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Nurturing talent is the foundation of what Riverbend does every day.  As such, I want to add a Riverbend  Reflection to the discourse on talent, as we engage with it every day via our staff, our clients, and other partners.  Specifically, I want to focus on hidden (and transferrable) talent, as this is an area where Riverbend sees amazing opportunities for impact all the time.

So let’s talk about hidden talent.

First, I am not talking about discovering a surface-level qualification. I am talking about what lies beneath the surface. Namely, the unseen strengths. After all, people are complex.  People are always more than their functional title, either due to talent or opportunity.

To be clear, we all hire people with specific skills for specific jobs. However, once they assume the job, the opportunity presents to look for other talents beyond those linked to their degrees or job titles. This is something that any manager or colleague can do. And the benefits are exponential. 

I am a good example of this. I am a chemical engineer by background. I attended college for this discipline and when people asked me what I was as a student at Purdue and then young professional, this was the vocation I cited. Easy right? I am a chemical engineer.

My first boss helped me see talent differently. He offered me what so many other outstanding supervisors present to junior employees; the chance to evolve into something more. My first big project was in market research, a field in which I had zero experience. My boss probably never should have given someone with no background authority over such a large initiative. But he trusted me. He saw I could do it. What I learned during this project added skills to my expertise arsenal.  It also started me down a professional path I never knew existed. Years later another leader encouraged me to sign up for internal instruction on how to be a facilitator. I liked educating, but never considered it a professional calling.  And I LOVED it. I knew after that first instructional exposure this would be my future profession – in fact, it was the perfect fit! And this eventually (with some twists and turns along the way!) revealed my road to Riverbend.

Leadership is about finding the right people for the right job and then providing the right opportunities to exhibit transferable skills. 

Look for opportunities to develop your employees beyond their job description and degree to reveal hidden talents that could help them and the business grow exponentially.

Discovering hidden talent in your workforce is also a great way to make sure you’re not wasting resources by empowering your employees to diversify their skill sets and [potentially] align with jobs or pursuits they never thought possible. In doing so you are tapping into passions that previously lay dormant until now. Who knows, you could be cultivating the next CEO. It’s a win/win for both employee and employer.

Author Cece Berger Sharp

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