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You’re Stronger Than You Might Realize

Uncovering the hidden talents in your team

By Lisa Dixon

We all have hidden talents. At least that’s what my mom used to tell me every time I failed to land a cartwheel — something I still believe every 11 year old, besides me, could do. But she meant well and although I never did learn how to do a cartwheel, I did have other talents that my friends didn’t. And in today’s world, where staffing is tougher than ever and every business is vying for the same pool of candidates, this might be a good time to step back and look for those hidden talents in your workforce.

A few years back, Westbury Bank wanted to put together a welcome video for new hires — something that was fun and would really showcase the team. As we were discussing the project, someone remembered that we had a part-time teller who was going to school for video production. After talking with the employee and sharing our vision of the video, he was excited to not only shoot it, but to write a script and edit the final product. It turned out great and started us on a path to discover what other talents our coworkers might be hiding.

When we were looking for a photographer to shoot some pictures for a billboard campaign, we first turned to our employees to see if anyone had photography skills. Sure enough, our part-time teller had been dabbling in photography for a few years and was thrilled at the opportunity. It was a win-win. We got great shots for our billboards, and he got some real-world samples to add to his growing portfolio.

It’s not just those “creative talents” that I’m talking about. We tend to think of employees’ skills based on the title they have. Teller, deposit operations, compliance, marketing, etc. But if you really get to know your employees, you may find skills that neither you nor they ever considered. Need help with social media? You likely have someone who is well versed and would love to assist with creating posts. Accounting is struggling to find entry level candidates? Look to your branch staff, where you may find someone who not only understands how the front end works but also has the aptitude and drive needed to apply those skills on the back end. Commercial credit needs help? We have filled a number of those spots with part-time college students who became full-time employees upon graduation.

I’m not necessarily suggesting you “rob Peter to pay Paul,” although in some cases that might be the case — there are certain positions that are easier to fill than others. But, instead, be creative. Stop limiting your perception of employees’ skills based on their current title. Talk to employees about what their drive and passions are, and maybe then you’ll uncover some hidden talents.

Dixon, senior vice president – retail banking at Westbury Bank in Waukesha, is a member of the 2021–2022 WBA Marketing Committee.

This column is published bi-monthly in Wisconsin Banker and is written by members of the WBA Marketing Committee.