“The real difference between success and failure in a corporation can be very often traced to the question of how well the organization brings out the great energies and talents of its people.”
–Thomas J. Watson, Jr., businessman, political figure and philanthropist
Your Middle Tennessee company may do a great job hiring talented people. But finding the right people is only part of the human capital success equation. To truly get the most from your staff (and keep them working for you), they must be given opportunities to grow in the areas where they’re most talented.
Placing your staff in positions that leverage their natural strengths offers a multitude of benefits. In addition to making your organization more competitive, it increases employee engagement, fulfillment, retention and productivity.
The first step in the process? Figuring out what those’ hidden talents are! Unfortunately, though, your employees probably aren’t wearing signs around their necks that say “I’m great at documenting processes,” or “I’m working on the production line, but I’d do a much better job supervising it.”
So as a manager, it’s vital to look within individuals for hidden aptitudes – areas in which your people can naturally excel. What can you do to discover these talents? Try these ideas:
- Don’t just compliment; assess. When an employee does a great job, get specific with your praise. Pinpoint the strengths of his accomplishment and ask him to share his process. Your discussion may lead to insights about hidden abilities that can be transferred to new job tasks.
- Regularly challenge your employees. Give team members diverse projects that require them to stretch their abilities and think outside the box. Put your team members in novel work situations to tap unique thought patterns and creative energies. When your staff uses different ways of thinking to solve problems, they may uncover new strengths in the process.
- Observe. Keep an eye on your employees. When new opportunities arise, who is the first to jump at them? People are drawn to areas in which they excel. By simply observing the kinds of responsibilities individuals are drawn to, you can learn even more about where their talents lie.
- Mentor. Be more than just a manager to your employees. Be a mentor – the individual employees can go to for advice, motivation and praise. Keep pushing them to learn and try new things that may reveal previously untapped abilities.
- Analyze how employees think – not just what they do. When conducting performance reviews, you should rightly focus on whether or not an employee has hit his goals. But don’t stop there. Describe and document the habits of mind that contribute to each employee’s success. Then, during the next review, articulate these observations and discuss them with the employee. Doing so will help you (and your employee) identify additional projects that take advantage of his natural way of thinking.
As you uncover each individual’s hidden strengths, find ways to leverage them at work. Provide opportunities for your staff to develop skills in areas where they excel. Strategically align employees with projects and tasks that bring out the best in them. Do this, and you’ll create a high-performing team that stays working for you.