Five ways to tap into employees’ potential

Managers need to work harder to help all staff become high achievers, writes Roffey Park’s Gary Miles

Talent management – for many organisations and their senior managers – is about developing and harnessing the strengths of a select group of high-potential employees. But this attitude leaves them open to the risk of neglecting the vast potential that exists within many team members who each contribute in their own way to their companies’ success.

If you believe that talent actually exists in every corner of your workforce, then it is simply a case of releasing that potential – and often it’s individual managers who hold the key to unlocking it. But as a manager, how should you do this? What skills are required to ensure you are getting the best out of all your team members? Here are five top tips to remember:

Start with frontline staff

These crucial employees are the first point of contact for your customers; how you treat them will significantly affect how they in turn treat customers of your organisation’s products or services.

Know what makes your people tick

Different things motivate different individuals: no one is the same and a ‘one size fits all’ approach to talent development simply will not work. Really getting to grips with the interests, passions and concerns of each of your team members, and being authentic in dealing with each person so that they feel special, is crucial.

Many managers can find it difficult to show employees their appreciation. Our research at Roffey Park has consistently demonstrated a direct link between line managers and levels of employee engagement, so stepping outside your comfort zone and making sure your people know they are valued and recognised for their efforts will pay dividends.

Give regular, constructive feedback

If you want to ensure you get each member of your team contributing to the best of their abilities, develop your own capability to give regular constructive and developmental feedback. We have found from this year’s Management Agenda survey that all generations who work together in today’s organisations value praise and recognition – but none more so than the younger generation (also known as ‘Gen Y’). Neglect the praise quotient at your peril.

Help staff understand how they fit into the bigger picture

Appreciate that your people want to do meaningful work that serves a purpose, and to understand how what they do contributes to that wider purpose. Agreeing a shared vision for your teams and helping each individual to realise their own ambitions in the service of that vision is vital; aligning individual goals with corporate goals will give greater satisfaction to your workforce and bring long-lasting benefits to your organisation.

Collaborate across generations

We are now operating in a more sophisticated, more multicultural and more multigenerational workplace than ever before. Getting the best out of each person in your team will require you, as a manager, to be sensitive to and understanding of cross-cultural differences and bring together people in a four-generation workforce to collaborate effectively and learn from each other. Schemes such as reverse mentoring – where older employees gain new skills from their younger counterparts in areas such as technology and change management – will need to become the norm if we are truly to benefit from the diversity that we have in front of our noses.

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