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We Barely Use Employees' Skills

All I hear is skill development, yet we don't even tap into the existing skills of our employees. We use maybe 10% of a person's skills.

Ask any boss or leader these three questions:

  • What are your team members' talents?

  • What skills do they have?

  • What do they do every day? Those small actions that you can learn more about their skills and talent?

Talent is more challenging to pick up on, so I am not even going there. Skills are easy because they are visible, yet managers and leaders can barely list any that are not directly related to the job.

What does it mean for the individual? Disengagement, unfulfillment, job-hopping, boredom, and the feeling of uselessness. Imagine having a car with a speed 300, but you only drive it a maximum of 30 km/h. What is the point of having that car? Not much; have a horse instead.

I have watched employees constantly trying to offer their skills on a silver platter by asking for promotions, being involved in projects, and stepping into situations to solve problems, only to be told to mind their own business or that they are still not ready for the next role.

Make no mistakes, asking for a promotion is a form of offering one's skills, yet when it comes to younger generations, we interpret it as being in a hurry and impatient.

People are desperately trying to tell us that they can do more, and we brush them aside, telling them to stick to their roles. At the same time, we want to build skills and complain about the lack of innovation, empowerment, and change in organisations.

Skill development is important, but it must start with taking stock of the existing skills and seeing how those can be leveraged and utilised within the organisation.

I will never forget the story of our hotel receptionist. We were training her to be a reservation agent and supervisor, etc., only for me to find out two years later that she had fantastic cake-making skills and was doing her little business on the side.

Had we known this, we would have transferred her to our pastry department and invested in her development. That girl had raw talent and skill, and nobody knew about it. We could have easily sent her for competitions. Look at one of her cakes below. This is with no training, just her innate talent and skills in action.

Imagine what organisations could achieve if we looked at people outside of their job description.

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