The chances are very good if you work with more than two office staffers your co-workers have hidden talents about which you know nothing. Mining your staff to discover unrecognized assets is one of the most interesting and potentially rewarding exercises any manager can undertake. Many staff members have secret strengths that, properly applied, can be extremely valuable to a company. Your best corporate agent might also be a terrific public speaker. Your cruise specialist might be a real social magnet, with dozens of community contacts. Your receptionist might be an exceptional writer. That new agent you just hired right out of college might know more about social media than most writers of marketing columns.
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The first step is to discover those hidden talents. Too often managers hire a staffer, put them in a slot and there they stay. Make sure to engage your staff in conversation about extra-curricular activities. Inquire about what they hope to accomplish long term and what they enjoy best about their jobs. Encourage employees to come to you with ideas for expanding their role in the company. Discovering people’s motivations, aspirations and avocations is the first step to uncovering their real talents. Ask staff members about their hobbies. If you have a photographer on board in your office, perhaps some of their work could be used in company newsletters or on your website. A staff member with a flair for graphic arts can assist with advertising layout and new marketing collateral.
Once an employee reveals an aptitude for something outside of their normal job description, it is worthwhile creating room for them to expand their role within the organization. Flexibility in job descriptions can allow for productive use of slower office times with some experimentation and brain-storming. A good manager will work with their staff to develop aptitude. That receptionist could be penning an article for your newsletter instead of reading the newspaper during slow hours. Properly encouraged, the new agent with a talent for social media could help the less computer savvy members of the staff better understand what all the fuss is about with Facebook. The cruise specialist with the social contacts could be working with your corporate agent to arrange some speaking opportunities around town.
People gravitate to what they do best, and appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate their talent. Managers are smart to give them that chance. As an employee’s hidden talents are uncovered and allowed to develop, enthusiasm and motivation can flourish. In addition, people are more productive when they are using their talent to the greatest degree possible. When staff feel as though they are contributing in a more significant way to an organization and those contributions are being recognized, their general attitude for their work life is heightened and their willingness to contribute even more is enhanced. Employee retention and job satisfaction go hand-in-hand.