3 minute read – Posted by – May 3, 2018

How can leaders tap into the full potential of their employees?

The following HRM Canada article How to Tap Into Their Potential reveals an alternative explanation to the question Are Your Workers Underutilized? and it might be the secret to supercharging teams.

Overworked, without recognition and underpaid to boot. This is a common complaint by employees and a reason that many believe their teams are unhappy.

“85% of workers feel they could be more efficient at work, but because of skill underutilization, do not live up to their full potential.” —HRM Canada

In 2015, HRM Canada reported that around $23,600 worth of productivity per employee is lost annually as a result of underutilization.

So how can leaders tap into the full potential of their employees?

Know what your team is capable of

If a manager doesn’t know about an employee’s full range of skills, how can you expect their team to be fully utilized? When there’s a large talent gap that’s not being bridged, employees are unhappy and leaders scratching their heads.

“It’s about being brave enough to ask about their skills.” —Cameron Judson, CEO of Chandler Macleod

The best recommendation is for more frequent manager and employees 1-on-1s. Early on, the aim is to discover what different employees are able to contribute to the team. Not all skills can be utilized all the time, but for managers, it makes planning and strategy much easier by knowing what’s possible.

Encourage a supportive work culture

Sometimes employees won’t be forthcoming with their strengths or haven’t realized where their innate abilities lie.

“Create a culture of flexibility and support that allows employees to vocalize ideas and showcase their qualifications.” —HRM Canada

One tactic is to encourage employees to take the lead in the process of creating plans and objectives. It’s easy for management and leadership to get into the habit of delegating tasks “down the chain” rather than trusting employees to create and execute plans themselves.

Not only are employees more likely to be bought into the solution, but likely to create a solution that aligns with their underutilized skills and beliefs the most closely.

So here’s my challenge to all the managers and people leaders out there. Next time you sense an unhappy, unengaged employee. Ask them this: What are we not seeing? What hidden talent are we not tapping into? It only takes one question to maximize potential.

Originally published on the SHRM Blog

Wendy Pat Fong

Wendy is Chief of Staff at 7Geese. She can be reached at wendy@7geese.com.