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4 Strategies to identify your employees' hidden potential

Development & Performance

4 Strategies to identify your employees' hidden potential

A good swimmer is not necessarily a good sprinter

In every organisation you are likely to spot shining stars – those employees with all the right indicators of potential. Yet sometimes these employees may not be meeting your expectations in terms of performance.

We’ve listed four ways to find the hidden potential of your employees and develop their talents. We’ve also included actionable tips for each. The end result? Higher performance.

1. Match the talent to the role

A good swimmer is not necessarily a good sprinter

Talent for one function does not guarantee success in another. A classic example of this is when an employee seems to exhibit potential for a managerial role in the company, but when given the opportunity, falls short of delivering. Being a successful manager requires very different skills: suddenly employees must learn to delegate, supervise others and provide pertinent feedback.

Measure an employee’s talent in an objective way, and align results to future expectations. Identifying an employee’s potential by assessing his or her track record in the current role will not give you the whole picture.

2. Develop, develop, develop

Developing strength out of weakness

With proper direction and a strong emphasis on development, an employee’s potential can gain momentum. Sometimes one personality trait can hinder performance in the role. As an example, he or she may be a strong delegator but may have trouble giving feedback to subordinates.

Development initiatives should be a primary focus in your organisation, ensuring that your human capital is growing in a direction that is aligned to your strategic goals.

Focus on developing employee strengths, but also pay attention to weaknesses. All people have areas of talent and areas of limitation – what is important is the ability to leverage strengths to optimise performance.

3. Focus on employee retention

Align talent to culture

Your company’s talent map should align to your corporate culture. A highly procedural environment may thwart an innovative mind; initially, you may think that these employees will adapt but ultimately it remains an unhappy marriage – frustrating for the person and frustrating for the organisation. If you can’t connect them with your culture, it is unlikely that talent will ever reach maturity.

Research your employees’ talent profile and motivations. Determine where they fit in with the culture of your organisation, keeping in mind that some differentiation is desirable but a complete mismatch may spell trouble.

4. Motivate your high potentials

No seed grows without water

Do you motivate your talented employees so they can reach their full potential? The working environment will likely be an inhibiting factor if the employee does not receive enough feedback or if development and training programmes receive insufficient follow-up.

Monitor talent and management development programmes on a daily basis and involve line management in their implementation. Only with constant attention and support will your employees truly flourish. You could also consider coaching/mentoring programmes to foster employee buy-in and cooperation.


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