Norwich Union is a company at the cutting edge of leadership and management techniques in the UK, for the past 18 month piloting the use of a strengths-based approach in various areas of Organisation Development and Human Resource Management, such as recruitment.
For most candidates and companies, the interview process is something to be endured rather than enjoyed , but according to KarenStefanyszyn , Head of Organisation Development, focusing on what people are good at and what makes them tick has transformed the interview process at NU and had some remarkable knock-on effects in the business.
For example: over 91% of NU staff recruited using strengths-based interview techniques said that the interview prepared them for their new roles; over 72% agreed that it was easy to settle into their new role; and over 73% said that they now use their natural talents at work every day. I find these results astonishing when I consider a typical interview outcome - that the job is not what was expected, the honeymoon period lasts a matter of weeks before reality bites, and results in lower morale and motivation.
In addition, Stefanyszyn reports that 100% of recruits scored above 90% in quality audits, and staff turnover figures in the first 6 months were halved. As a result of such positive feedback, the company is piloting the use of strengths in other areas of OD andHRM such as talent management. We look forward to hearing how this progresses.
The use of strengths in business is not entirely problem-free however. As an organisation you need to be clear which strengths model is the best fit - there are many well-known and well-validated models to choose from (such as StrengthsFinder and VIA-IS), others are being developed (for example by Dr AlexLinley , Director of the Centre for Applied Positive Psychology ), or you could always create your own.
As with any management tool, it can provide a useful common language with which to explore and resolve issues. You still need to be mindful, however, of the downside - that some people get quickly attached to labels, and forget that tools are only a means to an end.
That said, the use of strengths is gaining traction in UK businesses for one very good reason - for creating positive energy and excitement at work, nothing beats it. Imagine actually having fun during a job interview, and coming away from it feeling that you had learnt something new about yourself - now that really would be radical. I believe that using strengths in recruitment has the potential to transform the interview process in this way.
If you have had experience of using a strengths-based approach at work, we'd love to hear from you.