Four steps to unleash potential: hope and inspiration from Marlon Parker

The founder of RLabs, Marlon Parker, wants you to unleash the potential of your employees.

There was no shortage of energy and inspiration at the HR Indaba on 4 October, particularly during Marlon Parker’s presentation “Want to unlock potential? Start with hope!” He encouraged all HR professionals to look at their people and help them achieve what they are truly capable of through four steps.

Step 1: See potential
Marlon said you need to start by looking at your organisation and its staff. “What do you see? Look at people from a possibility point of view. Potential is unrealised possibility. You have to be able to see potential, even when nothing is visible.”

At RLabs, Marlon’s non-profit organisation that helps youngsters from all walks of life develop ICT skills and build bright futures, the requirements, he says, are only that when you enter the premises you must be smiling, and whatever you learn, you must do something good with it. Simply by seeing potential and activating hope, amazing things can be achieved.

Step 2: Position potential
Marlon believes that if people realise the hope inside of them, their potential will break through. Applied practically, Marlon suggested identifying employees or team members who are optimistic. “Once you see their potential, position it – allow the person to pursue their hope, allow their capabilities to come through. When you allow people to pursue their potential, it unlocks capability,” he said. 

Step 3: Enable potential
Allow the individuals to achieve their potential with the support and guidance they need. Sometimes, Marlon said, the passion someone has is not aligned to their work, but it is worth allowing them to explore opportunities linked to their passion to see what they are capable of. “The biggest opportunities on Earth come from allowing people to operate within their passion to come up with new innovations,” he said. 

Step 4: Make hope contagious
“If hope is not shared, it’s not real hope,” said Marlon. He used RLabs as an example once more. The organisation was started in a room in the Cape Flats and has grown to impact the lives of more than 10 million people across 23 countries. 

When asked how to help people find their purpose, Marlon said it is when they do something that is bigger than themselves. “When they do something for someone else and expect nothing in return, their passion becomes clear,” he explained. He said a company’s values also have a role to play in attracting people who have a purpose. “If your values are just about profit, you will attract people who are only interested in the transactional aspects. But if you focus on profit and purpose, you shift the mindsets of people,” said Marlon.

He concluded by reminding the audience that all four steps are linked to hope, which is a catalyst of potential, and reiterated his opening line: “Hope means certainty today and an expectation in tomorrow.”