How to Tap into Your Team’s TalentsThe people who comprise your organization will determine your success. In an economy where competitive edge relies on skills and knowledge, today’s leaders need to know how to find and unleash their team's talents.

“While many managers assume their team members would like to work less, the dirty little secret of corporate America is that many people would actually like more challenging jobs,” says Laura Vanderkam, contributor to CBS MoneyWatch.

A survey by Lee Hecht Harrison found an interesting trend: Sixty-two percent of respondents say they often feel underutilized in their jobs.

It could be because they are overqualified, says Vanderkam.

USA Today has even reported on a study led by Ohio University economist Richard Vedder. The study found nearly half of working Americans with college degrees are in jobs that don’t really need them.

Vedder says the problem is the stock of college graduates in the workforce has grown larger than the number of jobs requiring a college degree. For example, he says 15 percent of taxi drivers in 2010 had bachelor’s degrees versus one percent in 1970.

Even if you're leading an overqualified crew, you're best served by trying to match people with work that requires as much of their brainpower as possible. Unchallenged workers are often unhappy workers, and unhappy workers leave when they get a better offer.

She shares some ideas to find and use your team's talents.

Find Your Team's Talents

Get to know your team. “In school, no one has to do their extra-curricular activities, so these side projects often give insights into the activities people enjoy for their own sake,” says Vanderkam.  For example, someone who wrote for their college newspaper might enjoy writing or editing, while someone who planned parties or events might have a talent for staging them.

Keep a list of projects that would be fun and ask your team members to add their own. Then, Vanderkam suggests, pull these projects off the list and assign them to team members with talents you’ve identified in that area.

Say yes if a team member suggests a project that they would find meaningful or interesting. “Chances are he or she is itching for a challenge,” says Vanderkam.

Give people more authority with projects and hold them accountable. Vanderkam says, “Real responsibility—and the chance to fail or succeed– tends to bring out the hard worker in people.”

Work with your team to improve their skills. For example, if someone produces a lot of content, match them up with a more experienced writer or editor for feedback sessions.

People need leaders who understand and identify what motivates them, what matters most, and their strongest abilities. Leaders who can tap into their team’s hidden (and often valuable) talents and abilities will witness extraordinary results and have happier, more engaged employees.

How did you find your team’s talents?