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How to spot drive and potential within your employees

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18th Aug 2014
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Tom Chapman offers some advice on how to identify and reward those workers who have the drive and potential to make your business a success.

When evaluating workplace success, individuals may attribute gains to a number of different areas. For example, there might be a demand for your product, a journalist could have given a positive review of your business, or perhaps moving to a new area has increased your reputation in the eyes of consumers.

However, it could be argued that these factors pale in comparison to one aspect which is often overlooked – the employee. Whether you’re a multinational corporation or a local business, employees are the driving force which will either make or break your company. Therefore, when gains occur, it is absolutely essential that these people are rewarded. However, spotting drive and unrecognised potential within your workforce can be challenging, so how do you do it?

Rewarding employees is the first step

Although it can be argued that employees should motivate themselves and feel rewarded by their own efforts, this is not the case. In order to get the most out of your workforce, you should formally recognise when these people do a great job. This sounds like common sense, but studies have shown that this simple step can have far reaching consequences.

For example, in 2013, HR Magazine reported on a study which showed that 85% of staff members who were “meaningfully recognised” exceeded their responsibilities within their companies. In addition, if an individual feels “engaged”, the research showed they were almost 90% less likely than disengaged employees to leave their firms.

It should come as no surprise that if a worker does not feel recognised, he or she will start searching for new employment. Yet, with just a few simple words, managers could change a demotivated employee into one who always goes the extra mile.

How do I spot an employee who deserves promotion?

A good staff member will perform their job to the best of their abilities, but it takes more than a positive attitude to warrant a promotion. Fortunately, there are a number of telltale signs which show when a staff member could be a true asset to their company:

  • They always get results. It almost goes without saying, but those who consistently do good jobs should be rewarded. To further spur these people on, it might be worth mentioning you’re watching their progress and considering them for a promotion the next time you recognise their efforts.
  • They ask for additional training. If an employee is already performing good work and asks for extra duties, then this is a great way to test how they handle new responsibilities. If they cope well, it could be a sign they are ready for the next level.
  • They contribute regularly in meetings. Those employees who regularly give opinions and thoughts about how to achieve goals are valuable assets. It is worth keeping an eye on these individuals and giving them plenty of creative freedom.
  • They share their achievements through social media. By doing this, these people show they take pride in their work and have loyalty to their company.
  • They come up with new solutions to problems. An employee’s true potential is often revealed during complex problem-solving activities. This also gives them a place to suggest new ideas and make decisions.

What happens when I recognise potential?

There are many advantages to recognising hard-working employees. For example, they will be happier, more motivated, and demonstrate improved productivity. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for workers to start off small and progress to much higher levels within the company.

For example, the CEO of marketing agency Hill Holiday Karen Kaplan, started off as a receptionist; television producer Simon Cowell used to work in a mailroom, while many of the managers in financial institutions, such as Cambridge Building Society, started off in small roles within individual branches.

Spotting key talent and rewarding hard working employees is absolutely essential. Not only can this help firms advance far beyond the competition, but nurturing talent can create interesting business opportunities – and sometimes all it takes to get started is a simple ‘thank you’.

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