Capp’s five-step approach to strengths-based recruitment

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February 2013
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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Strengths-based Selection in Summary

Posted by: Alex Linley & Nicky Garcea

 

We’ve celebrated the launch of our new Strengths Selector website with a series of blogs that address each of the five steps of strengths-based recruitment.

 

Here’s an easy-reference summary of all the best bits:

 

Attraction – it’s where it all begins. Jamie Betts and Celine Jacques started us off with a look at the missing link between attraction and assessment, before Jamie turned his attention to the talent that lies waiting to be discovered by graduate recruiters going off-piste - a message that applies to any recruiter who’s trying to fish from a busy recruitment pond.

 

The Situational Strengths Test is the perfect solution for sifting large volumes of candidates and solving some of the challenges of modern recruitment, ensuring that your assessment methodologies are recruiting the right people for the right roles, as Celine Jacques and I explored in two of our blogs on this topic.

 

How do you prepare for a strengths-based interview? This was the topic of one of our very popular blogs from Celine Jacques, who concluded that ultimately you need to ‘ just be yourself’. Then, bringing his own unique brand of personal insight to the discussion, Jamie Betts shared his journey from competencies to strengths, and Nicky Garcea reflected on why competency-based interviews miss talented graduates.

 

With the assessment centre our next focus, Jamie Betts questioned why bespoke assessment centres always feel the same, concluding that it’s because the same 4 or 5 generic competencies are assessed time and again. Time for something different with the Strengths Assessment Centre.

 

Welcome on-board is the message that every potential candidate hopes to hear. Emma Trenier dreamed a dream on what it would take in getting on-boarding right, while Jamie Betts shared how ineffective on-boarding harms business performance.

 

Across each of these five steps of strengths-based recruitment, we’ve sought to share our experiences and deliver our insights.

 

We wanted to show you why strengths-based selection is being adopted as the best way to get the right people into the right roles. We hope we’ve succeeded – and thanks for reading.

 

To learn more about how Capp can help your organisation in each of these areas, visit our Strengths Selector website.

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Getting On-boarding Right

Posted by: Emma Trenier, Consulting Psychologist, Capp

 

With BA recruiting 2, 500 new employees last year, it was a prime time for them to discover what makes on-boarding a success. Their research discovered that 90% of employees make a decision to stay with an organisation in the first 6 months, the failure of a successful transition costs between 1.5 and 5 times annual salary, and Generation Y expect to make 5-7 career changes in their life, compared to Baby Boomers who only wanted to make 2-3 career changes.

 

Clearly, with the coming trend for more frequent career changes and the high cost of getting it wrong, it’s getting more and more important for companies to get on-boarding right.

 

I’m prone to a little day dreaming, so let me describe how I would like to be welcomed ‘on board’ in an ideal world…

 

Before I arrive on my first day I am already excited. I have shared the freebies I received with my friends and family who already think this company is phenomenal and I am the luckiest woman they know.

 

On day 1, my manager meets me and gives me a tour of the building, introduces me to a number of my colleagues and gives me my laptop and phone, already sorted. I spend time speaking 1:1 to one with a handful of colleagues, finding out what they do and who I can go to for what. I am tasked to discover my strengths overnight with an online questionnaire and bring the results back in the morning.

 

On day 2, my manager and I talk through my Realise2 strengths profile – what makes me tick and what I find draining. This is enjoyable and insightful as I discover she is as keen as I am for me to be my best self at work.  I spend the day satiating my curiosity about the company’s culture through conversation, watching (non-cheesy) videos online and meeting one of the senior leaders for a thought-provoking and honest Q&A. By the end of the day I LIKE this company and I feel as if they LIKE me.

 

On day 3, my manager gives me my first assignment that plays to my strengths. I am delighted to be given a chance to show what I can do as I prepare to get started. I’m now excited to be working here, knowing that they want me to bring my best self to work, and that they want me to succeed through using my strengths. This company’s culture is all about helping me to do what I do best and love to do each day. It’s the perfect match!

 

I’ll end my dream here, although ‘on-boarding’ will continue for the next six months as I develop my skills in new areas, work closely with partners who show me the ropes and receive feedback from colleagues as I venture into new terrain.

 

It doesn’t sound so difficult, so why is this not every new employee’s experience?

 

For a start, companies don’t recognise the financial impact of getting on-boarding right.  As a result, managers are not given the right resources and don’t realise that it is they themselves who can make or break each new employee’s spirit and resolve to stay.

 

The sad result, when they get it wrong, is that talented people prepare to leave within the first 6 months and everyone’s a loser.

 

In contrast, get on-boarding right, and everyone is well on the way to being a winner.

 

Strengths On-boarding is a key way to achieve this, by celebrating the best of why you recruited someone, then putting them to work by doing what they do best and love to do every day. That’s the way to love Mondays!

 

Strengths On-boarding is part of Strengths Selector, Capp’s five steps to strengths-based recruitment. Find out more about Strengths On-boarding here.

 

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The Strengths Project: Strengthening Tea Plantation Workers in Alipurduar, West Bengal

Posted by: Alex Linley & Avirupa Bhaduri

 

In her first post of 2013, Avirupa updates us on the New Year celebrations in Kolkata, while also recognising how the horrendous rape in Delhi, which had made the international news, also had its own reverberations in Kolkata.

 

Avirupa then goes on to share her experiences of working with tea planters, enabling them to realise more of their strengths and apply these to the pressing challenge of getting better medical provision for their work. To see how she did this, read on…

 

“A New Year is ushered with celebration in Kolkata. Park Street, the erstwhile posh commercial hub of the Raj, retains it’s charm even now, each year it is decorated with fairy lights, people throng the road at midnight, cars honk loudly, drunk party crowds erupt with celebration, confetti, cheer, greetings and the like.

 

This year though the mood was less cheerful, a couple of week earlier a girl in Delhi was brutally raped, and left to die, following which the youth of India took the capital by siege demanding justice, safety for women. The repercussions were felt in Kolkata too. People were scared to venture late at night.

 

In fact, the Delhi rape case had made a mark at every sphere of life, I was surprised to see the concern in Mousumi, Arpita and Sharmila. Mousumi expressed deep anxiety, since she was the mother of a 9 year old girl. Women and safety was all we could talk in the 1st week’s meeting of the New Year. I was interested to know their take on the safety of women in Shiriti. The answer came as a surprise.

 

Although Shiriti is a slum, alcoholism, petty politics, clashes between groups were not uncommon, in fact, when I visited Shiriti as an outsider in the initial days, I felt uneasy. However the women said they still felt safe within the community than outside, even though the vices exist, and they make sure to reach home by evening. They knew that they would not be assaulted by local boys, rather they said it was more unsafe for young boys, as the chance of being involved in drug, alchohol, gang war is more likely.

 

I found the answer pretty intriguing, wondering where their strength of faith came from; perhaps a sense of community, a social safety net was active.

 

Next week I was scheduled to leave for Alipurduar, for the last of the leadership workshops. The NGO project was to wrap up by this month. They’ll resume their good work once the project renewal is sanctioned. As I boarded the train I felt a little sad, as I was getting attached to the workshops. Anyway the train left Howrah station at 10p.m. It was to reach Alipurduar, the eastern border district of West Bengal by noon.

 

Our session was to begin from 2p.m. on the 1st day. We woke up at 8a.m. to find the train stalled at Maldah, a station which we were supposed to cross at 4a.m. Finally the train left Maldah at 9a.m. We were much tensed as the delegates would reach the venue from several places; the whole time during our journey was spent on co-ordination, battling a terrible mobile network problem.

 

I was delighted to find the strengths of Detail and Efficacy in my colleague, who managed to keep the organiser abreast of our situation and all the time assuring of a great workshop, whenever we reached them. We reached Alipurduar at 6p.m. A car was waiting at the station; we drove for 20min after which we reached the forest checkpost of Buxa Tiger reserve. Our venue was inside the Tiger Reserve, at No. 28 Forest Basti.

 

We had to take special permission from the ranger as entry was restricted after 6p.m. I was tensed as the car sped through the only motor-able road inside pitch dark forest, all the while the boy who was our escort kept telling stories of how he, and his friends and family have encountered herds of wild elephants, and sometimes even tigers!

 

Anyway we reached a clearing amidst the forest braving the jungle and I felt relieved to see lights and hear human voices. As we got down we saw 30 delegates sitting and waiting for us in the cold. There was electricity, but due to low voltage we could hardly see each other’s faces. The organiser held a small ceremony to felicitate us with locally made shawls.

 

We had to start immediately, so I began with the concept of introduction by strength. I briefly explained what strength is and introduced myself with my strengths, and asked my colleagues to do so, followed by the delegates.

 

The delegates this time were all tea plantation workers from local tea estates. They are a unique community, their problems and even their ethnicity is different from all other under-privileged people that I have worked so far. The hill people have traditionally been considered “other” by the majority of Bengalis’ and vice versa. So a lot of time was spent in breaking the ice.

 

It was late and we were tired after the journey but as night progressed we found ourselves in conversation, over a lot of issues. There were a big group of youth, who were quite enthusiastic about accepting new ideas. They were most responsive when I talked about strengths. Then I talked to them how in other workshops people initially skeptic about the idea have later realised the strength of strengths.

 

I thought of implementing what worked best last time, i.e. staging a skit performance, to mock tackle a real issue (unavailability of medical facility in the tea gardens) by banking on group strengths. This time also 4 groups were created, given time to discuss and form a strengths bank, following which they will stage a plausible solution to convince the managers/owners to give them their rightful medical provision.

 

This worked wonderfully well, each group tried their best and it was heart-warming to watch their pent up anger frustration being given a voice, with logic, earnestness and resilience. After the performance spontaneous animated discussions followed which continued till dinner was announced and spilled over.

 

A number of young men and women came up and asked about Capp and my role. It was then that I once again found the conviction to spread the message of strength, seeing how it impacts and changes the lives of all people.”

 

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The Careers Blog – How to Crack Strengths-based Interviews

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

Student Careers and Skills at the University of Warwick have long been at the forefront of equipping students for their future careers, helping them to prepare for interviews and build the employability skills that will make a difference throughout their working lives.

 

We were particularly pleased, therefore, to see Anne Wilson’s great blog on How to Crack Strengths-based Interviews.

 

Anne’s post on The Careers Blog name-checks Capp clients Ernst & Young, Nestlé, Barclays Bank and Standard Chartered Bank as some of the leading graduate recruiters now using strengths-based recruitment to assess and select their graduate talent.

 

Kudos to Anne Wilson for a great blog, which we thought readers of The Capp Blog would also appreciate. You can read Anne’s blog here.

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Get Those Knees Up! The Capp Stair Rush Challenge for BCH

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

Knees up, knees up – and not, for once, in the sense of a good, old drinking party with a sing-song! No, this knees up is of a quite different kind…

 

The Focused Four from the Capp Team have signed up for climbing the 322 stairs of The Cube in Birmingham, in support of the Stair Rush Challenge for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

 

On Saturday 2 March, the Focused Four of Ryan Bodinnar, Gurpal Minhas, Emma Trenier, and myself will see our knees creaking and our chests heaving as we reach for the skies, 322 stairs later.

 

We’re doing so to raise much-needed funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital, following on from the £25,500 we raised in 2010-11 for the Children’s Heart Appeal.

 

You can sponsor the Capp Team here – thank you! – and help us reach our fundraising target of £500.

 

Thanks for your support – your messages of encouragement will be warmly received in the Comment section below.

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Don’t Forget Your Work Partners this Valentine’s – Financial Mail Women’s Forum

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

With Valentine’s Day here, Nicky Garcea shares her thoughts on complementary partnerships in this latest post on the Financial Mail Women’s Forum.

 

“It’s not just your personal relationships that need a little love on Valentines Day. As we spend so much of our time at work, the matches, partnerships and bonds we spark up there are just as important…”

 

Click here to read the rest of what Nicky has to say.

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Graduate Attraction: Going Off-piste

Posted by: Jamie Betts, Principal Consultant, Capp

 

Something rather odd is happening. Despite a near record high in graduate unemployment, many graduate recruiters find it challenging to attract the very best candidates for their schemes. This reported candidate shortage doesn’t tally with the reality of the graduate job market. With over one million young people looking for work, what’s really going on?

 

If you speak to students, tutors, and careers service professionals outside of Oxbridge and the Russell Group, you’ll soon notice a trend: they are largely ignored by the bulk of prestigious graduate employers. What then happens is that frantic efforts are simultaneously expended by many employers on the ‘top 10′ UK universities, and particularly Oxbridge.

 

This creates a sharp division. If you attend a top university, graduate employers are falling over each other as they try to attract your attention – attending your careers fairs, lavishing student associations with sponsorship, and hosting events with free drinks to entice you along. Careers services are overwhelmed with employers wanting air time with their students.

 

If, however, you are unfortunate enough attend a university in the ‘lower 90%’ bracket, you’d be lucky to have a decent employer attending a single careers fair, let alone lavish you with sponsorship and events. The UK’s top few universities produce a finite number of graduates each year, which goes some way to explain why many graduate employers find it challenging to attract all the talent they need.

 

This isn’t the only problem. Even in attempting to attract the best talent from the top universities, many graduate employers follow a rigid cyclical timetable. This makes sense on one level, because graduate recruitment does operate in an annual cycle. But it also means that everyone is trying to attract the same finite pool of talent at exactly the same time. Slightly crazy.

 

Graduate employers who find it challenging to attract the best talent may enjoy greater success in breaking from their traditional cycle.

 

Don’t just attend the careers fairs with everyone else. Instead, build relationships with specific faculties, host independent events during the quieter months, think creatively about what you can offer undergraduates at each stage in their academic life.

 

And, importantly, ask the careers service what you can do for them, rather than what they can do for you – you may be surprised at their response.

 

Perhaps above all else, remember that a wealth of young talent exists outside the Russell Group. You’ve just got to be open to finding it.

 

Strengths Attraction is the first step in Strengths Selector, Capp’s five steps to strengths-based recruitment.

 

 

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Happy Chinese New Year!

Posted by: Alex Linley & Nicky Garcea

 

This Sunday, 10 February, welcomes in the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Snake.

 

May we take this opportunity to wish all of our colleagues, clients and contacts – especially those across Asia – a very prosperous and fulfilling Chinese New Year.

 

To celebrate the Chinese New Year at Capp, we conducted a thoroughly unscientific straw poll of the Capp team, to see which Realise2 strength would be most attributed to each of the Chinese astrological signs.

 

For this, we used the descriptions available at Chinese Zodiac. Any psychometrician will immediately recognise that these descriptions would have very low or non-existent internal consistency reliability. But hey, we’re just working from different epistemological bases – and let’s remember that the Chinese astrological signs were around well before Lee Cronbach (1916-2001; the originator of Cronbach’s alpha to measure internal consistency reliability).

 

Here are the strengths that what we found might be most typical of each of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs:

 

Rat – Rapport Builder, Curiosity

Ox – Drive, Work Ethic

Tiger – Courage, Persuasion

Rabbit – Relationship Deepener, Compassion

Dragon – Action, Competitive

Snake – Judgement, Personalisation

Horse – Personal Responsibility, Catalyst

Goat – Incubator, Creativity

Monkey – Humour, Adventure

Rooster – Order, Authenticity

Dog – Empathic Connection, Persistence

Pig – Pride, Growth

 

Do you recognise these strengths in yourself, relative to your Chinese zodiac sign?

 

Let us know what you think by sharing your Comments below. And have a very Happy Chinese New Year as you do so!

 

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From Competencies to Strengths: A Personal Journey

Posted by: Jamie Betts, Principal Consultant, Capp

 

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about strengths-based assessment is that no-one thought of it sooner. But ten years ago when I was starting my career, competencies where ‘the big thing’, while strengths-based assessment was a mere glint in the eye of a few ‘crazy’ academics.

 

A lot can happen in a decade. Looking back on our unshakeable faith in the effectiveness of competencies now, it looks like a hazy and confused dream. Competencies became an article of faith, upon which no criticism would be brooked. Line managers huffed and puffed, feeling restricted and frustrated by competency-based interviewing and its endless probes.

 

OK, line managers said, so someone has done something in the past – that doesn’t mean they enjoyed doing it, won’t that impact performance? But we didn’t listen. We didn’t care – we’d seen some old research that competency-based assessment worked, and we’d be damned if we were going to be told otherwise.

 

Well, that was then. And much has changed. The saturation of competency-based questioning, and the tendency of organisations to all measure the same half dozen core competencies, led to the ridiculous situation where candidates reeled off fully rehearsed answers before you’d even finished the question.

 

Any candidate who understood the format, or had been coached in any way by a careers service, was going to simply reel off the examples – collaboration, working well under pressure, dealing with change…

 

And so, what started as a well-intended assessment approach (to measure people based on their past behaviour) descended into farce. Interviewing became a bizarre ritualistic act. Candidates felt frustrated at being cornered by specific past-behavioural questioning and a barrage of probes.

 

They lied, they acted, they rehearsed – passing a competency-based interview became a measure of how convincingly you could reel off the same half dozen stories without sounding too bored. It didn’t really matter if the stories were true or not, since you had plenty of time to rehearse them in your head and cover your bases when the inevitable probes came your way.

 

Thank God, then, for strengths. Just at the moment when the thought of another competency-based interview had some of us reaching for the valium, along came a methodology that just… made sense. Line managers got it. Candidates loved it. And assessment experts breathed a huge sigh of relief.

 

Strengths are the future of assessment. They synergy of ‘can do’ and ‘love to do’ leads to peak performance. And as competencies start to fade into the twilight, please allow a few of us to break open the champagne  – after thousands of competency-based interviews, we deserve it.

 

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