Employer Branding

Leveraging Hidden Employee Talents

In my last blog, I wrote about hidden employee talents, and how these talents, while seemingly unrelated to the employee’s job, may benefit him or her in unexpected ways. Hobbies or former careers such as music, dance, sports or photography will all teach discipline, persistence and determination in their own unique way, and the more dedicated and accomplished the participant, the more useful skills may transfer over to the workplace…as well as the more interest and attention they may receive around the office water cooler.

So now that you’ve done a mental inventory of your coworkers and pinpointed the artists and athletes, you may be able to recognize some of these familiar qualities in them. The next question is, how do you harness these qualities for the good of the office? Here are some ideas to make them benefit everyone.

Skills Assessments

Skills-based assessments can be an effective way of measuring employees’ knowledge, skills and abilities. Just because an employee was hired for one role doesn’t mean he or she may not be better suited for another. Cross-training and promoting from within are common in companies, but what may be less common is discovering that someone’s previous artistic or athletic endeavors make them a perfect match for a role they may not have even considered. Skills assessments can not only help employers measure employees’ competencies, but they can provide insight into employees’ strengths, weaknesses, and in what roles they may excel. Successful bands have leaders who book shows and plan set lists. Successful dance crews have leaders who choreograph shows. Winning sports teams have leaders who call plays. Can these leadership skills carry over to an office setting? An effective skills assessment test will be able to tell.

Training and Presentations

Employees who have spent time pursuing their passion often learn a number of business skills, even if they’re not aware of it. Sports teams, bands and dance troupes all function as small businesses, and participants act as salesmen, account managers, accountants, business developers, promoters, or a number of other duties necessary to go from “weekend hobbyist” to “semi-professional” or “full-timer.” These skills often overlap with those that may be valuable in an office setting. If one employee happens to stand out above the rest in a particular area at work, ask them to share their knowledge with the team in a training or presentation. In a process-driven environment, if an employee can share his or her knowledge with a group of coworkers and half the attendees can walk away with one new piece of information, the process will improve.

Ask for Advice

Even if an employee isn’t given the opportunity to share knowledge in a group setting, he or she can still serve as a resource to others – just ask! With the exception of the occasional introvert, most artists and athletes who have gained skills worth sharing at the office are used to working with others and have developed strong people skills. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and encourage others to do the same. Some say the reason performers step on stage and athletes step onto the field is they crave attention. While this may not apply to all performers and athletes, for those who do enjoy the attention, they will welcome the recognition of their achievements at the office and the opportunity to share their knowledge with coworkers.

Knowledge is a fascinating subject in that the intelligent can gain it from nearly any setting or activity. Any successful employer will always be looking to hire intelligent employees. Therefore, if A equals B and B equals C, and you work for a successful employer, we can determine that you probably have several intelligent coworkers who gained their knowledge not just from the office, but from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Don’t allow their talents to go to waste. It’s the employers who figure out how to bring hidden employee talents out into the open that will ultimately be the most successful.

By John Feldmann

John Feldmann is a Senior Communications Specialist for Insperity in Houston, TX. With over a decade of marketing and employment branding experience in the recruiting and human resources industries, John specializes in employment- and HR-related content development for a variety of media types in order to communicate Insperity's brand to both business professionals and job seekers. Follow John on X @John_Feldmann.