Making the most of your employees’ skills
Every team member has something to contribute. From the most senior position to the newest hourly-wage employee, each person has a unique set of skills that can be used to enhance your business.
Properly using these skills, however, can be a significant challenge. If you are going to get the most productivity and the best results, maximizing employee skill sets is crucial. With these simple tips, you’ll have a clear roadmap to maximizing the full skill set of all your employees.
What do we mean by maximizing skill sets?
Find out what your workers can do outside of their regular job responsibilities. For example, maybe a new server is taking classes in marketing—you could ask her to help with the promotion of your next in-house event. Maybe a new store clerk is experienced in web design—he could give input to help improve your existing website. These are just a few examples of the potentially limitless opportunities to maximize employee skills.
The first step: identify skills
You can’t maximize your employees’ skills unless you know what skills they have. If you have a small staff, getting to know your team members through day-to-day interactions could help. If you’re more of a process-driven owner or manager, a simple questionnaire about their skills could help you discover how people might help your business. These are good options to start working on now, not only to get ahead of identifying employee opportunities, but as a fun exercise to stay engaged with your staff.
Encourage “horizontal” work
Having employees skilled in a specific job is useful for overall efficiency and speed, but allowing employees to work “horizontally,” as in moving from one in-house task to another, can be extremely useful as well. You certainly don’t want employees abandoning one area for another, but establishing a culture where people are encouraged to cross train and perform many different tasks will allow you to see where certain employees are best suited. It also helps keep employees from getting bored, a common problem that we’ll talk about in a minute.
Certain jobs in your business might need to be filled by specifically-educated individuals, especially any position that involves safety and security. However, to maximize employee skills, you may consider rotating positions, allowing employees to work in a variety of roles. This encourages horizontal work, and allows employees to see the business from different perspectives, which can positively impact how team members work together.
People will rarely use their skills if they fear being constantly corrected, adjusted and micromanaged. By reducing micromanagement, people are encouraged to fully use their skills and develop into vibrant, reliable, confident employees who are ready to use any and all of their skills to improve your business.
Micromanaging can be hard to overcome; in fact, it’s rare that managers actually think they are micromanaging. But if you find yourself constantly looking over people’s work and making slight (insignificant?) corrections, or trying to make employees do things “your way” (when their way is accomplishing the goal), you’re probably micromanaging. It may be well intentioned, but you’re sapping your employees’ motivation, reducing the chances that they will actually use their skills to your advantage.
Give people challenges to overcome
A bored team member is an unproductive employee. In many cases, this boredom comes from not being challenged in their work. You can maximize their skills by giving them new goals or greater responsibility as they develop and gain experience. This can include overseeing projects, leading small groups or taking on more important or complex responsibilities.
Maximizing employee skills during the COVID-19 crisis
At a time when many businesses are slowing down, the concept of “maximizing employee skills” can seem pretty low on your priority list. But it still can (and should) be done. During this temporary crisis, you can use employee skills in many ways, starting with overall communication. For example, if you find an employee skilled in writing, they can help you communicate with customers so everyone stays informed on hours, current operations, available products and services.
Use these simple strategies and you’ll be better equipped to fully maximize your employees skills. With research, encouragement and little training in different areas of your business, you’ll get the most out of your workers!
About the AuthorMore Content by Tom Quinn