Something inside so strong
Something inside so strong

Hats off to the CIPD national exhibition and conference, which had felt to be in terminal decline, but this year the event was interesting, relevant and well attended.

Among the things that caught the eye were the nice people from Work Positive, who were promoting their strengths based conversation cards. A clever and useful idea building on the unexciting, yet effective competency card sorts that bigger publishers have published over the last few years.

The cards contain a series of single word, strengths which can be used as to facilitate discussion as part of appraisal or coaching conversations. The idea and premise is sound, but it made me think about the progress of the ‘strengths based movement’ and the impact that it has had on the way that people are recruited and developed.

As a founder director of Appreciative Inquiry Consulting back in 2008, I’ve always believed in strengths based organisational change and development approaches. Marcus Buckingham crystallised what a lot of people suspected already – it is simple and obvious sense to leverage strengths and successes to improve performance. The part that has never quite landed is strengths based recruitment.

Good HR teams extensively research the skills, characteristics and capabilities required for success in their roles, and jobs (in most companies) are not retro fitted around the employee’s strongest suits. So, assuming that we all have a fairly unique strengths ‘blueprint’, are we going to recruit clones that match the required strengths or tailor the role to those strengths? We know that diverse teams succeed, so cloning is a bad idea. The idea of tailoring roles to promising candidates would either cause the minds of managers to explode or them to laugh at a deranged HR initiative (actually it is an awesome, but unrealistic idea).

I’ve now been challenged by one of my clients to research and introduce strengths based recruitment for them. This should be fun!