As your team goes about their work and their lives, you will notice big differences in the engagement level of each person depending on what they are doing. As a great manager, you are always looking for what it is that might really engage each team member. They may not be aware of a talent themselves, but they might be telling you anyway if you are watching carefully.
These are often the easiest things for a manager to spot. I have seen people yearn to be managers, yearn to bury themselves in numbers and details or yearn to setup company events, just to name a few.
Great managers are always trying new things on people, testing the waters with different delegations. Sometimes it does not stick and it takes someone a long time to figure out something new and it is painful for both of you. Sometimes, however, the exact opposite happens and someone takes the ball and runs with it so far and so well, that you are both left looking at each other and wondering “what just happened?”. I love it when this happens! The person learns something new in record time. This is a very good sign of a talent revealed.
Plain and simple, this is when something just feels good to someone. But we need to go a level deeper as the hawk-eyed manager in order to get the most out this. Most people will honestly say it feels good to solve problems. Solving problems is not a talent. Solving a certain type of problem is. One tip is to isolate the tense that someone seems to be thinking in when doing something specific. If they are acting like (or actually saying) “when will this be over?” – they are probably not using a talent. If, on the other hand, they are acting like (or actually saying) “when can I do this again?” – There’s a pretty good chance that you have revealed a previously unknown talent.
In the end, when you think you have identified a talent, don’t be afraid to toss aside preconceived notions of who should do what. Great managers don’t treat each person the same. They treat each person the way they want to be and deserve to be treated. They position each person on their team to excel and enjoy their work. These are universal truths that every great manager like you understands.