What happens when we underutilize the talent that exists in our organizations? We may think it’s simply a missed opportunity for greater growth and better mission delivery. But what if it’s actually harmful?
A recent Harvard Business Review article by Liz Wiseman titled, Smart Leaders Get More Out of the Employees They Have, reminded me how the untapped potential of salaried staff and knowledge philanthropists (volunteers) have the same root cause. In both cases, leaders and managers are not proactively identifying and engaging all the talents, skills and expertise available to them.
In Wiseman’s extensive research, staff describe this experience as “frustrating” and “exhausting”. When people aren’t stretched and engaged in meaningful work, there are serious consequences for the organization. The first is high turnover of top talent, and the second is low morale in those that stay, leading to disillusionment that can infect the entire culture.
My experience with this phenomenon in not-for-profit organizations is that it applies equally to both salaried staff and knowledge philanthropists. When we fail to fully engage the skills and talents of all the people that work with us, we do them – and even more importantly our organizations – a huge disservice.
It isn’t about driving your salaried staff and knowledge philanthropists to produce more work. It’s about providing the opportunity for them to contribute their best work – towards your mission, your cause.
You have this potential in your organization right now. Are you vigorously developing ALL your people to contribute their best? What talents are in your organization that you could activate right now?
Our mission is to transform not-for-profit organizations by convening, connecting, and equipping leaders to lift organizational capacity. Every client leaves our programs with resources to excel in their role and grow the impact of their organization.
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