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Recognize employees’ hidden talent to boost retention

Recognize and appreciate the hidden talent on your team to increase employee retention.

3 min read


Video transcript: Studies show that all generations wish their leadership took more notice of them and their accomplishments — which often means leaders need to get good at recognizing the hidden talent on their team. Retention often boils down to a few key leadership strengths:

  • Recognizing your talent.
  • Nurturing their growth.
  • Making sure other people recognize their strengths, too.

Certain groups, such as women, people of color and introverts, tend to be undervalued because they don’t fit the traditional definitions of leaders. If you want to improve retention, put these five tips into practice.

1. Notice their contributions, and give positive feedback

All employees appreciate recognition and gratitude. People want to know that they’re meeting expectations. The younger or newer the employee, the more likely this is to be true.

2. Highlight your hidden leaders’ strengths

Get the visibility ball rolling by letting others know the strengths of your hidden leaders. Then others will be more likely to think of them when trying to solve a problem or hash out a new idea. Most of us appreciate when colleagues reach out to hear our thoughts.

3. Make opportunities available to those who are traditionally overlooked

Excitement and enthusiasm for our job often stems from new challenges. Assign or nominate your talented employees for critical projects, interim positions and other opportunities. Help them build great reputations, and they’ll be more likely to stick around and advance in your company.

4. Rethink the leadership skillset

If your company tends to promote only big personalities — assertive, outgoing and intensely self-promoting candidates — consider a more diverse approach. Talk with senior leadership about broadening their acceptance of other leadership styles. Studies show the most successful companies have a broad mix of personalities at the table. This can open up new opportunities for your hidden leaders to advance.

5. Showcase the accomplishments of your hidden leaders

Publicly recognize their successes. This will enhance their status and influence. Chances to take on new challenges and growth opportunities will arise more often as a result.

Chances are, you’re overlooking hidden leaders whose talents you should be cultivating. If you pay more attention to them, you’ll retain your best employees and grow your aspiring leaders. Don’t make your employees seek acknowledgment elsewhere — look around your team and start your plan to help build positive reputations today.

Executive coach Joel Garfinkle provides corporate trainings and coaching sessions to help employees achieve higher levels of leadership and is the author of 11 books, including “Getting Ahead.” Subscribe to his Fulfillment at Work Newsletter or view his video library of more than 150 easily actionable, two-minute inspirational video clips by subscribing to his YouTube channel.


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