hidden talents

How to discover the hidden talents of your employees

I believe that everyone has the potential to be a superhero.  It’s just a matter of discovering your natural talents and abilities that currently lie hidden away.

You’ve seen the superhero films, where the seemingly average person starts to realise their superpowers. Mastering these new-found powers is never an easy journey (remember Uncle Ben? 🙁 ).  It’s one that requires support, nurturing and a good deal of practice. Only then do they finally reach superhero status!

Believe it or not, the notion of discovering our hidden superpowers or talents can be applied in the workplace. Take underperformance for instance. It’s a sad fact that employees who don’t deliver to expectations are often left to their own devices. Tackling the issue can be seen as too much of a time drain. Though in reality, ignoring the issue means wasting valuable resource.

So how can YOU help underperformers to help themselves?   

Start by applying a positive and inquiring mindset and you’ll move your underperformers from zero to hero in no time. Here’s where to start:

1. Explore what comes naturally

There are things we do, day in and day out that we just accept as being normal. We wrongly assume that everyone else can achieve the same, without effort or struggle. Rarely do we recognise that our natural abilities might actually be our superpowers.

Don’t let an underperforming employee dismiss their natural talents or claim that these are standard characteristics across the board.  You might hear assumption statements like:

I find this easy because it’s an easy task

It comes naturally to me because it’s only a simple piece of work

Anyone could do this!

Everybody does this!

When you hear your employee declaring any of these, challenge them immediately by asking “What might you be assuming about this?”

You’ll be helping your employee to gain new awareness and fresh insight into the strengths which make them truly unique.

2. Get to know them and their motivations

If your employee is underperforming, their lack of energy will be obvious. They’ll show no inclination to shine because they’re not engaged in tasks that motivate them. When there’s an opportunity for people to use their talents, they feel positively energised and want to excel.

The first step as a manager is to get to know your employee on a more personal level and help them locate the source of their motivation.

Is there a subject they love to talk about? 

What do they love to spend hours doing without any reward? 

When did they last lose track of time and what were they doing?  

Build rapport with your employee and gain their trust. You’ll then get a deeper understanding of what really makes them tick – in ALL areas of their life.

Patterns and clues will emerge which indicate where their passions and talents might be aligned. This is your cue to start exploring new and creative ways to bring these hidden talents and energy into the workplace.

3. Get the viewpoint of others

It’s our human nature to focus too much on weaknesses rather than the things that we do well. Your employee should be well aware of where their performance is lacking. So why not give them a boost as a welcome change!

Encourage them to explore exactly which strengths other people see in them. Friends, family and colleagues won’t be shy about sharing the skills and characteristics that shine through. This can be a surprising and invaluable perspective!

Guide your employee to gather feedback which focusses entirely on their strengths, with questions like:

What characteristics do you most admire in me?

What would you like to thank me for?

What makes me unique

What do I excel at?

Read more about removing the negative from your feedback in my blog.

Once your underperformer becomes aware of the strengths others see in them, help them to gain further momentum. Seek out all opportunities where they can be using these skills on a daily basis to help them reach their longer-term performance goals.

4. Profile their character strengths

If you hit a brick wall, then an assessment tool can often be a great starting point to get the ideas flowing. I tend to use the VIA Character Strengths Survey. It’s a scientifically validated and free assessment which identifies a person’s top character strengths.

With this information you can coach your employee to explore which of their top strengths they are already using regularly and which they rarely identify with.

How can they use them more?  

How can they maximise their top strengths to compensate for areas less developed areas?

Which character strengths should they be using less ?

Once you’ve helped your employee find their talents, don’t leave it there. If their strengths are misaligned with their role then consider how you can influence change.

Continue to coach them and track progress and make sure you celebrate their successes (as I’ve previously talked about HERE) as you watch them grow.

Tammy Windsor

Tammy is a professional coach, trained at post-graduate level and also holds Ph.D in Pharmacology. She spent 14 years in the pharmaceutical industry leading global clinical teams as well as supporting strategic and culture change across these organisations.

Tammy founded InnovaCoaching after seeing the significant and positive impact of change on individuals and organisations which coaching and mentoring provides,.

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