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40+ Years of Management Experience Summed Up In 10 Thoughts, Part 6

The first five thoughts of 10 steps to mighty management can be found beginning here. Now, let's head into the discussion of number six.

Thought #6: Find the ‘Hidden Skills’ (and conversations) Among Your Team

In his role as Supervisor, my dad had this one particular guy on his team that presented the image of a large, unintelligent, superficial oaf. Mike was a huge guy that had earned a reputation for his size, so he learned at a young age to impress people with his brute instead of his brains. When my dad ended up with Mike on the line, he assumed that he’d only be good for running a press and then heading home to eat his Hungry Man dinner after his 8 hour stint. But a team building activity caused my dad to stop and ask this guy questions, listen to his answers, and encourage him to continue to express himself intelligently, and boy did it pay off! It surfaced that he had found a hole in his process and even had a resolution that, once addressed, saved the company thousands of dollars each month! Had no one been digging for a diamond in the rough, this gem would have stayed securely hidden, and money would have continued to slip down the drain.

Recognizing that some people easily and frequently express ideas and opinions while others struggle to speak at all, is key. It may take more effort to help someone that’s shy to share a thought or make a suggestion. Providing an encouraging and “safe” environment is essential for these team members, and it often takes time to earn their trust. But it’s worth our time and effort because we may uncover a talent or idea that reshapes the way we work or the effectiveness of our team. And it’s not only the reserved people that we have to consider. Boosting the confidence of a more outgoing person could also uncover a hidden talent that even they aren’t aware exists.

As a young woman I didn’t have my sights set on a career. Instead I was a wife, mother and happy to work at a “job” while my kids were at school to help pay the bills. However, in the two companies that I worked for that spanned 20 years of my career, I had bosses that saw more potential in me than I did and created opportunities for me that I wouldn’t have dreamed of. I was not a shy, timid person that was afraid to speak out, but I was young and rough around the edges! It took two people with great intuition to see that if they challenged me I would rise to more than I thought that I could be. And in the end, it paid off for them and for me.

TAKE ACTION: What do you know about the people on your team? If you have some that are more reserved, reach out to them individually and talk with them about what they love in their work and what they might like to do in the future. Ask them about their current work; what’s good, bad and great. Be prepared to ask specific questions, because the shy folks can be uncomfortable with open ended questions. However, when in discussions with them, give ample opportunity for them to ponder your questions and reply, helping to reinforce that you value their insight and ideas. Also, keep an eye out for the more open and sharing folks, and consider if they may need some prompting to get to the next level in their work or their career. Remember that although they may come across as bold and outspoken, they may still need your belief in them to reach new heights.

Kirsten Smith, founder of Made to Thrive Consulting has over 20 years Business Development and Management experience with small and large organizations alike, including those listed among the Fortune 500.

For information on training courses that can help your organization reach the next level, visit or contact Kirsten Smith at

© 2017 Made to Thrive Consulting, LLC. All right reserved


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