How identifying the aptitudes of your staff and applying it strategically can grow your business

In our series of articles thus far we have covered various topics where we point out how you can become more self-aware and grow as an individual by changing your negative beliefs, know your strengths and weaknesses, and also to find inner peace. All these elements will help you on the path to a more focused business approach. But what about your employees and their development? Are you confident that your current staff and future employees are in the correct positions or applied in the best way to drive and grow your business? The best way to approach this is by focusing on the aptitudes of your employees.

What is an aptitude and how do I identify it in my employees?

According to the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, a leader in aptitude development, aptitudes are natural talents, special abilities for doing, or learning to do, certain kinds of things easily and quickly. It is a natural skill. I am sure you have observed someone in the workplace, a friend or family member display an above-average ability to do something without a lot of effort. It just works and in many instances these individuals are also surprised at how good they are at these specific tasks.

Aptitudes are in many cases not related to the interest of the person, as an interest would likely be something this individual would have practiced (an acquired skill). Yet, when aptitudes are further developed it can become a great source of interest and provide immense job satisfaction to this person

How identifying the aptitudes of your staff and applying it strategically can grow your business

Identifying the aptitudes of your employees is not a difficult process if you take the time to observe them while in the workplace and have a good relationship with them with open communication. Like knowing yourself is all-important for your business, knowing your staff is equally needed. Look out for tasks where a staff member displays good ability or areas of growth. Over time these areas will start revealing itself more and you should take the opportunity to further develop it within your employee.

Another method of identifying aptitudes is a formal aptitude test. These tests are quite expensive and technical, yet I highly recommended it if you have the opportunity to do this with your staff. An investment in your workforce will always give a return if it is nurtured properly!

Growing an aptitude into an ability

How identifying the aptitudes of your staff and applying it strategically can grow your business

When you identify an aptitude in an employee you should communicate it to them and motivate them to further investigate it. Teach them to become more self-aware. With encouragement, training and practice, any aptitude can be turned into ability. An ability (or skill) indicates something a person is able to do well.

Without aptitude, we can still learn to do something well but it will always be a struggle as it does not come naturally. A skill that is grown from a natural ability is something that will bring joy and fulfilment.

Once an aptitude has been identified you can set up a development plan for the employee to further develop in the particular area. It can be formal education, practical courses or in-house training such as job shadowing a senior employee or business owner. Over time the employee will develop and the aptitude will become an ability which will be an attribute to your business.

Growing aptitudes into a position of leadership

How identifying the aptitudes of your staff and applying it strategically can grow your business

When we master a skill from the point of developing an aptitude, we will reach a level when we can teach and lead our peers on that specific area. But we have to start at the beginning and work our way towards that point. Whenever we learn a new ability, we must pass through the following four stages of skill development, which can generally be identified as the following:

  • Beginner:
    In the beginner phase, we are just starting to learn about a skill. This stage can go quickly or take a long time, depending on the complexity of the skill to be acquired. During this time, we receive an orientation to the topic by studying it, or we are taught by a person who has mastered the skill. It’s useful to see demonstrations of the skill being used to complete tasks (e.g. job shadowing). This can be done by your staff who has already developed their aptitudes into a solid skill.
  • Student:
    During the student stage, the employee starts practicing the skill in the workplace under the supervision of a person who has mastered it. It is normal that the employee first assists with the task until he / she becomes familiar and confident with the process. They should then practise the skill repeatedly until it becomes second nature.
  • Expert:
    When the skill becomes natural to the employee and he / she can do it repeatedly and consistently without error, the individual has reached the point of being an expert on the area.
  • Leader / Mentor:
    The greatest pleasure for employees and employer alike is when the employees have mastered a task and get to the point where they can begin to share their skills by training others. This is when you, as business owner, can see the returns of investing in your staff.

Developing aptitudes in to abilities grows your business

How identifying the aptitudes of your staff and applying it strategically can grow your business

Having employees who can function at expert level (from identifying and developing their aptitudes) and, who can now develop junior employees coming into your business, not only ensures the ongoing improvement of your business, but also creates a healthy corporate culture and team spirit. By being able to do a task well and enjoying it – since it comes naturally – will result in excellent results of job performance. We all know that well-performing employees drives a business to greater heights and profitability.

Taking the small step of showing interest in your employees to develop their aptitudes will reap great results such as making more money in your business. Aside from monetary value, an interest in the development and growth of your employees will improve your corporate identity and make a positive change in the lives of others. This also ensures loyalty and better staff retention. A business built on such a foundation is bound to grow exponentially.

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