Return of the bollock (for one day only)
“Unlocking potential” must be right up there with “people are our greatest asset”, “the war for talent” and “employer branding” as one of the largest pieces of yawny bollocks spouted in the world of business. The words sound great, like “eat as much as you can” but the reality is always a somewhat less appealing glutenous mass and generally ends up as a pile of shit.
What do we mean by “unlocking potential”? In most companies, I would hazard a guess that they mean “make you work better/harder” or at best perhaps “move you to another role where you can do less damage”. Is that really about potential? I daren’t put a number on the emails that arrive in my inbox informing me how this software or that training can help “unlock the potential of your workforce”. Type it into Google and you get over 14 million results!
The total misnomer here is that by saying you are going to unlock someone’s potential, you are first and foremost saying that they haven’t done so already which you don’t know until you try to unlock it. So how can you say in advance that you can when maybe the potential is as free and running naked through the streets? Aha, I can hear the consultants say, but people have unending potential. In which case, surely you have never truly unlocked it? Either way it makes no sense.
This is the kind of circular argument that Freudians use, “You are in love with your mother” they say, “Err….no I’m not, she’s nice and all that…but…..ya’know…..” I reply, “”Ahhh, but then you are repressed…”
If you want to see people who are going anywhere near “unlocking potential” go and see teachers working with kids with special educational needs, go and see the supported workers helping alienated children and youths integrate back with society, go and see the coaches working with disabled sports people. These are people who are truly helping people to go places that they never dared dream was possible.
Unlocking potential in the work place? You try to unlock my potential mate and you’ll get more than you expect!