From asking the right questions at interview level to using testing, training and challenges to pinpoint employee skills, there are a number of ways you can spot potential in the workforce. In fact, employers that fail to officially recognise staff skills could risk missing out on some of the best talent.

A survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development showcased that over three quarters of today’s companies have no talent assessment process in place whatsoever. Some 79% of employers lack the assessment tools and processes required to spot staff with potential that could help the business grow and expand in the future. On top of this, 30% of those asked stated that their company was lacking any explanation when it came to describing what potential looks like for them.

These statistics come as a great surprise, especially as 81% of employers questioned concurred that developing staff potential was ‘fairly’ or ‘extremely’ important to them.

The importance of nurturing potential

It’s hugely important to nurture employee potential ­ both for the success of your company and the wellbeing of your staff – of course, to do this you must know how to spot talent. When appraising workplace success, it’s not uncommon for individuals to showcase qualities in a number of different areas. Regardless of whether you’re a global corporation or a small to medium sized local business, it’s imperative you recognise that it’s your employees who drive the company and it’s your staff who make or break your corporation. In order to show your appreciation for talent, it’s essential to reward your workforce. However spotting both drive and unrecognised potential within your office environment can be a challenging task.

Rewarding employees is essential

It’s equally important that you reward your employees, just as much as it is for them to motivate themselves and feel rewarded by their own strengths. Recognising and congratulating your workforce when they do a good job is common sense. Studies have also revealed that commending your staff when they do well will encourage them to try even harder the second time around.

According to a study conducted by HR Magazine, employees who are “meaningfully recognised” tend to surpass the duties required of them. On top of this, staff that are continually “engaged” are 90% less likely to leave their current role. Those who receive little gratitude in the working environment are however highly likely to start searching for new employment. It goes without saying that it only takes a few simple yet encouraging words to change the attitude of a demotivated employee.

How to spot an employee who deserves promotion?

Tom Chapman, a staff writer at Vertical Leap, believes “employees who perform their job role to the highest standards and to the best of their abilities are the ones who deserve recognition”. However, a promotion takes more than a positive attitude alone. These are a few of the skills you can look for:

  • ­Striving to get the best results.
  • ­Coming up with new solutions to problems and thinking outside of the box.
  • ­Enquiring about additional training – not only to progress their own career, but the companies’ growth.
  • ­Making themselves heard regularly at meetings.
  • ­Sharing achievements, goals and expectations through social media.

Getting the help required

A third of respondents interviewed by the CIPD stated they would like additional senior management support in order to commend employees – however this support hasn’t yet been made available. A further 24% of respondents said they believed identifying talent to be pointless without the correct development programmes available to support it. Organisations need to take a more disciplined and effective approach when it comes to identifying potential if they wish to keep a hold of talented staff.

Companies currently on the ball when recognising potential in the workforce tend to focus on employees between the ages of 25 to 34 – ­ this was the case for 62% of managers.

A people management survey conducted by CIPD stated: “It is time organisations recognised the importance of spotting potential and did something about it. Organisations need to have a clear definition of what potential actually looks like, a clear way of measuring it, and link this to appropriate development interventions to ensure potential is optimised.”

Employers need to review talent as a skill that drives competitive advantage for your company. This involves looking at the bigger picture, focussing on staff who are close to the customer, and not just those who are close to the board. This also means looking at staff of all ages and not just those who fit within a certain bracket.

It’s important to also remember that both aspirations and ambitions change. Use the data that you have available to make well-informed decisions and don’t be afraid to hunt around for more information either.