Innate vs Acquired Qualities in the Workplace |

The characteristics and abilities each person brings to the workplace are a unique blend of innate abilities and acquired skills. Innate abilities are the characteristics we were born with, whereas acquired skills are what we’ve learned to do through teaching and experience. Understanding the balance between these two qualities can lead to more effective team building, leadership, and personal career development.

Understanding innate abilities

As Merriam-Webster defines it, innate means ‘belonging to the essential nature of something’. Our innate abilities have always been an essential part of us, they are our natural talents and predispositions. We may have refined these innate abilities over time, and may even have learned to fight against some of them if they’re holding us back.

The innate ability of any one person is a significant influence on their work preferences, leadership style, and interpersonal interactions and relationships. This means it’s important to recognize just what those innate abilities are and utilize them. When we recognize a person’s innate abilities, we see and value them for what they bring to the table, enhancing their job satisfaction. We can assign them tasks that are best suited to them, allowing them to flourish and contribute to a positive work environment.

Understanding acquired skills

Acquired skills are those skills that we have picked up and honed through experience, education, and training. They’re the sort of thing you can easily glean from reading a resume, including technical knowledge, language proficiency, and even leadership abilities - yes, some people are ‘natural leaders’, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things they can still work on.

People often lean on their acquired skills when applying for jobs or looking to advance their careers. It’s easy to demonstrate acquired skills through certifications, examples, and testing. Organizations can benefit from acquired skill sets through understanding which acquired skills are required in different roles and functions, and providing training opportunities for employees to learn more and further develop their skills. As shown in a study published in the International Journal of Training Research, training is ‘linked to job satisfaction via affective commitment and job performance’.

Balancing innate and acquired qualities for workplace success 

To succeed in the workplace, managers and individuals need to understand what is an innate ability and what is an acquired skill. With this knowledge and understanding of the difference between the two, we put ourselves in a stronger position to create strategies for development. We can get a picture of a person’s innate abilities and acquired skills using psychometric tests and by gathering feedback through self-reporting and 360-degree feedback from colleagues.

The insight we gather with these techniques can help us form tailored development plans that balance innate ability with acquired skills. These should be matched to a person’s career goals, which may have become more evident through testing - revealing their innate abilities may show their potential fit for particular roles, but they may need to expand their acquired skill set to get there.

Successful workplaces value both innate ability and acquired skills. They don’t just rely upon what people are naturally able to do, but put in place structures to build on those innate abilities and encourage employees to pursue continuous learning and development.

Assessing innate abilities and acquired skills 

To understand the innate abilities and acquired skills within our workforce, we can turn to a few different means of assessment.

Thomas’ people science platform was developed to help hiring teams and managers assess innate abilities. With aptitude and behavioral tests, Thomas’s platform can unearth the personality traits of employees and new hires that influence their workplace behavior and preferences. This information is invaluable in making the right hire and improving team dynamics.

Acquired skills can be assessed through performance reviews, certifications, and portfolio reviews. This should be done regularly to understand an employee’s growth and development over time, ensuring that they’re on the right track to help them meet their goals and contribute to company success.

The role of leadership in nurturing talent

Leaders need to take the reins when it comes to nurturing talent. Whether it’s creating opportunities for employees to use their innate abilities to support the company or leaning on the acquired skills within their teams, leaders are essential to making the best of the balance of qualities within everyone. By using their knowledge of their teams’ capabilities and assigning tasks and projects that suit each person’s strengths, leaders can benefit from better engagement, increased productivity, and more satisfied employees.

Leaders also need to make employee development happen. They should work with their team members on their development plans, discussing their strengths and weaknesses and how they can grow to meet company and personal goals. Where training is needed, leaders should support their teams in finding workshops and certifications.

Leveraging Thomas’ expertise

Thomas can support with both innate ability expertise and refinement of acquired skills. Our suite of tools and services can be used to identify innate abilities and how they fit work within a team structure, and we can provide tailored training programs to enhance acquired skills.

This knowledge can be used to build high-performing teams who are motivated to help their organization succeed. Carefully utilizing the unique blend of natural strengths offered by a person’s innate abilities with the more flexible breadth of their acquired skills is beneficial for employees, who feel valued and accomplished, and organizational growth.

Embracing a holistic approach to professional development

Innate abilities and acquired skills should work in synergy, helping a person progress to meet their personal and company goals. We gain the most from this when we understand the innate and acquired qualities we and our teams have to offer, refining them and using them in conjunction with each other for maximum effectiveness.

Speak to a Thomas expert today and see how our platform can support your organization in understanding and utilizing innate ability and acquired skills. Our assessment tools and training programs recognize the value of both to your organization and can steer you toward using them for continued growth and success.

Individuals and teams who understand and develop their innate abilities and acquired skills put themselves in the best position to succeed in an ever-evolving workplace. They’re ready to adapt and keep learning, so don’t overlook these crucial characteristics and the benefits they can bring to your workplace.