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March 2013
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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Overcoming Challenges, Maximising Unrealised Strengths

Posted by: Avirupa Bhaduri & Alex Linley

 

This month Avirupa shares some of her personal insights about how she has been using her own strengths and strengthspotting skills to help her through the challenging time of moving house and getting everything organised. Everything worked out well in the end when she looked to maximise her unrealised strengths and draw on the strengths of the Shiriti Women’s Sewing Co-operative to help her…

 

“February started with an exceptionally hectic schedule, personally. I have recently shifted home and there are a million things that needed attention and tons of new things that needed to be adjusted to. This proved to be a major stressor, and was seriously affecting my relations with my family. So I decided to sit down and try to apply Realise2 to see if I can turn this into a positive experience.

 

I know I like adventure, I am creative, I have empathic connection. My weakness is order, lack of planfulness, being low on detail. Next, instead of learned behaviour I tried to focus on my unrealised strengths in this context. I asked my daughter what she misses most about me these days.

 

Back came the reply “You always smiled hugged and kissed me every time after you scolded me for my mistakes, and you soon forgot all about it, when anything went wrong! Now you are always angry and complaining.” Bounceback was instantly on my mind. I hugged and kissed her for that!

 

I asked my husband next. He surprised me by saying I am less thankful and optimistic these days, which is unusual of me. He also said something interesting, he said “You know you are creative but do you know that you are a great manager, you know how to get things done by people and you know exactly who is best for what.” Drive and connector that’s me!!! It brought a smile to my face.

 

Armed with this illumination, I took it on me to start small to improve my life for myself and my family. I had a long conversation with my husband about the good things of this decision, about sharing chores and making work done systematically. He is a time optimiser and super-great in order, so he agreed to complement me in this regard. My optimism was once more restored.

 

I had a number of pending odd jobs, that was weighing down on me, one of which was making curtains for our new home. Suddenly I thought why not give it to Mousumi & Sharmila, instead of a tailor shop. It will be a win-win situation for both of us!

 

Next week at Shiriti I came with my bundle of fabric, and my friends happily lapped up the opportunity. We had a hearty chatter about my new home, their cheerful curiosity got transmitted to me, and soon I found myself talking happily about my plans for the time ahead. The week after, my curtains were ready, on time and looking lovely.

 

I paid them their wages after much argument on the due amount. They charged ridiculously low. I used my “strict teacher” voice to persuade them to take what is rightful and fair. As I walked back home with my curtain packet in hand, my heart was full of content and hope for the days to come, and I was thankful for the knowledge of strengths which had helped me see this.”

 

 

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Strengthening Your Graduate Employability

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

Our partnership with the University of Warwick, and particularly Student Careers and Skills, continues to go from strength to strength.

 

In a recent blog post for Student Careers and Skills, Laura Firmin, Warwick Sociology graduate and now Capp Intern, shares her experiences of how getting to understand her strengths more, particularly with a debrief from a qualified Strengths Practitioner, helped her to enhance how she tells her story at interview and build her graduate employability prospects.

 

Laura’s post on The Careers Blog begins:

 

“We recently ran a piece on how to crack Strengths-based interviews as an increasing number of high-profile employers are adopting a Strengths-based approach to graduate recruitment. But understanding more about the Strengths psychology can help you even before you submit that application. Laura Firmin, a Warwick Sociology graduate, explains in this post how she has personally benefitted from completing a Realise 2 Strengths profile and discussing her profile with a qualified practitioner…”

 

To continue reading and find out more about Laura’s experiences and insights, see The Careers Blog.

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Recruiting the Best Baristas

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

We’ve been delivering strengths-based recruitment for exciting new coffee shop chain, Harris + Hoole. Here, you can see this project featured in The Recruiter.

 

When Harris + Hoole wanted to ensure they were recruiting the right people to deliver the right customer experience – as well as, of course, making great coffee – they knew that recruiting people for what they did well, and loved to do, was the best route to success.

 

As you can see in The Recruiter article, Harris + Hoole are recruiting the best baristas (and other roles, including team members, team leaders and shop managers) through Capp’s Situational Strengths Test and Strengths-based Interview, two of the five steps from Strengths Selector, our five steps to strengths-based recruitment.

 

We’re delighted to be working with Harris + Hoole in this way, delivering performance through strengths.

 

We wish them every future success, with happy customers enjoying great coffee, served by positive and high-performing people.

 

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Apprenticeships and Internships: A Personal View

Posted by: Laura Firmin, Intern, Capp

 

An introductory note from Alex Linley: Laura is a graduate of the University of Warwick and joined us as an intern at the beginning of the year, quickly establishing herself as an asset to our team. Here, as part of National Apprenticeship Week, Laura shares her personal reflections on what it means to be an intern or an apprentice.

 

“National Apprenticeship Week challenges those who regard individuals on training schemes as less beneficial to business than those with traditional academic qualifications. It has come to my attention that those who follow the academic route but also engage in work-based training embark on what is called an Internship; those who do not, complete an Apprenticeship instead.

 

But are the two that different? Employers welcome those candidates who have completed internships, even to the detriment of those who have no work experience, yet shun young people who have been an apprentice.

 

There is a play off between following a university route and embarking on an apprenticeship. Throughout college and university, the responsibility is entirely yours for completing work – you learn to manage your time and to motivate yourself for independent working.

 

Within an apprenticeship scheme, you may have more structure to your day and a manager. But you learn the importance of building relationships with colleagues and assimilating your routine to that of others. People rely on your work. On a degree course like mine, only you suffer when your work is not completed on time.

 

My degree in Sociology has broadened my ability to reflect critically on the world; I have developed writing skills. But upon graduating, I was still afraid to pick up the telephone to an unknown caller.

 

My degree work was almost exclusively assessed on what I could produce individually rather than as a team, which prevented me from growing interpersonal relationships with peers. I therefore ask: how useful is an individual to business if they find it difficult to function in a professional environment?

 

Both Apprenticeships and Internships ensure that young people are ready for work and more importantly, feel confident being in a work environment. Apprentices even complete a formal qualification as a culmination of their training.

 

As an Intern at Capp, I am not following a set training procedure, I am awarded the freedom to create and nurture my own skills development. For example, I recently designed and led a workshop for female students as part of International Women’s Week. I felt intrinsic enthusiasm for the success of the workshop because it was not simply a requirement for a formal programme that I would gain marks for completing.

 

Perhaps employers fear that formal qualifications do not necessarily emphasise the individual’s energy for the work in the same way as informal successes do, but I cannot believe that this is true. All career-focussed individuals will, at times, do work purely in order to further their progress, whether it is formally assessed or not.

 

Apprenticeships still have a way to go before they are regarded by employers having the same prestige as internships seem to have gained. It is likely that class prejudice plays a part in this as many Internships are unpaid, and are thus only available to individuals who can afford to live on other means.

 

Whatever work-based training is called, it is an important aspect of a young person’s development that should continue to receive support from employers.”

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Announcing the Capp-Sonru Partnership for Strengths-based Video Interview Screening

Posted by: Alex Linley & Nicky Garcea

 

Recruitment budgets are being squeezed with companies demanding more efficiency and better results from leaner recruitment processes. We’re delighted to launch a new solution today that allows you to do just that.

 

Capp is today delighted to announce the launch of our partnership with Sonru, the leaders in one-way, asynchronous video interviewing. Through this exciting partnership, we will be delivering our strengths-based screening interview through Sonru’s state-of-the-art video interviewing platform.

 

Sonru’s video interviewing technology allows you to set up your interview questions on the system, for candidates to complete the interview when it suits them, and for you as the recruiter to review their responses when it suits you to do so.

 

The strengths-based interview is ideally suited to delivery through this one-way, asynchronous video interviewing technology. Unlike competency interviews, the strengths-based interview doesn’t depend on extensive probes or follow-ups, but gets straight to the heart of what you’re looking for in the role.

 

Strengths-based recruitment and video interviewing are the perfect match, with Capp and Sonru the perfect partners to deliver this new recruitment solution for you.

 

Read more about how strengths-based video interviewing can solve your screening and selection challenges here.

 

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Supporting Young Women into the World of Work

Posted by: Nicky Garcea & Alex Linley

 

This International Women’s Day, we believe that there’s no better time than now to explore the role that we can all play in encouraging and supporting young women to find their way in the world of work.

 

Here are our five top tips for how you can do so:

 

1. Help young women to identify their strengths – after many years at school, young women can be forgiven for thinking of their achievements only in terms of academic grades. Helping them early on to see that their strengths are more varied than this is key. Knowing their strengths will help them develop their authenticity and build their confidence as they start to explore the world of work.

 

2. Talk about work – at Capp, we see a marked difference in the graduates and school leavers that we meet. There are some whose parents or family members have spoken to them about work and the jobs that they do, and others who haven’t had so much of this exposure. Developing a level of commercial awareness at an early age can be a real differentiator when it comes to a first interview.

 

3. Make connections – the chances for business-focused work experience are becoming more rare, as are the opportunities for weekend work. Never before has it been more key that we offer young people – and particularly young women – the chance to get into business and build their network. What a difference it would make if we could each make five work connections for a female school leaver so she can start building her career network and contacts now.

 

4. Mock interviews and assessment centres – it is often the case that women can feel alienated and perform less well during the selection process. Creating familiarity with different types of assessments can be valuable. Find examples of  psychometrics on line, share interview questions you have been asked, and encourage the reading of financial papers and the business press.

 

5. Prepare the ‘work mindset’ – with a growing global emphasis on employability skills, it is clear that many school leavers and graduates lack the vital business skills they need for their work experience or in their first job. Describing the attributes of the people you work with who are highly engaged and productive can help job seekers hear what the best employees are like. Share how these people manage their profiles at work, what they do, and what they don’t. In particular, prepping young women to be prepared to work hard and learn from everything they do, and the mistakes that they make, will create a solid foundation for them to build on.

 

We urge you today - and for the weeks, months and years that follow – to consider how you might help a young woman that you know to realise her full career potential. We hope our five top tips for doing so provide a useful starting point.

 

 

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Five Books for World Book Day, By Women and For Women

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

Today is World Book Day, and with International Women’s Day tomorrow, and Mother’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d take the opportunity to look through a lens that applies to all three together.
As a result, I wanted to share with you five books, by women and for women, that have all made big, big differences in the lives of women.

 

1. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers – quite simply, this book has changed the lives of millions. In it, Susan Jeffers shows how to do just what it says on the cover – overcome your fears and develop your inner power, energy and enthusiasm, so that you can get back on track with striving towards the life you want to lead.

 

2. In a Different Voice, by Carol Gilligan – this is the book that changed the dialogue about men and women, helping give women their own voice by legitimizing the recognition that theirs was a ‘different voice’, in a cultural context that had been almost exclusively developed and defined by men. The repercussions of Carol Gilligan’s seminal ideas continue to resonate through the generations.

 

3. Mindset, by Carol Dweck – this book represents the culmination of Carol Dweck’s lifetime work to show us that our mindset determines our destiny far more than our genetics in so many ways. With a message that is equally powerful for men or women, Dweck highlights how a ‘growth mindset’ encourages us to work hard, persevere, learn and develop. In contrast, its opposite, a ‘fixed mindset’, can leave us fragile, vulnerable and defensive when things don’t go our way. If you want to work on being better in life, work on your mindset.

 

4. Strong Woman, by Karren Brady – “Karren Brady gave me the permission to know that it was alright to work and to be a mum – that you could do both, and do both well” was how one woman described this book to me. A role model to many women, Karren Brady makes my list for the inspiration she provides to modern women who are striving to find the balance and integration that allows them to have the best of all worlds.

 

5. Difficult Mothers, by Terri Apter – with a quirky counterpoint on Mother’s Day, this is a brilliant book for anyone who struggles with their relationship with their mother. Terri Apter does a stunning job of unpacking the relationship dynamics that can be created by difficult mothers, and what we can do to overcome them. For the record, this certainly was not my experience – anyone who has read Average to A+ might remember my mother, Hilary, being described as a paragon of the Unconditionality strength.

 

My list is personal and idiosyncratic, not definitive, so I very much welcome your views as well.

 

What are the major books that have influenced you, and why?

 

Let us know by sharing your Comment on The Capp Blog below.

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Building Bridges for Female Social Mobility

Posted by: Nicky Garcea

 

I am the first person in my family to attend university. I also attended a then ‘newer’ university, the University of the West of England, Bristol. According to government terminology, I am a ‘first generation’ university student. I know amongst my colleagues at Capp and our clients that I am not alone.

 

If I were to apply for a graduate programme now, in 2013, my ‘first generation’ status along with my ‘non red brick’ university makes me a quirky applicant. Quite probably, for some graduate programmes I would be overlooked on this basis alone.

 

For some years, I might have hid the fact I went to an old polytechnic, but these days I am starting to fully appreciate the role that it has played in offering me an education for life and a stepping stone into employment. I would also hope that I, together with many of my colleagues and peers, will also be able to show younger generations that you don’t have to have had a privileged background in order to get on.

 

As we approach International Women’s Day on the 8th March, we will no doubt be presented with many lists of inspirational women. Whilst I applaud almost anything that raises the profile of women, the compliation of these lists fascinates me. I am particularly interested in the subliminal messages that they send out to younger women and emerging female talent.

 

This year Radio 4 published for the first time, the Woman’s Hour Power List. Much was made of this list, which was generated from audience nominations and vetted by an expert panel.

 

Now, I am not suggesting that, aged 16 and attending Beacon Community College, that Radio 4 was my station of choice. Even so, had I stumbled across this list, it would have said to me, albeit implicitly and subliminally, ‘If you are not from a rich family, or if you haven’t attended the most elite universities in the US or England, you won’t become a woman of power’.

 

Please check out the educational and family backgrounds of these unquestionably accomplished women. While in no way is it my intention to detract from what they have achieved, I want to flag simply the implicit, subliminal message that their selection conveys: ‘If you’re not one of us, you won’t be able to make it.’

 

I’m absolutely sure this is the last thing that Woman’s Hour wanted to convey, but such is the implicit, often unnoticed impact of subliminal messaging like this.

 

At Capp, we recently asked over 200 women to share examples of their female and male role models. As you might have predicted, responses such as Hillary Clinton and Nelson Mandela were often included.

 

However, what is possibly most interesting is the number of women who list their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, managers, work colleagues and friends as their most impactful and inspirational role models. Several women noted how their role model had been their first manager, or a leader who took a chance on them, helping them into their first corporate role.

 

It is clear that the women are most influenced not just by the accolades of the accomplished few, but even more by the actions and behaviour of those with whom they have direct contact. This should be our focus as we approach International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day this year.

 

How can we collectively create cultures, homes, businesses and societies of people who seek to be role models for our youth?

 

With both International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day later this week, we’ll be turning our attention on The Capp Blog to how we can make this happen.

 

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The Stairs Have Been Rushed

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

We did it! The Focused Four completed the Stair Rush Challenge in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital earlier today, ascending the 322 stairs of The Cube in Birmingham at breakneck speed!

 

Here is how we looked before we began (L-R: Gurpal Minhas, Ryan Bodinnar, Emma Trenier, Alex Linley)…

Before the stairs

And here is how we looked afterwards, 322 stairs of The Cube later, but barely a bead of sweat in sight…

After the stairs

A big, big thank you to everyone who has sponsored us so far, we’re still working hard to smash our £500 fundraising target. Onwards…

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