The outside world generally knows more about your employees than you do. And realistically, there’s little surprise here. There often isn’t time to just sit and talk with employees during the day about anything other than work-related items, and there seems to be a manager-employee divide where many won’t cross that line and friend/follow each other on social channels. Yet these social channels are where so much of this expanded employee information is so readily available, like individual skills, abilities, interests and work experience.
This is a big obstacle in inspiring and engaging employees to perform at their best. Think about it: as the world moves faster and faster and requires greater performance from your employees in ever-changing roles and environments, how do you know what skills training to provide and who would be a better fit in a different role?
Our answer: an inventory of abilities.
Generally, we develop a clear understanding of what success attributes new employees bring to their workplace on their first day as it relates to performing the role they are hired for. But this is only a snapshot of what they can bring to the table. Each employee is equipped with a more robust set of skills, experiences, interests and core abilities. When you add these to the robust abilities of your existing teams, you gain the information you need to more wisely align, develop and promote employees as your world and workplace continue to evolve.
To most effectively tap into these previously unknown strengths and skills, help each employee create an inventory of abilities. This is best done through activities and assessment tools to help employees articulate their strengths and liabilities, interests, values, communication styles, favorite and least favorite aspects of their role, behavioral triggers and blind spots. When employees have a more complete understanding of their potential and their personal drivers, it helps managers see all they are capable of. Having an expanded awareness of who employees are also helps to see who they can become and how they may fit into a workplace that always needs new and different skills and abilities.
The inventory of abilities can help your organization inspire greater employee performance by greater understanding of each employee in three critical areas.
1. Alignment. Having a clear understanding of who an employee is, what they are capable of and what they are interested in doing helps improve role alignment. Employees who are well aligned to their roles feel more capable and competent which activates engagement; engagement is the driver of productivity, performance and retention. It is difficult to get A-level performance from someone who doesn’t have the ability or interest to do what the job requires.
2. Development. Upskilling or reskilling are new terms that are making their way around the workplace and refer to adding new skills or improving the skills employees have to accommodate the changes in both work and workplace. As required workplace skills and abilities change, do you know who on your team has the abilities to respond to the changes? Without this insight, you will only look to the outside talent pool to address performance needs instead of considering your existing and already familiar inside talent. This also adds time and additional resources to effectively onboard new talent, resources most organizations are already short on.
3. Advancement. Few organizations treat a promotion or advancement the way they do an initial job hire; it’s often not even considered to clearly define the expectations of the role and then assess a candidate’s behaviors, skills, education and experience as right for the role. Think about how many colleagues or employees you’ve known to be promoted even though they weren’t interested in or capable to perform what the next level required. By expanding what you know about each employee, you start to see the opportunities in employees that may not be on a linear trajectory but instead one that uses their abilities in a new and different way. For instance, an installer of a product may make a great customer service or project manager because they are intimate with the product, its applications and success attributes. Or a frontline employee may make a great company educator because of what they know and have experienced firsthand.
Each employee only brings a small portion of who they are to their current role. Help them expand what they know of themselves and learn alongside them so you can also better see who they can become as your work and workplaces changes.
Information is power. Make a point of gathering more information about your employees from your employees; they come with greater abilities and skills that you currently know or use. Without this information, you will not be prepared to properly upskill and respond quickly and effectively as work and the workplace change.
By Jay Forte
Consider reading How to Get The People Thing Right for Your Business