Every organisation out there is sitting on a mine of knowledge. In most cases, however, it goes primarily untapped. There is therefore a huge opportunity for business and HR leaders everywhere to grab the source of this knowledge with both hands, to extrapolate it and maximise the impact it can have on organisational delivery.

What am I talking about? I am of course referencing the knowledge which is held by the individuals who make up an organisation’s workforce. Every single person we hire to come and work for us brings their own innate set of skills, knowledge and experience. Rarely, however, do we use this to its full advantage.

Turning onboarding on its head

If you think about your typical onboarding process, it is likely it is very much focused on training and instructing your new joiner in the ways of the business they have just joined. But how often do we turn this on its head? How often do we pause to consider not simply what we need our new starter to know… but what we might be able to learn from them?

It is one of the biggest missed opportunities that we have within our organisations, and it is vital that we change this if we want to fully realise our collective potential. How can we do this? It turns out, it’s surprisingly easy…

#1 Talk to our people

Let’s start with the blindingly obvious. How do we find out what skills and experience our employees have? Well, it really is as simple as sitting down and talking to them. Dependent on the size of your workforce, you might want to implement a formal skills audit or task a particular individual or team with collating the information. In smaller organisations though, all that is required is a two-way conversation as part of your induction process.

Do your new joiners have any relevant training or qualifications which might be relevant to your business operations, outside of the core role they have been employed to do? Have they experience in a particular discipline which could enable them to coach others? By obtaining a holistic understanding of everything our employees can bring to the table, and not merely focusing on the job they have been employed to do, we start to realise their true potential.

#2 Provide opportunities for them to share

When it comes to your organisation’s approach to learning and development, if this is currently viewed solely as the remit of your HR department, this needs to change. Businesses operating as total learning organisations share one key thing in common, which is the devolution of the ownership of learning and development right across the business. Empower everyone who works with you to be able to share their knowledge, and reward them for doing so.

Here at Benefex, we run the Benefex University programme – a series of different training modules which every single person in the organisation is able not only to participate in, but also contribute to. Employees are encouraged to run their own training courses, covering both work related but also non work related skills. Sharing knowledge in this way not only upskills employees, it improves communication and facilitates the building of cross functional relationships – and can significantly impact on your business delivery as a result.

#3 Don’t make assumptions

It’s very easy to assume that we know everything about the people who come and work for us each day. In actual fact, most of the time we have barely scratched the surface of all they have to offer. The skills they employ each day in their regular work perhaps comprise 10% of everything they are able to do. By taking the time to get to know our employees, we not only give them the opportunity to realise their full potential… we can enable them to help the wider business do the same.