Find the talents hidden among employees

Major media companies offered competing deals last week to a man who days earlier was homeless. Ted Williams’s amazing baritone caught worldwide attention after a multimedia producer for The Columbus Dispatch posted video of him online.

The producer had the video for five weeks before sharing it during a slow news week, according to CNN. Now millions of people have heard Williams, through the original video and appearances on radio and television.

Imagine what talents you might be overlooking within your own workplace. If you rely only on the information you gather during job interviews, you may have a vast pool of untapped talent among your staff. Learn more about their capabilities through these practices:

  • Enhance the directory. With a traditional listing of name, title and phone number, teammates may never know that Sheila speaks Vietnamese or that the accounts payable clerk is studying Web design. Build an online directory that includes people’s skills, interests and previous projects. Include photos too, to encourage people to chat when they see each other around the office. That will build collaboration among teams.
  • Review résumés. If you have inherited an existing team, you may know only a small sliver of those people’s skills. Review the résumés in their personnel files or, even better, ask them to submit updated résumés so that you can better understand all their abilities.
  • Delegate more. Talk with team members about upcoming assignments and tasks in your job description that they could handle well. Bob may be not only a solid salesperson but also a wiz at creating PowerPoint slides.
  • Observe and share. Think about the ways each employee excels. You might first consider a graphic artist as only a creative type but upon further reflection note that she also has excellent project management skills. Complimenting people on their abilities will lead them to recognize their own strengths and to consider broader opportunities to contribute to your organization.

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