How to Aim Your Talent in the Right Direction

This article reveals seven ways you can help your personnel grow and become your “co-visionaries”.

Business talent in the spotlight

When businesses invest in their personnel, they’re taking a far-sighted view of success. Continually increasing the expertise of your staff can help your enterprise remain flexible, energized, and profitable.

By aiming their talents in the right direction you enable your employees to:

  • Turn their strongest aptitudes into their most valuable expertise
  • Understand cause-and-effect relationships in the business, and..
  • Learn to use highly effective performance-building techniques

In good, plentiful times, it may seem reasonable to “hire and forget” — either when gaining new employees or utilizing contract help. With this approach, you would hire or contract someone to fill a particular need, apply a dollop of orientation and maybe a dab of training, send them into action, and presto! Problem solved! Or is it?

Certainly, a short-term advantage of a “hire and forget” philosophy is that it’s a fairly fast and convenient way to plug a human being into a socket of temporary need. But with this perspective, you’re not considering the negative effects of high turnover.

When significant turnover or downsizing occurs, it means that many of the company’s intellectual assets — people with precious, even priceless knowledge and expertise — are simply walking out the door, perhaps never to return. Some organizations don’t recover from such losses, and suffer the painful consequences.

A More Proactive Approach

Rather than depending on assumptions about whether your labor supply will remain plentiful, you can adopt a more insightful position. You can realize that conditions in existence today can evaporate tomorrow.

You can also recognize that the invaluable assets you have in the form of personnel can best serve the company’s goals when their talents are nurtured. The key is to aim these talents along each individual’s greatest strengths, since these will provide the ultimate benefit to the company.

Indeed, assuming that your organization can survive and thrive without a program to bring out the best in its people can have long-term ripple effects. And personnel can include both regular employees and contract workers recruited to fill fluctuating needs.

Therefore, obtaining the payoff you desire from your people, products, and services may depend on considering the needs of the entire staffing picture.

Companies sometimes fret about whether to invest in training their personnel, since those people might later leave with their newly acquired skills. I heard Rick Barrera, author of Overpromise & Over deliver: The Secrets of Unshakable Customer Loyalty, propose the following rebuttal. He said:

“Some companies worry, ‘What if we train people, and they leave?’ The more important question should be, ‘What if we don’t train people and they stay?”

Here are options for encouraging the development of expertise in your organization:

  1. Career assessments to match people’s talents and greatest strengths with enterprise needs. These might be administered in-house or through outside consulting services.
  2. Formal instruction, such as through degree or certificate programs. These could be offered at local schools or through online learning venues.
  3. All forms of training, including classroom training, online learning, and self-paced tutorials. And although training is not a cure-all for every achievement deficit, when used correctly to impart missing knowledge, it’s an extremely powerful tool.
  4. On-the-job learning through workplace apprenticeships, opportunities for supervised practice, various types of work-study arrangements, and one-on-one mentoring.
  5. Team learning through problem-solving, researching industry trends and benchmarks, designing experiments, and related skill development. These learning experiences can extend from novice to advanced levels.
  6. Personnel cross-training and rotation of related job functions. Individual departments or work groups may take the lead on designing cross-learning opportunities, which also depend on good procedural documentation.
  7. Electronic support systems that help people perform various tasks on the job, and also provide just-in-time, context-specific instruction. These systems can reduce the need for extensive training by supplying task-level support.

Your personnel comprise your greatest intellectual assets, and you can nurture their strengths into potent specializations using a variety of learning resources and support systems. In this fashion, your staff can become a formidable force capable of catapulting your business far beyond your competition.

In conclusion, your staff will be much more productive and your customers more satisfied when you apply far-sighted personnel development instead of short-sighted luck.

About the Author

Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the author of the award-winning “Straight Talk on Boosting Business Performance” success program. She helps people “discover and recover” the profits their businesses may be losing daily through overlooked performance potential.

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