When it comes to competitive advantage, there is no greater asset than that of a talented, agile workforce able to move faster than market expectation. It’s the ideal state most companies dream of, yet few achieve it. This might be due to the limiting belief that such a desirable future state would require the hiring of all new talent, that the future lies in skills that exist outside the current corporate talent pool.

However, that’s not true. The truth is, there are plenty of ways to tap into the untapped potential and performance abilities of the people currently within your ranks.

Ready to take your existing workforce to the next level? Here’s how:

  • Know your people – It might sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many employers miss opportunities that lie right beneath their noses. Your lowly mailroom employee might be a crushing coder who could change your digital landscape. That marketing assistant might have incredible business savvy and speak four languages. Your Finance people could have a sharper grasp of social than you know, your HR team could have leadership skills beyond your understanding. Get to know your people, and you can start to use these advantages for your own current and future gain.
  • Design pathways to better performance – The best way to create the desired future state is to design the organization to evolve to it. You should be designing your organization for what it will look like 25 years or more from now, so each position should have tasks that help the business now as well as stretch goals that evolve both the person and the business to the next level. Always build the present with the future in mind.
  • Encourage continuing education – It pays to never stop learning, and you should incentivize your employees to stay curious. As a matter of fact, you should pay for it (or at least help.) MBA courses, coding, marketing, social media, user interface design, new languages, economics, trade policies — if the course has application to your current and/or future goals, it should be part of their benefits package. All those skills will come in handy.
  • Give rewards for innovation – The best ideas usually come from inside, and a culture of innovation is where they’re constantly generated. Build a “try anything” mentality among your people and reward for ideas, both great and not-so-great. Also, flatten the levels so anyone in any position can position the Next Best Thing. It will send a steady stream of ideas your way as well as help you utilize the skills and thought leadership that lies within your ranks.
  • Challenge your people – Continually tap into the creativity and drive of your people with constant innovation and skill challenges. Stretch their minds, give them bigger problems to solve, and see how they handle it. Lack of perceived future opportunity is one of the main reasons people leave, so show them a bright, challenging future with your company by consistently challenging them to learn and grow. They’ll stay challenged, and you’ll stay ahead of the market. Also, constant challenges ensure everyone is trained and agile when a market opportunity or real business crisis occurs.

The best way to unleash capacity in any workforce is to create a sharp, innovative, talented group of employees passionate about their role within the company. With these tips, you’ll be able to unlock hidden potential in your existing workforce and create agility you never knew you had, the key to expanded profits and unlimited potential.