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November 2018
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Emma Trenier

Don’t Panic! Managers Don’t Need to be Perfect

Posted by: Emma Trenier & Dr. Sue Harrington

 

Don’t panic! Employees don’t expect their managers to be incredible at everything.

 

Capp’s Ideal Manager Survey revealed that there are four strengths that employees consider to be only ‘slightly important’ for their managers:

  • Adherence: Sticking to guidelines and best practice templates as required;
  • Detail: Ensuring they do not make small errors or mistakes in their work;
  • Order: Being very organised with a place for everything;
  • Change Agent: Being involved in bringing about change.

 

Three of these unpopular manager strengths – Adherence, Detail and Order – sit within the ‘Thinking’ strengths family. It is interesting to see this pattern, but why might employees think they are less important than the rest?

 

  • ‘Acceptable’ weaknesses: Over 50,000 people have now taken Realise2, Capp’s flagship strengths assessment tool, and we see that Adherence, Detail and Order are frequently reported as weaknesses – more so than the vast majority of the other 60 strengths measured by Realise2. Perhaps, as a result, employees perceive      these as ‘acceptable weaknesses’ in managers?

 

  • The flip side of relating: Alternatively, employees may perceive these three thinking strengths as the flip side of the relating strengths, such as Enabler and Esteem Builder that are rated as most important in a manager. Perhaps the reduced importance of paying attention to details and adhering to guidelines reflects the relatively higher value and weighting placed on managers’ relating strengths?

 

  • Team member roles: Another possibility is that employees do not see these as critical roles for managers – perhaps the roles that require strengths of Adherence, Detail and Order sit with team members rather than managers?

 

And what of Change Agent? Perhaps employees value stability and consistency from managers, over and above their ability to be constantly bringing about change.

 

So, as a manager, if these four are not your strengths, and you think they might be tripping you up – even though your employees won’t necessarily be expecting them of you – what can you do?

 

  • Check impact: Check the impact of your lack of fervor in these areas by asking:
    • Do I waste my team’s time by constantly changing parameters?
    • Do I lower standards by not focusing enough on detail?
    • Does my lack of ability to organise my tasks effectively frustrate others?
    • Do I cause anxiety within my team by championing and pushing through change too fast, rather than taking my team with me?

 

  • Use your strengths to compensate: Consider how you might use your strengths to help you look at each of these issues afresh. You might also consider seeking complementary strengths from your team to polish up your approach!

 

  • Play to the strengths you do have: Finally, know that your employees value these strengths in their manager less than all others. The best advice you can take is to play to the strengths that you do have to enable you and your team to reach your goals.

 

Download Capp’s Performance Manager White Paper to find out more about what people want from their managers.

 

 

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Inside the Mind of the Interviewer

Posted by: Emma Trenier, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

Interviewers are like everyone else. When they have a long day of interviews ahead of them they feel apprehensive, hopeful, excited and tired. Just like candidates do.

 

Instead of focusing on your fear, focus on how you can best present yourself to your interviewer, the real person, in front of you.

 

From my experience interviewing and working with other assessors, there are three things you should know about us:

 

1. We have short concentration spans. Not all interviewers are exceptional listeners. We find it much easier to listen to the answers of candidate when they are well structured and include strong examples. When you provide all the facts about an example without us needing to ask multiple follow up questions, you make it so much easier for us – and so you’re more likely to impress.

 

2. We want to meet the real you. Interviews often run back-to-back and can be draining for interviewers. We are waiting to meet the candidates who reveal their true personalities. It provides a welcome break to see their passions, motivation and energy coming across. We are hoping to meet candidates who are right for the role and right for the organisation.

 

3. We are imagining how you will fit in. As we meet each candidate, as interviewers we are thinking about how you will fit in with the company. It helps enormously when you show that you understand the company’s values, vision and purpose and show commitment towards these.  

 

In an interview, there are many things that you can’t control. You can’t be sure of the questions you will be asked, what the interviewer will be like, how many other applicants there will be, or indeed how good they will be.

 

There are, however, a number of things that are within your control: your self-awareness, preparation, and ability to talk clearly about yourself for a start.

 

As you prepare to meet your interviewer, human to human, my top tips are:

 

1. Make it Clear Why You. Clarify the three things that stand out most about you as a candidate – the three things that you want the interviewer to remember. As you approach your interview, whatever style of interview it is, be sure to get these three things across.

 

2. Showcase your Strengths. Identify your strengths using Capp’s Realise2 strengths assessment (www.realise2.com) and practice talking about them confidently. This will help you describe yourself richly rather than using too many clichés.

 

3. Get Feedback. Boost your confidence by asking people who you trust what your best features are and why they would employ you. This way you will be sure that you are speaking truthfully and will feel more authentic describing your credentials.

 

4. Use the STAR Technique. When you give examples, remember ‘STAR’. Describe the Situation (the context), the Task (what you had to do), your Actions (the part you personally played) and the Result (what you achieved). This will make it easy for the interviewer to gather all the facts that they need about you.

 

5. Let your Body Talk. Be aware of the clues your body language is giving away. Make sure you give a good firm handshake, maintain eye contact and refrain from foot tapping, hair twiddling and putting your hands behind your head!

 

6. Ask Questions. Always come prepared with three questions to ask the interviewer. Most interviewers will give you the chance to ask questions and this is your chance to engage the interviewer in discussion, showing that you have thought carefully about this in advance.

 

So, with your interview looming, put your fear to one side, and take control. Remember that the preparation you do in understanding and talking about your strengths, motivations and experience will not be in vain.

 

You are the real you, after all!

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Have You Heard of the Progress Principle?

Posted by: Emma Trenier

 

Have you heard of the progress principle?

 

Regardless of incentives and recognition, the degree of accomplishment that we experience day-to-day has been highlighted as the #1 factor in high performance. So claim Teresa Amabile and Stephen Kramer, in their new book The Progress Principle.

 

It makes sense that we are more productive when we make daily progress, but the thing that strikes me is that so often when we make progress, we don’t notice or stop to acknowledge it, because we just don’t appreciate the value of each small step. You’re probably aware of Capp’s research showing that when people use their strengths they are more likely to achieve their goals. That is, they are more likely to experience that motivating feeling of accomplishment spurring them on to keep going, or to achieve the next thing.

 

So, my question to you is ‘How can we use our strengths to accomplish our daily tasks?’

 

Here are some reflections from the Capp team:

 

1. Use Your Strengths to Plan Your Day

Be clear on what needs to be done by the end of the day. If you are creative, draw a mind map. If you are ordered, write a list. If you have reconfiguration as a strength, use a set of post it notes.

 

2. Strength Checks

As you begin a task stop for ten seconds and think about the strengths that you can bring to it. Are you going to handle it using your Improver strength? Or perhaps your Enabler?

 

3. Pat on the Back

When you accomplish one of your tasks, however small, give yourself a pat on the back and take notice of the strengths you used to get there. You might even make a note of your achievement if you think this will help you to believe it.

 

4. Notice Your Energy

Time passes quickly when we are in flow, so you may not often think about what you’re doing when you enjoy these moments. When time has disappeared and you’ve barely noticed what you’ve been doing, notice the strengths that you were using and how they contributed to your progress.

 

5. Make Your Own Meaning

For those unappealing tasks use your imagination to find your own unique way of accomplishing them. This might mean creating a tea-making spreadsheet or competing with yourself to enter data but, using your strengths, it will lead to quicker accomplishment.

 

Perhaps it’s an uncontroversial speculation, but it’s one with a highly under-estimated impact: using our strengths to achieve the minutiae of daily tasks is one of the smallest things we can do to make the biggest difference – both to how we feel and to how effective we are.

 

Go and use your strengths to make progress today!

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Behind the Scenes, the Manager’s Role…

Posted by: Emma Trenier

 

When new teams come together, there are many reasons why they either succeed or fail to gel. In my experience, this gelling rarely happens by accident. There is a usually a good manager behind the scenes setting the tone, steering, giving feedback here and there in a multitude of ways in addition to their visible core activities. I have recently worked with a team manager who seems to be doing everything right…

 

He is a strategic thinker and knows that he finds it hard to translate his big complex ideas into words. He has found that complementary partnerships really work, and so he relies on his team leaders to explain many of his ideas to the team.

 

He consciously sets an example to others of work-life balance, generates a positive climate through daily banter and encouraging participation. Everyone takes their turn at chairing team meetings and they all enjoy coming into the office.

 

He not only understands the skill sets of each team member, but also understands their strengths. To identify their strengths, every team member has taken Realise2, Capp’s online strengths assessment tool, and shared their profile with the rest of the team.

 

He understands the emotional impact of change on his team and is continually observing where each individual is on the change curve. His aim is to move people forward, but only as fast as they are able to go.

 

As this team has begun to build its own identity, he has worked with them to create a team vision and strategy that is aligned with corporate strategy, but that is also meaningful to each individual.

 

Finally, through discussion with other leaders, he has found a way of setting goals and objectives that enable each person to use their strengths to fulfil their part in the team in a meaningful way.

 

High profile psychologist Martin Seligman talks about the five factors that lead to flourishing with his PERMA model. These are Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment. This team manager, who is doing pretty much everything right, has found a way to incorporate all of these elements within the life of his team. Seligman would certainly be impressed.

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