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

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performance management

We’ve Recruited for Strengths. What Next?

Posted by: Emma Trenier, Senior Psychologist, & Celine Jacques, Managing Psychologist, Capp

 

So you’ve recruited round pegs for round holes, and square pegs for square holes – you should give yourself a big pat on the back! You have given your organisation the most powerful ammunition to succeed – the right people in the right roles for the business. But does the work stop there? If only!

 

As HR professionals, line managers and colleagues, you now have an ongoing responsibility to help these people maximise their potential. This could take a number of forms:

 

Ongoing Performance Management

 

On an ongoing basis, people need to be supported to understand and manage their motivations, use their strengths to reach objectives, and to minimise the impact of their weaknesses.

 

The reference to strengths, and discussion around them, should not finish when the job offer is made. Instead, weave it into onboarding, performance reviews, appraisals and day to day management conversations. Champion the use of the strengths language. Help people to take control of their own performance, and their own career.

 

Strengths-focused Career Development

 

To enable really meaningful and effective career progression, and to genuinely encourage retention, you can map strengths for roles across your organisation and then support people to understand which career pathways would suit them and play to their strengths.

 

Don’t just think about what someone is good at, consider also what energises them. Which part of your business would suit their motivational needs? Which role would really bring out the best in them?

 

Talent Pipelines that Recognise Multiple Pathways

 

Finally,  as organisations seek to promote flexibility and agility, we see an increasing focus on working cross departmentally and internationally. Take a strengths- based approach for identifying the right talent for these important roles.

 

As many organisations are familiar with developing ‘talent pools’ for the identification and development of emerging leaders, identify those people with the strengths to be future top change agents. Or innovators. Or international collaborators. In fact, whatever the business needs…

 

We would love to hear your stories on what you have done to embed a strengths-based approach after recruiting for strengths. What difference has it made to you and your organisation’s performance?

 

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Are You a Good Performance Manager?

Posted by: Reena Jamnadas, Consulting Psychologist, Capp

 

“People leave managers not companies” – You have more than likely heard this said before, but the statistics behind it are quite staggering.

 

A Gallup poll of more than 1 million employees concluded that the number one reason people quit their jobs is a poor manager or immediate supervisor. The results also showed that poorly managed teams are on average 50% less productive and 44% less profitable than well-managed teams.

 

The results of a recent national survey also showed that 80% of employees who were very dissatisfied with their immediate supervisor were disengaged, and that 62% of engaged employees say their manager sets a good example, compared to 25% of people who are not fully engaged.

 

What are the reasons for these dismally low levels of engaged employees?

 

People Have Changed

 

Employee expectations have changed. It’s not just Gen Y – employees everywhere and of every generation expect more: more involvement, more accountability, and more recognition. When it comes to managing their performance, employees have shifted from being passive recipients to active agents.

 

Managers have changed too. Command and control is no longer cutting it – managers are expected to guide and coach, provide balanced, constructive feedback, and inspire people to achieve great things, rather than just to enforce performance standards.

 

Reassuringly, research by CIPD shows that when managers do get it right, many good results follow:

  • 25% increase in employee performance
  • 40% higher employee engagement
  • 18% growth in customer loyalty
  • 25% decrease in employee turnover
  • In the NHS, 1090 fewer deaths per 100,000 patient admissions.

 

Is Your Organisation Managing Performance in the Right Ways?

 

So how can your organisation develop the kind of managers that engage and inspire employees?

 

Through Capp’s 2012 Ideal Manager Survey and our work with highly engaged employees, we have identified 8 core questions to help you identify whether managers in your organisation are driving high performance in the right ways:

 

1. Are managers in your organisation skilled at identifying the strengths of their team members and managing high performance through these strengths?

 

Research by the Corporate Leadership Council in 2002 revealed that when managers focus on the strengths of employees, performance is likely to increase by 36%. Whereas when they focused on their weaknesses, performance decreased by 26%.

 

2. Are managers effective at building trusting, open and two-way relationships with their direct reports?

 

Research by the CIPD in 2012 showed that trust in a line manager is more important than trust in senior leaders or the organisation during times of difficulty and change.

 

3. Do managers develop better solutions through harnessing the diversity of their teams?

 

90% of respondents to Capp’s Ideal Manager Survey disagreed that all managers should manage in the same way, and instead, would develop better outcomes through harnessing the diversity of their teams.

 

4. Do managers in your organisation lead others with a sense of meaning and purpose?

 

99% of Capp’s Ideal Manager Survey respondents rated Mission as the most important and desired strength in their managers – managers that would engage them with a compelling vision, meaning and purpose, and authenticity.

 

5. Do managers in your organisation use effective delegation in order to play to the strengths of their team members?

 

Strengths-based delegation has become known to be a manager’s core tool for translating organisational strategy first into team goals, and then into each individual’s objectives, in a way that engages and plays to each individual’s strengths.

 

6. Do managers in your organisation provide regular positive and constructive feedback to their team members?

 

When researchers investigated the drivers of high performance amongst 19,187 employees in 34 organisations, they discovered that the top driver of performance was giving fair, informal, and accurate feedback – and not waiting for the dreaded annual performance review.

 

7. Do managers in your organisation coach their team to encourage daily progress and longer term career development?

 

The evidence shows that the crux of motivation is actually day-to-day productivity, as well as being able to see a path for career progression. As such, job satisfaction typically results from being productive towards one’s day-to-day goals, as well as one’s intrinsic goals for the future.

 

8. Do your managers build resilience and manage change and uncertainty effectively?

 

Capp’s recent research with leaders nominated as being ‘wise’ across dozens of blue-chip companies revealed that employees develop change readiness, agility and resilience when their leaders and managers manage change and uncertainty effectively and with confidence.

 

We know that many people are first promoted into management for their strong “technical skills” – solid knowledge of their own business. But that’s only part of the managerial equation; everyone has his or her strengths and weaknesses. It’s worth reflecting on the way that you use these to engage your people.

 

What other skills do you think are important to engage employees for high performance? Share your thoughts using the Comment function below.

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Three Things Organisations Must Fix Before Performance Management Will Work

Posted by: Emma Trenier, Senior Psychologist, Capp

 

When we’re working with organisations to develop line manager performance management capability, we often need to tackle wider issues first.

 

Here are the three most common challenges that organisations must address in order for a renewed focus on performance management to succeed.

 

1.      Trust must trump suspicion

 

We don’t live in a trusting culture. The norm is not to trust but to establish fault and blame.

 

One organisation I recently worked with spoke of how Twitter has become a management weapon. Every time negative customer feedback is tweeted, managers go and find who is to blame - trusting the public but not trusting their teams.

 

Last year’s Where has all the trust gone? report from the CIPD describes how line managers are the first port of call for building organisational trust which is essential when employees are expected to take risks or walk into the unknown. They do this best by demonstrating their consistent ability, benevolence, integrity and predictability.

 

A performance management approach that demonstrates a lack of trust, e.g., focusing on fault finding, models a lack of transparency, will jeopardise vital trust building.

 

2.      Individuals must be working on the right things

 

Then, presuming trust prevails, for performance management to be a successful process, people must be working towards the right goals, i.e., those that best serve the purpose and mission of the organisation.

 

I take the example of Accenture’s recent Why ‘Low Risk’ Innovation is Costly report. This explains that despite technology companies’ increased funding for innovation, only 13 per cent of executives believe their companies’ innovation initiatives deliver a competitive advantage.

 

One of the main reasons is that companies focus on low risk activities such as extending existing product lines, rather than pursuing new products and breakthroughs.

 

In a situation such as this, an executive may be seen to be high performing through demonstrating the right behaviours and achieving her quarterly objectives. However, if she is working on the ‘wrong’ things (in this case ‘low risk’ innovation) then the genuine line between individual and organisational performance is broken.

 

3.      Managers must be motivated to manage

 

Finally, to bring out the best in each employee, managers must be motivated to manage performance.

 

This sounds obvious, but often while managers are competent, successful, technical experts, they are not always motivated to manage performance.

 

Capp’s 2012 Ideal Manager Survey showed that employees believed the best managers were both competent and deeply motivated to provide mission and purpose, enabling others to grow in skills and self-esteem, and taking ownership for leading their teams with humility.

 

Recruiting managers with the right strengths and supporting them to stay engaged isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s a pre-requisite for building a high performing organisation.

 

What is your experience? What other pre-requisites do you think exist for successful performance management?

 

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Performance Management: There is a Better Way

Posted by: Emma Trenier, Senior Psychologist, Capp

 

With the CIPD’s latest research finding that only 20% of HR professionals believe performance management has a positive effect on results and 21% believing it doesn’t, common performance management methodologies are clearly broken.

 

This is a critical problem for the economy, the government and the taxpayer, because we all rely on effective business performance.

 

The most common reason these systems go awry is that a skewed focus on collecting faulty data leads to systems and approaches that oppose the agile, responsible, learning cultures they are supposed to be driving.

 

These systems have managers being led down the garden path of paperwork, completing review documentation once or twice a year – leaving a wake of unimpressed employees in their trail.

 

But there is hope. With Google’s People Operations reinventing the way in which data is used to make people decisions – from retention algorithms to results-focused workplace design – faulty performance data may hopefully soon be something from the past.

 

Being led by the data, we know that past performance isn’t always a good indicator of future performance, and also that the quality and warmth of the supervisor is more predictive of results than the attributes and experience of the employee.

 

Future performance is dependent on manager ability to provide clear expectations, focus on strengths development and provide quality fortnightly feedback.

 

For performance management to be fit for the future – motivating Generations Y and Z to rise up the ranks – managers need to re-engage with their role as team performance coach and start:

 

-        Collecting the right data (sales, customer satisfaction, quality) to track outcomes – you can’t easily argue with objective evidence

-        Taking responsibility for building trusting, supportive relationships and providing direction and feedback

-        Giving employees responsibility for driving their own performance and collecting ongoing performance evidence

-        Using technology to track feedback and evidence all year round, not waiting for ‘the review’

-        Enabling employees to use their strengths every day to reach their objectives and overcome performance challenges.

 

Over our next blogs, we will be talking more about our vision for performance management and how managers hold the key to unlocking strengths in their teams.

 

We hope you will join in the conversation!

 

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The Year in Review on The Capp Blog

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

The Capp Blog launched this year with our first blog post on 17 January 2012. It has been a busy year since then, with 31,514 views of 164 items.

 

Here are five of the most viewed posts that showcase The Capp Blog at its best:

 

#1 – As part of our Performance Management series, Reena Jamnadas and Emma Trenier answered the question What Do Employees Want from Their Managers? As the most read blog of the year, clearly this was a question that you, our readers of The Capp Blog, wanted to answer as well.

 

#2 – Our feature on School Leavers Fortnight in August generated loads of interest, with Reena Jamnadas again leading the way with The Defining Power of Three Small Letters: Helping Students with their A-level Results.

 

#3 – Sharing our learning and development expertise through the lens of positive psychology, my blog On Learning to Learn: Four Positive Psychology Principles had readers re-imagining their own approaches to learning and development.

 

#4 – Throughout June, we ran Female Leaders Month on The Capp Blog, with Nicky Garcea leading the way with her blog Can Only Superwomen Make it to the Top?, originally published on the Financial Mail Women’s Forum.  

 

#5 – Completing our top five of 2012 was my blog on Student Strengths Insights and Strengths-based Graduate Recruitment. This reported the results of the Ernst & Young-Capp Student Strengths Survey, showcasing our work as the leading strengths-based graduate recruiter in the UK.

 

With these blogs – and many more – throughout 2012, we hope you will agree that it has been a great inaugural year for The Capp Blog.

 

We promise to bring you more insights, expertise and entertainment over the next year, but in the meantime, we wish every single reader of The Capp Blog a peaceful Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

 

Enjoy your festivities and we’ll be in touch again in 2013!

 

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Preventing Fireworks and Creating Sparklers: A Positive Approach to Remedial Management

Posted by: Sue Harrington & Emma Trenier

 

It’s a telling coincidence that the number one reported reason that people leave their jobs is problems with their manager – and the number one issue that managers dread dealing with is problems with their people. Many managers would rather deal with angry customers or chase challenging sales targets than manage people problems.

 

One particular area where an escalating vicious cycle of fireworks often exists is managing underperformance and the responsibility for managing this typically falls at the feet of managers.

 

Research with managers, human resources practitioners and employees has shown that:

  • Dealing with underperformance can be a lengthy and time-consuming process, and managers often feel that it conflicts with their ability to deliver their business objectives.
  • Managers often feel ‘dumped on’ – they feel that they lack the training to handle complex personal issues, and feel ill prepared to tackle the difficult conversations around underperformance necessary for effective performance management.
  • Feeling a lack of confidence or willingness to tackle underperformance can result in managers feeling isolated and unsupported in their roles.
  • Communication around underperformance tends to be reactive and too late – conflict has already occurred between the employee and their manager, and these clashing perspectives can cause fireworks: the manager’s, sometimes bungled, attempts to manage underperformance can feel like bullying to the employee, which can then worsen any underperformance.
  • Consequently, many grievance and disciplinary issues arise from performance management situations, often from the miscommunication associated with these situations. The worry of this happening can often stop managers from dealing with performance issues early and openly.

 

So what are the dangerous fireworks to look out for?

  • First spark- Cases of underperformance can often be traced back to a specific incident, or a series of incidents that were not addressed at the time – perhaps the manager was too busy, perhaps they didn’t feel comfortable tackling the issue, or perhaps there had never been an on-going process of providing feedback, both good and bad – and it’s hard to start with the bad.
  • The slow-burning fizzle – These unresolved issues can then fester, like a Roman Candle – never quite coming to a head like a Rocket, but creating an undercurrent of conflict and miscommunication.
  • Big Bang – The longer it is left, the harder the issue is to confront. Conflict can often escalate in these situations, clouding the perceptions of both parties – both the manager and the employee are expecting the other to behave negatively, so that’s what they see. The manager becomes frustrated and angry, the employee feels harassed and may withdraw effort – it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and one that is very hard to break.

 

Here are Capp’s 5 steps to creating sparklers and avoiding those fireworks:

  • First of all, understand your own strengths – how do they help you deliver timely feedback to your team? How do they help you to tackle more difficult conversations?
  • Develop your strengths spotting skills: know what makes each of your team tick, what motivates them, and where their strengths lie. Use this understanding to help your employees recognise and maximize their own strengths.
  • Set each individual clear and measureable goals that are aligned to their strengths, goals that will help to unleash potential and maximize performance
  • Have regular performance conversations with each of your team. Provide proactive feedback on their performance – give each person examples of what they are doing well.
  • Catch any issues early – be honest and clear about areas of potential underperformance and help individuals to think about how they can use their strengths to address any areas of weakness – and always provide examples.

 

When managers understand their own strengths and weaknesses, and those of their employees, they are better able to flex and personalise their management approach to proactively prevent performance-related conflicts. Capp’s 8-step Performance Manager Programme enables managers to do just this – equipping managers with the skills to manage through strengths, delivering enhanced performance through their people.

 

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

 

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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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Two Great Performance Management Downloads

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

Last week we saw a lot of focus on our work in performance management here at Capp.

 

First, we launched our Performance Manager White Paper, showcasing the 8 steps of active management, to help you deliver better performance through your people by managing strengths.

 

Second, on Thursday I spoke at the CIPD Performance Management Conference on Strengths-based Performance Management as a Driver of Growth.

 

As promised, you can now download my presentation. In doing so, you’ll also find out the results of our CIPD poll on the future of strengths-based performance management.

 

Are companies using this approach now? Are more companies planning to make the change and adopt strengths-based performance management in the future?

 

Find out from the results of the poll we conducted at CIPD, included in my presentation slides download.

 

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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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Practical Strengths-based Performance Management as a Driver of Growth

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

Later today I will be speaking at the CIPD Performance Management Conference in London, on Practical Strengths-based Performance Management as a Driver of Growth.

 

Co-presenting with me will be my colleague Mike McClellan of NFU Mutual, who will be sharing his experiences of our work together in introducing strengths-based performance management at this major insurance company.

 

Our talk will introduce Capp’s 6 Steps to a strengths-based performance review conversation, using the Realise2 4M Model.

 

If you’ll be joining us for the session today, I look forward to welcoming you!

 

Otherwise, I’ll let you know just as soon as our slide deck is available for release. Watch this space!

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