Investing in and optimising talent is critical to sustainable business success. A lot of time and resources are spent to recruit and onboard employees, but often managing and optimising employees’ talent is neglected. Providing employees with the opportunity to grow will increase employee engagement which is critical for the success of your business.

It is essential to have a good understanding of individual team members’ strengths and development areas

In order to optimise talent, you need to be fully aware of each individual team members’ strengths and development areas. Annual performance reviews are not enough. A lot of strengthening, developing and even decreasing in abilities can happen in a year’s time. Regular one to one discussions with your team are therefore critical.

Employees cannot begin to determine their strengths and development areas without proper and regular feedback. It might be challenging providing regular feedback, but it is important to keep the bigger picture around the purpose of the feedback in mind. As humans we have an inherent need to improve ourselves but without awareness of our development areas this will not be possible. Research shows that about 87% of employees want to improve in their job but only a third actually receive the feedback they need in order to develop.

During regular discussions with your team, make sure you clarify role expectations. This will ensure that employees do not deviate from role requirements when setting development objectives. It is important to align the outcome of these discussions to the Key Performance Indicators of the role. This will allow you to optimise talent that is linked to the strategic objectives of the business.

Provide opportunities through formal and informal methods

It is important to not only consider workshops, classes and conferences to develop employees. Successful managers are constantly looking for new ways of learning on the job as well. Combining formal and informal methods of learning will provide employees with the opportunity to apply what they have learned on the job.

Consider the following three ideas to provide employees with various methods to learn and grow.

  • Make the workplace a classroom with action learning: Give your team high risk problems that aligns with the organisation’s strategic objectives. Allow time for them to analyse the problem, develop solutions and test it. This can stretch over a few months if need be. Get the team together once the solutions are tested and discuss what worked and what did not work. This type of learning will stretch employees to learn beyond their current responsibilities and competence.
  • Allow employees to grow with a job assignment strategy: The best way to learn new skills and grow beyond your current ability is by doing. Assign jobs to individuals even if they do not have the skill set to do the job. Guide them throughout this journey where they will acquire a new set of skills. Job assignment will push employees out of their comfort zone and give them the opportunity to take risks.
  • Not all learning opportunities are available in-house: It is essential to understand your team’s learning aspirations and how they want to get there. Perhaps the opportunities to reach their development goals might not exist within the organisation. Be strategic about looking for opportunities in local communities, non-profits, workshops and conferences.

Assigning the right task to the right employee

 Optimising talent does not stop with knowing employees’ development areas and strengths and providing the right opportunities for them to learn. It is vital to assign the right tasks to the right employee to allow them to develop and extract their full potential. Knowing how to effectively assign tasks is the key to leveraging yourself and your team that will multiply value to the organisation.

Delegating means to assign the responsibility of completing a task or project to another individual. Delegation is not just about maximising your own productivity but also the productivity of your team. It is your responsibility as a manager to get the highest return on the company’s investment in people. The average employee today works at 50% of their full capacity. With effective delegation skills you can tap into the unused 50% of your team. Delegate the right tasks to the right employees with the following guidelines:

  • Know employees’ knowledge, skills, abilities, and aspirations to pick the right person to execute the task. It is important to not only consider current skills and abilities but also the employee’s objectives to develop.
  • Be sure that the person you delegate the task can execute the task or has the necessary guidance to assist them to execute the task.
  • Delegate smaller tasks at first to newer staff or staff that does not yet have the ability to execute the task. This will build their confidence and competence.
  • When possible delegate the entire job. This can be a key performance motivator. The more responsibilities you can eventually assign to an employee the more competent they become.
  • Clear outcomes are key when delegating tasks or projects to employees. Ensure that the outcomes can be measured as this will allow you to manage it. Explain to the employee what needs to be done, how you suggest it needs to be done and why it needs to be done. Allow the employee to also provide input as to how they think the task can be executed.

Promote learning in your team and create opportunities for them to grow and reach their full potential. This will keep them challenged and engaged. Employees who feel restricted in terms of learning is already one foot out the door. Make learning part of the company’s culture by continuously encouraging and providing learning opportunities for yourself and others.


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Kathleen Allen, Peter Economy. Retrieved from

Artem Albul. (2019). People Management Basics: How to Assign Tasks to Your Subordinates. Retrieved from

Brian Tracy. How To Delegate The Right Tasks To The Right People: Effective Management Skills For Leadership Success. Retrieved from

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