When you employ a new team member, you are looking for more than skills. You hope you will employ someone who is capable of growth and has the attitude and abilities that will be worth your investment. But how do you recognise and encourage that person?
Stop ‘looking’ for talented employees
Your team are the lifeblood of your business, and naturally, you want them to do well. Not just because the better they perform, the better your business will do, but also because we all like to think we are helping others. To make it even more complex, employees are not usually people you dislike or don’t care about. If they were, you probably wouldn’t have employed them in the first place. So, not only do you want them to succeed, but you also like them and want the best for them.
This can be a problem because it occasionally means we want an employee to succeed when they are not quite as invested or as talented as we thought.
One solution to this problem is to stop actively looking for the spark of talent in your employees. I am not suggesting you expect less or lower your standards, though. Instead of searching for talent, look for the tell-tale signs of an achiever and then create opportunities for success. Great employees will take up the challenge and prove they are worth investing in.
Talent in the workplace
There are some key traits that really ambitious and talented team members will display. These will usually include some of these:
- Understanding the needs of your customers and being focused on meeting them
- Helping others and collaborating well
- Positive outlook on their own work and the company culture
- A commitment to grow within the role
- The willingness to make decisions coupled with an understanding of when to seek help
- An entrepreneurial approach to problems which results in creative solutions
As well as these key signs, they will also have the more commonly expected traits of a good employee, such as:
- A strong work ethic
- Commitment to completing a task
- Punctuality, application to the role, appropriate performance
- The skills, experience and knowledge required to perform in their job
It is important not to mix up the basic good performance traits with the more unusual ones in the first list. There is a breakpoint here where an employee can have all the great aspects in the second list and be an excellent team member but still lack the ambition or drive to explore their career development more fully. That is not to say they are not great workers; in fact, the opposite is true - they are invaluable, loyal, reliable, and highly competent members of the team. We are not talking about the difference between good and bad here; we are just opening up opportunities to be exceptional for already good employees.
Encouraging talent to emerge and grow
One defining and universal trait of a really talented employee is the satisfaction they get from using their skills. In fact, one of the main reasons we see exceptional candidates leave an otherwise great role is because they feel underutilised and unchallenged by their current position. This leads to a downward spiral that creates job dissatisfaction. It is really important that all employees feel valued and appreciated, of course, but the ambitious and talented ones will also thrive on being given the opportunity to shine.
- Seek their input on their role and ask how they could improve it
- Offer the opportunity for training and other learning
- Under no circumstances micromanage, instead create a clear reporting structure
- Guide and manage based on a plan you created with the input of the employee
- Create a plan of career development goals with specific, measurable milestones that result in reward when achieved but not disappointment or blame if not.
- Feed back to them regularly and positively
- Talented employees will often shoulder more responsibility than they need to and will see failure when they don’t succeed fully. A no-blame culture is an absolute must to allow growth
- Provide opportunities for the employee to problem solve both in and outside their area of expertise
- Give responsibility where possible
- Praise success, and when things don’t go to plan, treat it as a development opportunity
- Mentor rather than coach the employee
If you give them the opportunity to succeed and then evaluate the results, you will be able to identify the real high performers when they rise to the challenge. Then you can focus on matching your business goals with the employees’ career and personal ones. Talented, ambitious and career-minded employees will thrive in this environment.
Sometimes though, even with the best support in the world, things just don’t work out, and you need to replace someone. When that happens, we are here to help.
Great employees start with a great recruitment process, so why not contact us? Let’s chat about how we can help.