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October 2019
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Performance Manager

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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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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Managing Older Employees? What Do They Want From You as Their Manager?

Posted by: Dr. Sue Harrington & Reena Jamnadas

 

In the UK, there are over 7 million workers aged between 50 and 64, and one million of these are over 65. A worker who is currently aged 50 is now likely to work another 15 to 20 years.

 

The future age demographics of the British workforce are influenced by factors such as improving health in older age, fewer younger people entering the job market, increases in the State Pension age and the removal of the default retirement age.

 

Using the data we obtained from older workers in Capp’s Ideal Manager Survey, we consider how strengths can be used to manage and motivate older workers to maximise their engagement and performance, and to ensure that organisations benefit from their skills and experience.

 

But first, let’s remove some of the myths regarding older workers:

 

  • No decline in productivity: Older worker productivity does not begin to decline until after age 70;
  • Better health and safety: Older workers tend to have lower sickness absence than younger employees, are more committed to their employer and are less likely to have accidents at work;
  • Comparable return on training investment: Older workers are just as likely to want to learn new and challenging skills as younger workers and will benefit as much as their younger counterparts from investment in their training and development. Furthermore, the risk of any employee leaving after training investment is the same for all age groups.

 

When it comes to managing older workers, Capp’s Ideal Manager Survey revealed that values and principles are important to this group of employees.

 

Three key strengths in managers emerged as particularly important for older workers:

 

  • Mission: Managers who work with a sense of meaning and purpose, and towards a long-term goal;
  • Moral Compass: Managers who are guided by a strong ethical code, and make decisions in accordance with what they believe is right;
  • Personal Responsibility: Managers who take ownership of their decisions and hold themselves accountable for their promises.

 

To make a difference for the older employees you manage, consider these five pointers:

 

1.   Manage authentically and transparently. Whilst managing with integrity applies to all age groups, it is particularly important for older workers.

 

2.   Continue to value, reward and invest in development – ensuring continued and equal opportunities for training and development.

 

3.   Identify what gives each individual a sense of meaning and purpose. Have a conversation about this and explore opportunities to align tasks, projects and goals to this purpose.

 

4.   Provide autonomy and don’t seek to micro-manage – responsibility alongside clear accountability drives personal responsibility.

 

5.   Encourage mentoring relationships and opportunities for the sharing of knowledge and experience.

 

While we recognise that every employee is different and we’re mindful of the dangers of stereotypes, our data do suggest that these three things are the stand-out criteria of things that really matter for older employees.

 

Try putting them into practice and let us know of your experiences on the Comment section below.

 

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

 

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What Do Employees Want from Their Managers?

Posted by: Reena Jamnadas & Emma Trenier

 

Whatever our role or level in an organisation, we all have high expectations of our bosses. In particular, we want them to understand our strengths and preferences and tailor their approach to our needs – this came across loud and clear from the 1180 respondents in Capp’s recent Ideal Manager Survey.

 

We also place enormous value in this relationship working positively for us – a miserable, ineffective relationship with their line manager is the most common reason behind an employee’s decision to leave a company.

 

The results of Capp’s Ideal Manager Survey showed that 90% of employees disagreed that all managers should manage in the same way. This appreciation of diverse management styles was also shown in the breadth and range of strengths which employees thought were important for their managers.

 

Notwithstanding this, we see that employees most commonly want their managers to have the following strengths:

 

  • Mission: Providing a sense of meaning and purpose, always working towards a longer-term goal;

 

  • Enabler: Focused on creating the right conditions for people to grow and develop for themselves;

 

  • Personal Responsibility:  Taking ownership of their decisions and holding themselves accountable for what they do;

 

  • Humility: Happy for others to share the credit for their team’s successes;

 

  • Esteem Builder: Able to help people believe in themselves and see what they are capable of achieving.

 

Do any of these strengths surprise you? Perhaps not, as this simple profile paints a picture of a trusted individual who leads through a combination of clear vision, personal commitment and a focus on developing others.

 

How can you develop these characteristics within your management style? Here are our five top tips:

 

  • Create a sense of purpose: Understand what drives each of your team members and gives them a sense of meaning in their work. As you delegate work, help individuals to see how it relates to this wider sense of meaning. In practice: this means spending time talking about context before focusing on detail.

 

  • Role model responsibility:  If you want your team to develop their personal responsibility, choose a handful of areas in which you will actively demonstrate how you do this yourself. In practice: as well as taking responsibility yourself, take responsibility for training your team to do the same.

 

  • Share successes: Recognise the culture and climate that you want to build within your team.  If it is one of shared ownership and collaboration, then seek to share team successes in ways that credentialise others. In practice: share credit with others in a range of ways including public praise, copying senior managers into positive feedback emails, and thanking individuals one to one.

 

  • Give specific positive feedback: Think about providing positive feedback just as carefully as giving ‘constructive’ feedback. Let people know what they have done well and what you would like them to keep doing. In practice: give specific, targeted feedback, along with evidence, when you see great work.

 

  • Set your team up to succeed: Find opportunities to stretch each person in your team and provide the autonomy for them to take full ownership. In practice: identify each person’s strengths so that you align opportunities to these strengths and can be sure the opportunity will provide a positive stretch.

 

By managing in this way, you’ll be taking important to steps to delivering your employees what they want, in turn helping you to deliver the performance you need.

 

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

 

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