Sixth Sense: Realizing Employee Potential

by Bill Paddack ([email protected]) 142 views 

In today’s competitive world, recognizing and further developing employee talent and potential are crucial to success in the workplace. Talk Business & Politics asked six business leaders for their tips on supporting employees’ growth and successfully helping them to realize their potential.


Chuong Nguyen
DataRank Inc.

At DataRank we call our employees, including the founders, “datawhales,” and the professional and personal development of each datawhale is paramount to our mission of empowering people to make informative decisions with the use of valuable data. Tips you can adapt:

Transparency: Be completely open in all aspects of a project, meeting or executive decision. This will increase trust.

Get on their level: Interact with your employees as if you are an equal on the team.

Challenge them: Ambitious people tend to excel when they are working with others who have strengths that they might not possess or fall short on.

Continuing education: Provide resources that will nurture professional and personal development.

Community involvement: Whether it be supporting a charitable cause, participating in 5K runs or volunteering at a local soup kitchen, encouraging your team to play an active role in your local community can provide a sense of self-fulfillment for them that can be carried over into the work environment.


Rodney Shepard
Arvest Bank of Fort Smith
Fort Smith

An organization’s personnel differentiates it within its respective marketplace, and it’s incumbent on employers to partner with employees and offer growth opportunities. Three ideas:

Engage employees: Show genuine concern for them as individuals and nurture their need to be a valued part of the team. Important to that is finding out what their career interests are and aligning their skill set with the organization’s mission. Mentoring plays a vital role to increase employees’ cultural competence by expanding their awareness and networking deepens their relationships with other employees.

Invest time and resources in training programs: You will have and see a better, more committed workforce if you afford them the opportunity to continue to sharpen their skills.

Challenge employees: Assigning projects that will stretch them facilitates the learning process – employees want their work to be challenging, educational and rewarding.

As a leader, I strive to be a role model who shares professional and personal growth with the team.


Kelly Whitehorn
Manager, Communications and eMarketing
Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Little Rock

One of my favorite quotes is, “Good leaders must first become good servants.” I would encourage those in positions to influence others to do so with humor and humility.

Remember these two things about leadership:

No one ever learned anything by talking. It is very important to listen without interrupting.

Micromanaging is not a virtue. It’s OK if people have a few failures; it’s simply part of the learning process.

As a leader, model the simple things such as knowing your business and meeting deadlines. Create an environment that values everyone’s opinion, recognizes potential and encourages a healthy balance between work and family life.

Finally, it’s very, very important to have a candy jar on your desk. It guarantees interaction, and it gives you a chance to get to know your co-workers on a more personal level. My candy jar has confirmed my suspicions about my colleagues. They definitely have a preference for milk chocolate.


Malinda See
Vice President of Corporate Services
Southwest Power Pool, Inc.
Little Rock

There are multiple components that support employees in their career growth and assist them in realizing their potential.

First and foremost, an organizational culture supporting employee continuous improvement and education is crucial. Realizing that everyone learns differently, employers can support continued education for employees through tuition reimbursement programs, offering both instructor-led and online education opportunities, and creating job rotation programs that challenge and educate employees on other aspects of the company.

Training managers to offer coaching and conduct candid conversations with employees about their career interests and aspirations is also vital. Employees should be encouraged to explore career paths both horizontally and vertically in the organization. These types of programs can be beneficial for both the employee and the organization. An organizational culture that supports employee growth and development ensures that both the employees and the organization reach their potential.


Benny Baker, CHA
Director of Sales
The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa
Hot Springs

Staff development is a critical investment for success. My role is to serve as their coach, teacher, mentor and leader.

Employees must have the tools and in some cases specialized training to succeed as well as authority to support their responsibility. Everyone has a gift and a special skill set.

My goal is to be honest in their evaluations and to let them know what they do well and what they need to improve.

Share success as well as failures. They then become the coach, teacher and leader and serve as a mentor to others.


Tonja Gibson, SPHR
Human Resources/Benefits Analyst
E.C. Barton & Company

Employee development is the combination of education, job experiences, relationships and assessment of personality and abilities to help employees prepare for the future. Employers need to:

Assess Employees’ Skill Sets: Gather the data on your employees, including interests and abilities.

Mentor and Coach Employees: Help employees develop problem-solving skills and the ability to think by giving them work that will stretch them. Give them the knowledge, skills and tools they need to not only do their job, but also to go above and beyond.

Set Goals: Involve employees in setting goals. Specify competencies and knowledge that must be developed. Empower your employees. Provide feedback and ask your employees for their feedback.

Follow Up: Measure successes and celebrate those successes. Adjust goals as needed. Share information – talk about what’s going on in your organization: the good, the bad and the ugly. When you give employees an opportunity to grow, their job satisfaction and your ability to retain them both increase substantially.