12.9.12

Fostering Talent, the Banfield-Seguin Way

I wonder if employers ever think about how important it is to keep their workforce busy, engaged and learning new things?

Let’s be perfectly honest for a second: How many of us have ever caught ourselves idling for a few minutes during a workday? Or found it hard to stay focused on and (dare I say it) excited about the tasks at hand?

To be fair, underutilization of workforce happens even in the most successful of businesses.

Image courtesy of iGadgetReport
Ever heard of Jonathan Ive?

For non-Mac fanatics out there, Jonathan Ive is an industrial designer whose ingenuity and creativity was/is instrumental in the revival of Apple over the past decade or so. The reason I mention him here is because, before the return of Steve Jobs in the late 1990s, Ive had already spent multiple years at Apple working in frustrated effort without anyone noticing him.

It was only once Jobs recognized Ive's unrealized talents that the designer was able to flourish and help the company become the industry leader it is today.

Taking a longer-term view

Having this kind of vision requires taking an unusual approach to work however.

In a prior lifetime, I worked in an industrial casting facility where there were a few employees who were classified as “floaters.” This meant that they were assigned to whichever department had the greater need for them at any given time. If you’ve got ca multi-skilled worker, what better way to offset disengagement than by allowing them to “float” between different jobs if they are open to the possibility?

Supporting your people means encouraging them to follow paths that might diverge from the conventional, pushing them to keep experimenting and learning (and allowing them the time to do that) and knowing that the benefits will likely manifest in a) a happier worker, and b) a uniquely-skilled worker who will eventually provide a better return on investment.

In short, investing in your people means taking a long-term, open-ended view with respect to development.

The Banfield-Seguin way

Working at a place like BSL – where people get hired on and stay on for multiple years – really makes one realize the benefits of trusting your people and mining the latent potential within them. For us, it simply makes greater sense to retain and nourish the people you hire, versus constantly looking for “fresh talent.”

Not only does doing this help your company develop a reputation as a great place to work, it fosters loyalty in your workforce and keep them connected to their jobs, which is preferable to having them feel bored enough that they start to feel unappreciated.

Ultimately, the longer teams work together and know one another (and your clients and business partners), the better the work they produce in the long run.

Look around your office

Could there be anyone with a genius seed waiting for the opportunity and encouragement to flower?

What initiatives could be implemented to make that come about, whether targeted to individual needs or company-wide ones?

Could you instigate a regular and open dialogue about ways for them to put their talents to more effective use in the workplace?

Let us know what you think.

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