By Christina Neuhauser, SHRM-SCP
Often, we get so caught up in trying to get through the day that it can be difficult to step back and look for ways to change the routine and shift our focus. Looking for areas to bring our unique skills and ideas to the table at work can be challenging and even scary – especially given the current climate. Even if your office culture provides a safer space for expression and growth, it can be a delicate balancing act between what is expected, what can be questioned, and how you can interject. So, how do you bring more “you” into the workplace?
We all wear different hats and have different areas of expertise. And most of us have talents that are outside the expected from our job descriptions. It is one of the things that make us interesting and individual in our roles as parents, business owners, teachers, students, etc.
One of my personal hidden talents is doodling. I love handwriting, creative lettering, fonts, sketches, cartoons, the brain science behind it and how it makes me feel. So, I look for every opportunity to use those skills. This talent is not related with my career path or educational experience, it’s just something I enjoy. When I noticed that the office had a whiteboard wall that featured monthly birthdays and anniversaries, I asked if it was something I could help populate. Now drawing on the wall is something fun for me to look forward to every month. Co-workers approach me with requests or tell me that an illustration made them smile. You can’t beat that! And it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t volunteer to share my unexpected skill with the office.
Another co-worker has a background in music. Like two degrees worth, and a beautiful singing voice. While that isn’t something easily used on a daily basis around the office, she was able to showcase it during our big office party (obviously, pre-COVID) to much acclaim/applause. What a fabulous experience and culture-building story to tell!
Here are some ways to consider sharing your own unique skills at work:
- Join a committee. Your skills could shine in a large or small group.
- Write something. A blog post, an article, anything to stretch those skills.
- Learn a new skill or develop an existing one. Then tell someone at work about it.
- Teach a class. From crafting to traditional KSAs, I bet someone wants to learn what you know!
- Start a book club. Either on a topic of personal interest or for professional development, there’s always something new to read and discuss.
- Become a mentor. New professionals and seasoned professionals alike can benefit from a new perspective.
- Volunteer. Anytime something comes up that could showcase your skills, jump on it. From singing to doodling, how will they know if you don’t offer to share? And if you make amazing desserts, don’t hesitate to bring those into the office for the next potluck!
Opening yourself up takes courage but bringing more “you” to work can improve employee morale (for you and your co-workers) and provide personal/job satisfaction. Ultimately, being true to who you are and sharing some of your unique skills will benefit you, the company or association that you work for, and the community where you live.