This is a guest post by Eric Bloom, Executive Director of IT Management and Leadership Institute.
Do you know all the non-task-oriented skills and abilities of the people on your team? Does someone in the IT Testing Group have an undergraduate degree in English? Is your administrative assistant fluent in French or Spanish? Does your Human Resources Representative fix computers on the weekend for extra money? Is the new Tech Writer just hired into the Web Content Group also an accomplished artist or photographer?
As an IT Manager, these questions and questions like them can dramatically increase your department’s success, if you can find innovative ways to take advantage of these hidden skills.
Using an example from above, if you are head of the Web Content Group responsible for the company's website, having someone on your team who is an accomplished amateur photographer may provide the opportunity to save the company money. You could ask the person on your team to take headshots of the senior executives for the website's "About" page, rather than hiring an expensive external photography agency.
As a second example, if you have an English major turned software tester in your midst, this person may be able to help you proofread department presentations before presenting them to customers, project stakeholders, or senior management.
Benefits to employees
Being aware of your team members' hidden skills has a number of advantages for both you and those working for you. Let's begin with the advantages for your team:
1. Allows employees to illustrate greater value to the company
2. Provides the employees the opportunity for multiple potential career paths
3. Gives employees a way to expand their professional accomplishments
4. Allows employees to enhance their expertise in currently unused skills
5. Increases the group's morale and job satisfaction by allowing them to use a wider range of their skills
6. Allows employees to use/practice their hobbies (ex. photography) at the office
Benefits to you, as department manager
The advantages for you, as the department manager, are:
1. Allows you to get greater value out of your staff
2. Reduces employee attrition by increasing employee morale and job satisfaction
3. Provides a way to help you grow your staff professionally
4. Helps foster innovation by bringing additional skills to the business table
5. Helps you personally build your professional brand as a manager who encourages their team members to move ahead professionally
6. Enhances your department's productivity and effectiveness
Leverage on common hidden skills
My next question is, do you, your peers, your staff, or your manager have any hidden skills or hobbies in common? If so, this is a great way to create close professional connections with other people at your company.
For example, say you, your manager, and the VP of Tech Support are all musicians. Coming together as an ad hoc band to play at the company's annual holiday party could not only be fun, but also create long term "off the organization chart" connections between you and your fellow musicians.
These connections could potentially provide you with additional internal candidates to hire or career opportunities for you personally.
Incorporate your hidden skills into your job
My last question is directed to you personally. What hidden skills do you have that could be of value to your manager, your company or companies in other industries? Finding a way to incorporate your hidden skills into your job can help you accelerate your career.
For example, if you are a Project Manager by day and follow the stock market at night, you may be perfectly positioned to combine your project management profession and your stock market hobby by leading the technology team that supports your company's Treasury Department.
Until next time, lead well, innovate, and continue to grow.
Eric Bloom is the Executive Director of the IT Management and Leadership Institute, Founder of OfficeInfluence.com, author of the book “Office Influence: Get What You Want from The Mailroom to the Boardroom”, an Amazon bestselling author, speaker, trainer and executive coach.
Eric is also a former nationally syndicated columnist, TEDx speaker, and recognized thought leader on the use of influence in the workplace.
He is also a Past President of National Speakers Association New England, a Certified Professional Speaker (CSP), and the author of various other books, including “Productivity Driven Success” and “The CIO’s Guide to Staff Needs, Growth, and Productivity”. Prior to his current role, Eric was a senior IT executive at various firms including Fidelity Investments, Monster.com and Independence Investments.