10 steps to spot potential in your team

A thriving team allows you to build long-term success as a financial advisor. It’s crucial then to know how to spot potential in others, like a gardener planting seeds, to produce results — for both themselves and the team — that they may never have imagined. Tap into the power of reaching out to someone who works for you by saying something such as, “I think you are going to do wonderfully at this next task. You have a good eye for detail, and that’s exactly what’s required here.”

By following a few steps, you’ll learn to see the future success in others, which can help you attract and retain an incredible team.

Step 1: Start with strengths

Pay attention to what’s special. Everyone has talents, so zero in on those gifts. Is someone organized, great with people, quick to learn new skills or mechanically inclined?

Step 2: Look in less-obvious areas

Once you’ve identified the visible strengths, start looking in less-obvious places. You may uncover a hidden talent. An average performer may become the exception with a little help from the power of suggestion.

Step 3: Stick with sincerity

It’s one thing to recognize a spark before others see it. It’s another thing to tell people they’re good at something when there is significant evidence to the contrary. Most people can spot insincerity from a mile away, so it’s important to remain sincere.

Step 4: Identify opportunities

In addition to recognizing possibility, spotters of great potential are on the lookout for the places where others can shine. They know opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes the opportunity is a task or a project. Other times it’s a position or some other responsibility.

Step 5: Bring the person and the opportunity together in the right place

Great spotters of potential understand not only who and what to pair, but also how to introduce the opportunity. Sometimes these conversations are casual, and other times they are formal meetings. The type to hold largely depends on the person and the task. And because every circumstance is different, it’s important to be deliberate. If the task is part of routine work, a short conversation held in public may be appropriate. Conversely, when presenting a large project or new position, a formal meeting might be a better option.

Step 6: Connect what and why

People who make a habit of spotting potential in others follow a formula. They recognize a person’s strength, how it fits with the opportunity and why the match makes sense. For example, you can say the following:

“I’ve been watching you work. You know how to follow processes, and now I think you’re ready to increase your speed. You’re diligent in your approach to what you do, and your attitude is certainly one of can-do. I know you could be one of our top performers with some practice.”

Step 7: Prepare for a range of reactions

People react to potential spotters in a range of ways. Some embrace what they’re told and look forward to tackling whatever opportunity the spotter highlights. Others get bogged down in self-doubt and require additional reassurance. And from time to time, the spotter meets with rejection when the person with the potential does not immediately or, for that matter, ever embrace the opportunity. A good potential spotter is ready for anything.

Step 8: Set the stage for success

Sometimes people with great potential fail because of factors that have nothing to do with the person or the opportunity. Keep this in mind, and to the extent you can, pave the way for success with training, exposure to information, time to practice new skills and other appropriate resources.

Step 9: Embrace all results

When people meet with success, potential spotters acknowledge it, and they’re well on their way toward finding additional opportunities to build on what’s been achieved. On the other hand, when people and opportunities don’t come together well, a good potential spotter takes the situation in stride and finds other avenues for people to thrive.

Step 10: Make time for spotting

Potential spotting can happen organically, but it can happen more often when you set aside time to think about it. Scheduling spotting time can yield great results. Great potential is in everyone, and when it’s unleashed it compounds. Success builds success.

Imagine if everyone in your workplace realized even half of his or her potential. What could people achieve alone and together? Probably more than they do now. So, whose potential do you need to spot today?

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works Inc., a talent development firm that provides soft-skills training courses and workshops to clients. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.

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