Five ways to find hidden skills in your team

Just because you hired them for one job, doesn’t mean your employees can only do one thing. Find out how to get the most from your employee’s hidden abilities.

Whether you think your workers are giving it their all, or if you assume they’re doing as little as possible, you might be ignoring hidden abilities in your team.

A Lee Hecht Harrison survey of US workers four 62% feel underutilized in their jobs, and it could be because they aren’t using all their skills – and that’s bad news for retention.

“The majority of workers believe that the skills they bring to the table are not being used to the fullest,” Lee Hecht Harrison global talent development leader Kristen Leverone said. “Employees who feel unchallenged or bored by their work are flight risks.  And given improving economic conditions, workers will begin exploring new career prospects if they don’t see opportunities to maximize their potential."

So how can you make sure you’re not missing something?

Ask the right questions
What do your workers do for fun? What did they minor in? What extra-curriculars did they do at college? These are the kind of questions that can get you a lot of information. The office worker who minored in math might be able to help when you’re compiling information for the annual report, while your assistant who worked for the college newspaper might be keen to pick up some of the writing work.

Request help
Does anyone have IT skills or experience party planning? Asking for help before hiring or contracting out can not only solve your problem, but save your department money. By sending out a group email or asking around the lunch room you may find the right person has been in the corner cubicle all along.

Give opportunities
It’s easy for people to get stuck in a rut, doing the same tasks on repeat. Try to shake things up by rotating tasks and roles. If someone different leads each meeting you might find a great public speaker, and your amateur graphic designer could just be waiting for the chance to show off their skills.

Take suggestions
A suggestion box might seem a little old school, but it can be a great way to source fresh ideas. You don’t know who has already solved your internet problems or which employee knows how to improve meeting efficiency. Reward and recognize good ideas, and get group input to improve on how they’re implemented.

Pay attention
Performance reviews, peer reviews and self-reporting can all guide you towards those hiding their talents under a bushel. Ask employees to rate their own performance, and to describe what areas they are especially interested in developing.

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