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Uncovering Hidden Talent: Leveraging Employees’ Transferable Skills

An often overlooked key to an organization’s success is its ability to identify transferable skills among its employees. Once identified, these skills can be nurtured and redeployed, improving several aspects of the business, including internal transfers and promotions, job postings, special projects, and employee retention.

Transferable skills can be broken down into three main categories: people skills, which include talents for teaching, coaching, supervising, and overall good communication; data skills, which include a knack for record keeping, researching, and translating and compiling data; and “thing”-related skills, such as being able to operate, assemble, and repair computers and other equipment.

So how do you go about uncovering and leveraging all this hidden talent within your organization? By following these five easy steps:

  1. Establish a project team and plan

    The first step is to establish a team consisting of respected employees who will promote the idea of identifying transferable skills. Then decide what data you want to collect based on the future needs of your business, establish a timeframe and methodology for collecting it, and determine which departments will need to be involved in the gathering, processing, and deciphering of the data.

  2. Communicate with your employees

    Communication is key to demonstrating your commitment to your hidden-talent/redeployment initiative. Create a cascading communications plan and ensure that the support of senior leadership is clearly visible. Ensure managers encourage employees to take advantage of the initiative, and allow employees enough time to do so.

  3. Identify the most valuable skills through employee self-awareness

    Determine what skills will be the most useful for your organization in the foreseeable future, then seek out those skills by creating a roadmap for success based on best practices. Practices for employees should encourage them to reflect on who they are as people, their performance, their work environment, their potential, and how they can go about achieving their goals. Similarly, managers should appreciate uniqueness, assess employees’ capabilities, anticipate and communicate changes in the workplace, align their employees’ aspirations with specific goals, and accelerate their employees’ learning.

  4. Review your transferable skills data

    Make sure you house your raw data in an ongoing, robust database. When you review the data, categorize it according to your business’ current and future needs, and ensure you align employees’ interests and skills to meet those evolving needs.

  5. Implement your redeployment plan

    Obviously, it’s not enough to simply inform employees of all the potential career options available to them; they need to be provided with the resources to pursue those opportunities. These resources may include workshops, re-skilling/re-certification opportunities, online career resource centres, e-learning courses, and professional coaching.

The key to any organization’s success is its people. That’s why it’s important for leaders to look beyond their employees’ specific roles and find those underlying qualities that could very well be the driving force into an even brighter future.

Source: Lynda Keffer, Vice President, Professional Services, Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH)

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