July 20, 2009

The Workplace Has Talent

The world is "a buzz" at Britain's Got Talent and now America's Got Talent TV shows. What I find interesting is that there is such a diversity of talent and every talent is valued. It is not just a dance contest or a signing contest, every talent is welcome. No one is told, you are a great singer but we would like you to juggle instead. Or are asked, "Do you mind being a comedian today even though you are an excellent hip hop dancer?"


The workplace is full of diverse talent as well. But quite often people are not valued for their talents and are expected to take on tasks that do not fit their talents. What do you think happens to these employees when:

· Carl who loves working with people and having influence is expected to work alone all day crunching numbers?

· Danielle who likes to be in charge and create solutions to workplace challenges is told to follow someone else and complete only routine work without voicing an opinion?

· Sara who finds satisfaction in a cordial and harmonious environment is given a job that is competitive, non-team focused, and constantly changing?

· Larry who values precision, fact checking and working alone is expected to give regular extemporaneous speeches in front of large crowds as part of his job?


What probably happens is that each of these four employees feels disengaged and unproductive. We feel the most productive when we can use our natural talents and we feel valued when we are appreciated for those talents. I am not saying that every employee just gets to pick which tasks that they enjoy and leave the rest. Usually people have the ability to perform all of the tasks assigned to the job at least for a short duration. But if the main part of the job or the approach to that job is so restricting that our natural talents can not be utilized for the majority of the time, we become dissatisfied.


What happens when we are not valued for our talents? In a normal economy, we switch jobs or companies and find a place were our talents can be put to good use. But in a down economy there may not be another job out there or we fear if we leave a secure position, we could be downsized. So you may have quite a few employees in your workplace who not only feel as if their talents are not appreciated, they also are prisoners. They stay because they have to, but they don't like it.


So how do you ensure your workplace is full of engaged talented employees? Here are a few ideas:

· Conduct a Talent Search – You may have hidden talents in your employees that are not being utilized. Meet with each of your employees and ask them what they enjoy doing at work and when they feel the most satisfied. Take notes on each of your employees' talents and how they can utilize them.

· Analyze Jobs – Conduct a task analysis for each job. Should tasks be organized differently to take advantage of your employees' strengths? After your analysis, meet with your team to discuss proposed changes to get everyone's opinion.

· Evaluate your Work Climate – Is your work climate a place where everyone's talents are valued? Complete a review of your policies, procedures and work rules to determine if they are conducive to all employees regardless of their talents.


The workplace has talent…your workplace can be the best!

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