Table of contents
- Symbolism of Superman and Clark Kent
- Who’s your employee: Clark Kent or Superman?
- How to uncover your employees’ hidden talents
- Summing up
Remember Superman, the man of steel? His alter ego, Clark Kent, worked as a journalist at the Daily Planet newspaper. Clark had a boss who didn’t even know he had the most powerful person working for him. But what if he knew? What if he used Superman’s skills properly? How could Superman help the Daily Planet?
Let’s talk about Superman’s and Clark Kent’s work attitudes and skills and how employers can use hidden workforce talents to improve the business.
Symbolism of Superman and Clark Kent
Clark Kent is Superman’s alter ego. He is an idealist and believes that as a reporter, he can create as much or even more positive change as Superman — only with the power of words. Clark often stays invisible to others. He believes no one will suspect him when he approaches a crime scene because he’s a journalist, so it’s part of his job. However, there’s more to this. Clark admits that Superman is not suited to doing all things.
Superman can solve many problems with his fists. But Clark, being a super man, also wants to draw attention to critical global issues (inequality, unfair politics, environmental challenges).
I want the name of this flying whatchamacallit to go with the Daily Planet like bacon and eggs, franks and beans, death and taxes, politics and corruption. — Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet
A similar thing happens in the workplace. Employees have different views and powers that help the company build the future. However, some organizations value their Supermen more than their Clark Kents. For example, business leaders demand more from new employees during leadership meetings, like being more super than regular. However, the only real difference between Clark Kent and Superman is the glasses.
Glasses are a symbol of how your employees see your company’s goals and culture. Are business leaders and HR managers ready to take off their glasses and help the Clarks of the world see opportunities to become Supermen?
Think about it: Clarks often leave a company because they’ve lost sight of their role in the organization, or maybe they recognize the possibility of being Superman elsewhere. Do you give your Clarks a chance to succeed?
Both Clark and Superman have strengths: the power of the word (Clark Kent) and the power of strength (Superman). However, they both have their Kryptonite, a.k.a. skills gaps you should consider and help them develop.
Try not to compare your Clarks with your Supermen. Instead, look for ways to clarify your vision and stop the leader that prevents others from seeing and following your company’s culture.
Let’s inspect Clark Kent’s and Superman’s work style, habits, and values to give real-life job and career advice for recruiters, HR managers, and employers.
Who’s your employee: Clark Kent or Superman?
Clark Kent gets his first Daily Planet gig using his Superman connections. However, Clark is so bad on the job (distracted by being Superman) that he gets fired. Because the newspaper editor doesn’t remember his name, though, Clark is able to apply for another job at the paper years later.
To get the job, Clark keeps turning boring assignments into scoops through the presence of Superman.
Clark Kent positions himself at work as a clumsy person who can get into trouble to avoid suspicion among colleagues. However, he provides cheerful and easy-to-understand stories for the paper and is a good reporter.
So what’s the difference between Superman and his alter ego, Clark Kent?
Superman’s workplace habits
- Absenteeism will be forgiven if there’s impressive output. Despite his annoying tendency to disappear when a catastrophe or dramatic rescue unfolds, Clark Kent’s periodic interviews and reliable relationship with Superman make up for his disappearances. It’s implicitly accepted by many corporations that absence doesn’t mean a poor work attitude if a person brings benefits to the business.
- Work on tasks that no one else can do or wants to do. Some companies hire people without experience if they aren’t afraid of challenges at work. For example, the Daily Planet hired Clark because of his connection to Superman. Although those hired to fill these jobs won’t save the world from approaching asteroids with superpowers, they have Clark Kent’s job potential, meaning developing the skills of Superman ones.
- Be a multitasker. In most cases, Clark Kent has to become Superman while he’s still a journalist. Following the Superman example, employers should value the ability of their workforce to manage time, be punctual, and meet deadlines.
Clark Kent’s workplace habits
- Be prepared for emotional work. Having the right attitude around clients with whom an employee doesn’t really want to do business is so-called “emotional work.” It involves not showing the true feelings and emotions an employee is currently experiencing. Clark Kent cleverly uses emotional work to hide his identity as Superman. Kent, however, is gentle, even modest. He could just as easily be working at a fast-food restaurant, continuously reciting “Good day!” and giving frozen smiles.
- Add hidden skills to the CV. Imagine if Clark Kent listed “cloaked superhero” and “kryptonite researcher” among his skills. If his boss found out, he would use all of Superman’s hidden talents. As an HR manager or business leader, it’s essential to pay attention to the wishes of your employees and what they would like to develop in their careers. Encourage employees, help them improve their skills, and show them skills you’d like them to improve.
- Be a master of camouflage. Clark Kent is simply socially invisible. In most respects, he has an entirely different image than Superman. He squats, hunches, wears glasses that cover his face, has a different hairstyle, speaks in a slightly higher tone of voice, and doesn’t have as much confidence as Superman. Yet, despite his crime-solving skills, no one looks at him and makes comparisons to Superman, which leads us to how to find hidden talents in shy or unconfident employees.
How to uncover your employees’ hidden talents
To build a strong team, you need to identify the potential of your employees and then help them develop their hidden strengths. Here are some ways to discover hidden talents and turn potential strengths into actual skills for the future:
Turn a compliment into an interview
When an employee does a great job, don’t just praise them but identify the strengths of their achievements and ask them to share the process. This might lead to new ideas that can be transferred to new tasks or even to a new position or a promotion. You can even ask employees to make a presentation about the techniques they used and explain them to others.
Learn how your employees think
Performance evaluations are properly focused on achieving goals and other measurable indicators of success. However, such achievements often hide the way of thinking characteristic of the individual who made the success possible. Describe these habits of mind during the subsequent employee evaluation. For example, notice that one of your employees, Clark, continuously collects all relevant data, carefully studies it, and decides to follow the facts rather than try to adapt them to a previous idea. Defining Clark’s contributions will show Clark that he is understood and appreciated.
Find out reasons for benefits
Good managers know what their employees like to do (what tasks they like, what projects motivate them). Great managers find out why someone has Superman’s benefits at work and whom the project requires: Clark Kent or Superman. Such knowledge helps the manager strategically connect employees with projects, considering both the work and a person’s skills, hobbies, and even temperament — not just the job post. For example, Clark might love a customer feedback project not because he enjoys working with surveys but because of his strong affinity for the product being evaluated. Therefore, his next task should be related to that particular product, not another product.
Ask about employees’ dreams
Ask Clark what career he could pursue if he could do something completely different. For example, if Clark says he always wanted to be a translator, ask him if he would like to work with international clients. Having a little taste of his dream in his current position, Clark is more likely to feel fulfilled and that the job is relevant to him.
Treating each employee as a wellspring of talent allows you to find gems. It also makes you more open-minded and flexible for your employees.
The purpose of this blog post is to make you look at your team differently. Often, people come to an organization with clearly defined responsibilities and duties. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s all they can do. They may not have super speed or heat-ray vision, but they might contribute to your organization, and if you’re not looking at them, you might be missing out.
Meet with your team and talk to each person about what they like about their job and what else they could contribute to the organization. Of course, when you ask someone to do extra work, not everyone will want to do this. However, when your employees are engaged, they are more willing to contribute to the organization. This is your opportunity to change someone’s position entirely and maximize the strengths of your people. Doesn’t it make sense to assess your team and find their strengths?
The smartPeople talent marketplace will help you organize all your data on employees and see their current competencies, skills gaps, and development opportunities. Using smartPeople properly, you’ll be able to come up with an effective skill management plan, upskill your workforce, and build their agile career pathing.