Guest Author - Dianne Walker
Everyone within the organization has something of value to contribute, no matter how annoying they may be. It is often up to the leader to determine that value and help their employee realize their potential. Sometimes even the employee is unaware of their hidden skills and talents which would make them a valued employee. It may take a little digging, but it’s important to identify those skills to make sure that the right employees are “on the bus.” Here are some questions to use in order to find value within each employee.
Are there any situations in which this person has lit up and appeared motivated? Do you have an employee who generally appears disengaged? Have you ever noticed there were certain projects that seem to perk them up? Are there any tasks which they always seem to get done timely while lagging on others? Identify the projects and tasks that seem to spark an true interest. This may or may not include tasks they excel at - just because they are good at it does not mean they are interested.
What worthwhile contributions have they made to the organization? Look back over their history and find contributions, no matter how small. It can be something as simple as instituting a new filing system.
Once you have identified areas of interest and past contributions, identify the knowledge, strengths and abilities (KSA’s) the employee has exhibited as a result of their contribution. You will find once you have identified their contributions, you will see areas in which they excel. For example, you may discover that not only did they contribute, but they also coordinated the entire project, found bids for the work – a wide range of skills that you may not have noticed.
Once you have identified the areas where the employee excels, what should you do? Do you have an obligation to the employee, or the company, to act? As a leader, you absolutely do. The problem is what action should you take? Do you do nothing and stay out of their way to give them the opportunity to shine? Do you jump right in with assistance? Your action actually depends on the employee.
Initially, you may want to find opportunities for the employee to contribute within those areas. The additional support can help them to gain confidence and hopefully branch out into other areas to increase their knowledge and skills. After offering assistance, step back and let the employee take over. Do they continue to look for opportunities to shine or do they step back into their shell? It will depend on the employee.
It is very easy to dismiss an employee as lazy or difficult. Labeling an employee as lazy allows supervisors to take the easy way out instead of actively working on employee development. Imagine, however, finding and recognizing the value each member of your team brings to the table. The benefit would include increased self-esteem and confidence. This will, in turn, increase productivity and loyalty to the organization.