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

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December 2017
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manager

Halloween Special: Death to the Zombie Manager

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

Embracing the theme of Halloween today, Capp’s Emma Trenier has been published on the Management Today blog, calling for “Death to the Zombie Manager”:

 

“Managers across the country are becoming infected with stagnant routines and are behaving like lifeless zombies. Emma Trenier, from management consultancy Capp, gives her advice on how to slay the zombie manager and break the sluggish cycle….”

 

Read the full article on the Management Today website.

 

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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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Why Men Want a Manager Who is Competitive

Posted by: Nicky Garcea & Emma Trenier

 

At a time when organisations are often reluctant to provide gender-differentiated development, it is interesting to see some notable differences between men and women in their responses to the Capp Ideal Manager Survey.

 

Our Ideal Manager Survey showed that men consistently seek one strength from their managers more than women do. This one strength is Competitive.

 

So why might men want to work for a manager strong in Competitive? Multiple gender studies show that men like to compete, they are confident in their ability to compete, they are less risk averse and less sensitive to critical feedback than their female colleagues.

 

Researchers seeking to support a ‘nature’ argument for why men are competitive offer suggestions relating to evolutionary studies. One such researcher is Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield.

 

In his book Manliness, Mansfield states that men are innately better equipped to be aggressive and compete. In contrast, women are seen as having an innate ability to empathise and communicate.

 

Supporters of the ‘nurture’ debate show that women are most frequently taught to cooperate whereas men (often through their involvement in sport) are encouraged to compete from a young age. Evidently both arguments are controversial and inconclusive.

 

The interesting question for us, however, is what our male direct reports hope to gain from this strength.

 

When asked this question, men state that they hope their manager’s strength in Competitive will result in the following:

 

1. Working for a winning team – managers with Competitive are described as managers who like to win and develop winning teams. This idea of working for a winning team is described by men as providing a greater sense of accomplishment and job security.

 

2. Clear direction and contribution – managers with Competitive are thought to provide a clear sense of how the contributions of their direct reports relate to the overall business success.

 

3. Contagious success – working for a manager with Competitive is believed to offer more opportunities for profile raising and recognition. Being associated with a successful manager is considered to enhance an individual’s positive reputation.

 

4. Greater investment – managers with a strength in Competitive will categorically agree that ‘losing hurts’. The determination, therefore, to win and succeed can mean that managers invest heavily in the success of their teams and their direct reports.

 

5. More opportunities – in a business context success often breeds opportunity. This might come in the form of new and interesting projects or the chance to be involved in creating a successful product or launch.

 

All strengths can be overplayed and the manager with Competitive who takes this to the extreme might be described as ‘focused on nothing but winning, creating unhelpful internal rivalry between individuals and teams and distracted by their own success.’

 

Guiding and applying the strength of Competitive in service of winning the ‘right things’ is perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn here.

 

At a time when manager research often concludes that managers need to be emotionally intelligent and demonstrate ‘soft skills’, this research provides a useful reminder that there are always other lenses which can be applied to how managers can lead. There is certainly not just one way to manage.

 

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

 

You can also read more about what women want from their managers in Nicky Garcea and Emma Trenier’s recent blog, published on Changeboard.

 

 

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Managing Generation Y? What Do They Want From You as Their Manager?

Posted by: Reena Jamnadas & Emma Trenier

 

It’s pitched as a strap line on the Association of Graduate Recruiters’ (AGR) website: Attracting and retaining the cream of the nation’s graduate talent is getting harder and you need all the help you can get”. And they are absolutely right.

 

The growing research about Generation Y echoes this, where today’s younger employees are achievement-oriented and hungry for challenge and meaning in their work. As organisations compete for available talent, employers cannot ignore the needs, desires and attitudes of this emerging generation.

 

Over a four month period, 1180 people took Capp’s online Ideal Manager Survey, where employees across all ages, genders and backgrounds answered questions about whether anyone can be a good manager.

 

Fascinatingly, the results reported by younger employees revealed specific strengths that they want most in their managers. These include:

 

  • Work Ethic: Younger employees value managers who role-model working hard, putting a lot of effort into everything that they do;
  • Resolver: Solving challenging problems is a strength that younger employees feel is important for managers to demonstrate;
  • Spotlight: Managers who demonstrate a love of being the centre of other people’s attention are valued highly amongst younger employees;
  • Detail: Conscientiously focusing on the small things to ensure everything is accurate and error-free is important for managers to demonstrate to younger employees.

 

These strengths paint a picture of a Generation Y that is strongly inspired and driven by managers who work hard and make high quality contributions, showcasing their knowledge and talents, whilst all the time ensuring accuracy and high standards.

 

So as employers and managers, how can we fulfil the needs of our younger employees, and thereby retain their engagement and talent? Below are five top tips:

 

1. Be a role model of working hard, meaningfully: As the saying goes, “work hard, play hard”. Demonstrate a healthy level of work ethic towards meaningful goals. Bring employees on board and get them involved in specific strategic goals by helping them see where their best contribution lies.

 

2. Ensure you resolve challenging issues: Identify problems or challenges that may be impacting on younger employees and/or your team more widely. Support younger employees to develop confidence and autonomy to resolve challenges successfully themselves too.

 

3. Provide exposure to different audiences: Identify opportunities for raising awareness about your team’s contributions in the spirit of knowledge management.  Find opportunities for younger employees to do the same through developing new connections for them, seeking speaking opportunities, or writing about their work through emails, articles or blogs.

 

4. Exemplify high quality work: Reflect on ways in which you can use your strengths to promote quality and accuracy as a manager in all your work and interactions. In addition, if younger employees are demonstrating other positive behaviours, then encourage and affirm these.

 

5. Adopt strengths-based team working: Identify how younger employees could partner with other members of the team, so that they complement each other’s strengths on a particular task or project. This is a powerful way of collaborating.

 

So starting from today, how will you adapt your management style to inspire the talent and engagement of your younger employees?

 

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

 

 

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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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