How Your Firm can Fully Utilize the Talent of Your Employees

By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D.

Close to 35 percent of employees feel that their job does not make good use of their skills. When employees aren't fully using their abilities, they are:

- Unhappy;
- Less productive; and
- More likely to quit.

When employees are underutilized, organizations suffer because they are not maximizing the results they can obtain from them. Management often contributes to the problem by:

Hiring people who are either over or under-qualified
Failing to recognize the valuable skills their employees possess; and Pigeon-holing employees so that they are unable to demonstrate their ability to perform other work within the organization.

For example, many secretaries feel that once they are hired as a secretary they will always be a secretary. They are not given the opportunity to demonstrate their other abilities. Indeed, many secretaries possess management, financial, and sales skills which they are not given the opportunity to use on their jobs.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO FULLY UTILIZE THE TALENTS OF YOUR EMPLOYEES -

Find out Ahead of Time What Skills Employees Possess and Value

Interviewers need to probe for the full range of skills and abilities applicants possess. Instead of merely using a job description to develop interview questions, managers should ask general questions that address other skills the applicant may also have. For example, when interviewing someone for a secretarial position, in addition to asking about their experience with word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software, the interviewer should also ask questions such as:

 

  • Tell me about any leadership positions you have held both within an organization and outside of work.
     
  • What skills and abilities are you most proud of?
     
  • Tell me about any volunteer or community work you have performed which involved planning events, selling, or managing finances.

Interviewers should also probe the applicant's expectations by asking such questions as:

 

  • What type of work activities do you enjoy most?
     
  • What type of work activities don't you enjoy?
     
  • Complete the following statement, "I will be unhappy if I start working here and I don't have the opportunity to _________ ."

Encourage Employees to Stretch

The growth of an organization is related to the individual growth of all of its employees. Managers, therefore, need to encourage employees to seek opportunities to use more of their skills on the job.

Create Individual Development Plans

The skills of individuals are constantly changing and expanding. For example, the clerk hired a year ago may have recently self-taught themselves at home how to repair and network computers. Or a customer service representative may have served a year as the president of the local Parent-Teacher organization gaining valuable management skills. Ideally, organizations should be aware of these skill changes and provide opportunities for employees to use them on the job.

Enrich Jobs

Job enrichment is different than enlarging jobs by just providing more of the same work. Enrich jobs by providing employees with more responsibility and challenges.

CONCLUSION

Employees will be happier and more productive if they are given the opportunity to use their valued skills and abilities. Enabling them to fully utilize their skills also makes good business sense.


The Discovery Group provides research-generated insights to help our clients discover how to delight their employees and customers.

Contact Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D., "The Survey Doctor"
President THE DISCOVERY GROUP
9 Blair Circle Sharon, MA 02067
Voice - 781-784-4367 Fax - 781-784-6450
E-mail - BKatcher@DiscoverySurveys.com www.DiscoverySurveys.com
 

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