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Leaders, do you know your employees?

2 Sep 2015 - Blog

Leaders, do you know your employees?

When recruiting for a new employee, the skills, knowledge and attributes required from the new hire to fit the needs of the role are usually well defined. HR (ideally) work with the business team to design a job description and then develop a competency framework of the behaviours needed to succeed at those tasks.

Next, managers and often an HR representative, check recruits CVs and make sure they have the credentials relevant to the role and then they hold a series of interviews with the potential new hires.

“During this process, recruiters usually ask a series of questions closely based on the needs of the role. Sometimes recruiters may ask the person to share a little more about themselves than their skills and knowledge, but more often than not, this is a minor add-on to the hiring process.”

A candidate is chosen and hired for the position. That person then comes into the role and works to complete the tasks required of them. Things go well; a few months, or even years, pass and the worker is happily ticking along doing the role they set out to do.

“What you didn’t realise, is that this particular employee has a whole host of skills that you didn’t even know about.”

You see, when a new person is hired, we are often preoccupied with knowing whether the person can do what we want them to do that we fail to check if there’s anything else they can do that may be beneficial.

Perhaps your IT server guy is actually a master coder but he didn’t mention it because it wasn’t relevant to the role. In fact he thought it may make him a less desirable hire because his experience wasn’t focused enough around the skills you wanted. Or, perhaps your marketing assistant has been writing a personal blog for many years, has thousands of followers and is a master at social media promotion for that blog. You had no idea, and they didn’t want to mention it because their blog is about ugly Renaissance babies. Believe it or not, this blog exists…

Strange or not, the skills behind making something successful are often transferable, and sometimes hugely useful to your workplace.


Get to know your employees, and let them get to know you.

1. Be genuine

Show genuine interest in the lives of your employees outside of work. What do they like to do? Do they have hobbies? Are they secret master bakers? Don’t pry, but show genuine interest. Forget hierarchy – get to know your teams like the real people that they are, not as workers.

2. Align passions to output

Once you know what truly inspires and engages your people, you can help them to develop and use those skills but in line with your organisational goals. It’s a win-win for everyone.

3. Share some of you

It’s not a one-way street. When people are open with you about their personal lives, it’s appropriate to share something back. Remember this isn’t a therapy session, it’s about getting to know your people and working with them to increase their engagement at work while also developing the business.

Don’t let your employees go unnoticed, they may have a lot more to give than you realise.

“As a child did you play the game ‘follow the strategy’?


Me neither.

I played ‘follow the leader’.”


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