There are hidden talents all around us. This includes our organizations. Team members have skillsets beyond those evident in their current roles. How do we find out what those talents are? How do we make note of them? How do we ensure we give internal folks an opportunity to use those talents instead of looking externally? Those are some of the challenges organizations face when trying to match talents and skills to ever evolving needs.
Recognizing and cataloguing the skills in a workforce can be a daunting task. It reminds me a little of shopping for craft supplies. I like to think I’m a good at securing good deals. From sales to thrifting to repurposing – I fancy myself proficient to exceeds expectations. I have grand ideas for what to work on next and plenty of supplies to make it happen. I then store those supplies away for “when I have time” and quickly forget about most things I bought! By the time I’m ready to work on a project, I have forgotten what supplies I have and instead of looking through my stash, I go out to purchase more!
This happens in our workplace too. During the recruiting and selection process, we (presumably) get to know candidates and delve into their skillsets and talents. While impossible to learn everything during an interview, we strive to learn all we can about the individual, and whether they are a match for our culture. We may even take notes throughout this process. Once onboarding is complete, the conversation is stored away, and many times, never revisited again. When a need comes up, leaders tend to look to external sources first even though “research shows that external hires take longer to adapt to organizational culture and have higher rates of attrition often because they aren’t as tuned in to company norms and culture.”
So how do we improve this? The same way I can improve the use of my stash: pay attention and put items to use. And just like crafting, let the creativity flow beyond the obvious. What I mean is, we can engage team members to use their talents, even if the talents are not specific to their role but would be a benefit to the organization, and enjoyable to the worker.
I absolutely 💗the example from a recent Ask A Manager post where an employee crochets blankets for others to use. “The director had started the whole thing years and years ago when he’d noticed her crocheting, was fascinated, and asked if she’d mind taking on a special project. She said okay, but she wasn’t providing the yarn, he said that’s fine, and had it written into the budget.”
Capture skills information by individual – does your payroll or HCM platform have a place to capture skills? If not, can a miscellaneous field be used for this purpose? Even a spreadsheet can be created for this
Party planning – is there someone who likes to take the lead in celebrations on their own? Ask them (with appropriate guidelines and supervision) to lead organizing the holiday party
Milestone/Celebration greeting cards – for the person who enjoys ensuring folks get milestone greeting cards, allow them to create or circulate them
Volunteering – does leadership want more community presence but you do not have the time to develop a program or do research? Partner with someone who already enjoys volunteering or at least, ask for their thoughts
Most of the examples above are not work task related but can make a difference about how someone feels about their workplace.
“With so much change and uncertainty affecting workplaces globally, it can be easy to forget that employees are at the center of any organization’s success. And what those employees feel – about the companies they work for, their leaders, their teams, and themselves – ultimately provides the fuel for high performance.”*
As for my craft supply stash, I did put it to good use this year. Checkout my ornaments page here. Comment below to be entered to win one!
What are some other ways we can capture and utilize hidden talents at work?