Successful businesses set goals.  Most employees know whether they are meeting company expectations based on important metrics.  They can take the form of sales goals, billable hours, customer problems resolved, deliveries made, or something else entirely.  These metrics help businesses ensure that employees are contributing to the company, but they don’t necessarily ensure the employee is meeting their potential.

How can you tell if an employee is contributing their full potential to the company?  It’s an important question, but there’s no objective measure for this.  In fact, many of your employees may not themselves know if they could contribute more to the company.

Here are three signs that an employee has more to contribute.

They have a giant to-do list 

It’s true that some employees end up with a large to-do list because they’re not getting enough done.  But if you worked with someone who never got anything done, would you rely on them for help?  Most people wouldn’t, and that’s why the least productive people sometimes end up with the least to do.

Most people with giant to-do lists are productive employees who have a hard time saying ‘no’.  As a result, they end up with a long list of tasks from other employees.  And while they may be the best resource for those tasks, those tasks might not be the best use of their time.

If you have an employee who does great work but has a hard time saying no, make sure their supervisor works to insulate them from distractions.  This will ensure that they stay focused on work that generates the most benefit for the company, improving their contribution.  And even if they’re disappointed that they can’t help their co-workers as much as they’d like, they will appreciate the reduced stress from not having a long list of tasks hanging over their head every day they go to work.

They don’t know how they contribute to the bottom line

Sometimes, it’s really easy to draw a line from your job to the company’s profitability.  Salespeople know that each sale leads to higher revenue, for instance.  Sometimes, it’s not so easy.  How do you quantify the value of a customer service call?  How about an office manager’s repeated efforts to get the refrigerator that holds people’s lunch fixed?

It’s important for each employee to be able to tie the work they do back to the bottom line.  First, it helps them prioritize the work that has the biggest impact to the company.  It also helps them identify work they’re doing with little or no value – and hopefully they’ll ask to stop doing it.

Finally, and probably most important, it makes employees feel more secure in their jobs, more valuable to the company, and prouder of the contributions they make to a company.  These factors reduce stress and increase job engagement, which will lead to higher quality work.

Their work quality is falling off…because they are not fulfilled

The biggest contributors to your office most likely enjoy the work they do.  It’s hard to stay engaged in a job when you dislike it – you’re more likely to procrastinate or daydream about the things you’ll do when you finally get off work.

For some people, the most important part about their job is the work they do.  For others, the people they work with are more important.  Others need a clear path for advancement.  Whatever an employee needs to enjoy their time at the office, they need to find it if they’re going to be as productive as they can be.

Sometimes, employees just don’t feel fulfilled because they believe they have the capability to do a lot more than what they are doing now. They may learn and grow at a faster pace than those we’ve had in the past. As we work with our nose to the grindstone we don’t take the time to realize the talents and abilities of our team members as they grow.

Be sure to have career conversations with your employees at least once or twice a year. Check in to see if they feel like they’d like to take on more and what they’d be interested in taking on. They may be ready to fill a gap that you’ve been stressing over filling.

To learn how WingSwept can help your business make better use of technology, call us at 919-460-7011 or email us at