In spite of what your parents told you, you are not great at everything. Nobody is. But each of us is great at something. This is critical information. Because the more we know what our “thing” is — the more we know our unique abilities — the better we can identify our inner “expert.”
Every company has hidden “experts” who, with some effort, can help support the organization by teaching what they know best — by sharing their expertise with the entire organization. The more diverse our workplaces become, the greater our internal information base, areas of expertise, and training resources.
Consider these three ways to discover your employees’ areas of expertise and inspire their “inner teacher.”
Make your employees take a survey
In my company, we created a survey that asks employees about their talents, what they value in the workplace and in life, their interests, what they're great at, and their favorite way of learning. This helps us identify their unique abilities, as well as what they want to learn, and what, if anything, they could help teach. "The Problem With Employee Surveys,” an article in the February issue of Talent Management Magazine, is a good place to start thinking about how to develop a meaningful employee survey.
Assess the organization's performance needs
Review the performance level of all areas of the company. What core skills do all employees need? What development do specific employees need? Where is performance below, at, or above expectation? Define the learning areas needed to improve or maintain performance levels.
Place 'experts' where your company lacks skills
Most organizations never discover the expertise potential of their own employees. Within the organization are true experts in many of the skills needed to improve performance companywide. It is a healthy exercise to first start with a review of the unique abilities in the employee base before sourcing experts from outside the organization. Once defined, management or resident educators can work with employees to translate their expertise into transferrable skills education — invest in a great “train the trainer” program. Here’s another good “Train the Trainer” program.
We are each great at something. Discover what everyone's "thing" is, know the education gaps in the organization, and start closing those gaps by using the experts on the team as the first line of company education.
Most employees step up and find their "inner teacher" when asked to teach or share an area of expertise — we all like to be known as the expert and to share what we know to help others improve. Never underestimate or undervalue the core expertise resident in every employee. Unlock this hidden resource and bring it to the organization to continually and efficiently improve performance.
Image used under Creative Commons by Flickr user UC Davis College of Engineering.
Jay Forte is a nationally ranked thought leader and President of Humanetrics. Jay guides organizations — their leaders and managers — in how to attract, hire and retain today’s best talent. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition and The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform The World. Jay is a member of SHRM, ASTD, the National Speakers Association and the Florida Speakers Association. Follow him on Twitter.