Originating from Late Latin potentials, meaning “power” Potential generally refers to a currently unrealized ability. Since time immemorial, the concept of ‘human potential’ has fascinated both practitioners and leaders alike.
Though it is believed that it is the potential that sets the upper limit for all individuals in the workplace, however now it is the time in our lives when the idea of power has changed.
Business is not as usual! Covid19 (once-in-a-century disaster), Digital Disruptions, Big Resignation Wave, Non-linearity, Fluidity at the workplace and Rising aspirations of the Younger Generation are causing leaders to re-evaluate how to lead teams in today’s BANI ( brittle, anxious, non-linear and incomprehensible ) world.
There is a common practice in many organizations where the top tier of employees (identified as High Potentials) are exposed to intense training and various other learning and development interventions. This might comprise of maximum 20% of employee strength leaving behind the majority of the employee population.
Usually, the Learning and Development department dedicates a considerable time to identifying the Individual development needs of these HiPots followed by coaching and mentoring, cross-functional training, and several other competency-building programs, which at times are overwhelming. This already subset of future leaders consumes much available training resources, leaving the balance population underdeveloped, underappreciated, and at times ignored.
Let us imagine a state where if not 100% but then the majority of the employees are gradually given the opportunity to realize their strengths, and above all their potential, how this would impact the performance of organization in the days to come? Potential development is a collaborative effort where both team members and manager craft the success story but what can we do to awaken the latent potential of these individuals at the workplace?
Individuals are motivated to deliver more when they take pride in what they do. Here leaders/managers play a vital role in explaining the business fundamentals: Vision, Mission, Values, and Goals for the current year along with how their contribution influences the overall growth of the company.
Ideally, these should be cascaded during the initial days of joining so that by the time employees perform these basics are ingrained in their conscious and subconscious minds. Every individual wants to partner in the growth story of their company and taking pride in their job will further elevate their potential.
Let us accept and respect the fact that each individual is unique. As manager/influencer you have to identify your Leadership style, are you more towards the authoritative side, or empowering team members is your natural style?
Ideally, we empower employees through coaching and training but it is also important to support them during failures and let them learn from their mistakes. Ask them what they have learned from the situation, and how it can be prevented in the future.
Accountability is the most underused tool on the part of managers, after all, empowerment comes along with accountability!
Creating a Learning Environment
Though learning is intrinsic but a learning environment can be fostered where both manager and employee can co-create their developmental journey.
In the current scenario, it is imperative for HR to create and sustain a learning organization, which will continually expand employee potential, with people continuously learning how to learn together and where collective aspirations are set free.
There are quite a number of companies like Aditya Birla Group, Apple, Deloitte, and others that have set up ‘Corporate University’ which form a strategic arm of the organization focused on transformation agenda.
Personal and Professional Caring
The final secret to unlock your team’s potential is engaging with them at an emotional level. Practice using constructive dialogue to create an environment of Personal and Professional caring. A lack of poor dialogue leads to internal conflict. After all, people want to feel they belong. Emotionally connecting acts as a catalyst to create more energy.
The last 2 ½ years have blurred the line between work and home forcing managers to re-evaluate employee power and preferences. On one hand, we have Generation X driven by the philosophy of ‘Work is Worship’ which has changed its form over progressing generations born to a more digital world, where technology is a part of their everyday regime. With lives revolving around YouTube, multitasking has increased, with a decrease in the span of attention. Instant gratification is the need of the hour along with the freedom to execute jobs.
Yet many organizations are unwilling or unable to let go off the past and embrace the new changes in the workplace. Harnessing employee potential at the workplace is quintessential, especially in the new normal. It has proven to have a direct influence on internal factors like talent retention and workforce development, as well as large-scale elements like business performance and resilience.