to a more suitable role

Performing below expectations

Element

Attributes

Performance

Consistently does not meet performance expectations

Potential

Limited potential to perform in the role

Interest

Limited openness to leadership or career progression

Readiness

Assess readiness or need for reallocation to a more suitable role

Element

Suggested outcomes

Focus in the role

Coaching or mentoring to significantly improve performance

Focus in development

Improve performance

Mobility

Consider lateral or downwards move to reallocate to a more suitable role