David Cooperrider, Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at Case Western University USA, stated,

“The emergence of strengths-based management may be the management innovation of our time.”

Genuine innovation is rare in management and organisational practice. And innovation that yields extraordinary results is even rarer.

There are six reasons why the strengths-based approach is being heralded as innovative and transformative:

  1. A strengths-based approach routinely leads to quantitative results and can make a huge difference to an organisation’s bottom line. For example, a financial services company saved £4.5 million in the first two years and a travel company saved £350,000 in a 12 month period.
  2. It is an approach that is supported by all stakeholders: leaders, managers, employees, shareholders and customers. Senior leaders and shareholders like it because it makes a difference to productivity, performance and cost. Managers like it because it eliminates the headache of having people who are poor performers. Employees like it because they are appointed to jobs that they are love and are good at. And customers like it because it means they get great service from great people.
  3. It makes a big positive impact on an organisation’s culture and people. The approach comes under the general heading of ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ which is about focusing on and augmenting what works, versus trying to mitigate what doesn’t work. If you have an organisation full of people who are great at and love what they are doing it shows. You can feel the buzz.
  4. It makes a big difference to the diversity of the workforce because people are selected based on who they really are, irrespective of gender, race or disability. For this reason many experts on diversity and inclusion favour the strengths approach.
  5. It does wonders for an organisation’s reputation amongst its customers and others who come into contact with it. You can’t have happy customers without happy employees. And you can only be truly happy if you are doing a job that you are very well suited to.
  6. It genuinely widens the potential talent pool available to a business to include people with the right innate strengths who may previously have been overlooked because they lacked the relevant experience.

Even ten years ago strengths-based talent management was peripheral, with few organisations using it. Now it is becoming a must-do for forward-thinking leaders. The early adopters have been those organisations who are looking for step-change in performance and/or service and have been impressed by the difference it makes to both. Impressive improvement to the bottom line has attracted attention from the private equity investment community as well as the retail sector and organisations that have call centres. And the evidence for uplift in performance has meant that organisations like the top ten NHS teaching hospitals have switched to strengths-based recruitment.

With wins like these my prediction is that more and more companies will join the pioneers like the AA, Saga, Starbucks and the top NHS Trusts, before too long!

“It needs good personnel management to get the right people in the right jobs. Sally Bibb explains convincingly that traditional recruitment based on technical competence too often produces square pegs in round holes. Her advocacy of strengths-based recruitment, identifying what recruits actually want to do and how to liberate their strengths, is supported by evidence which I found compelling. Several NHS Trusts, Saga, the AA, Starbucks and others depend on their staff’s ability to deal well with patients or customers and this can only happen if staff are contented and highly motivated: all have successfully used the methodology described in the book.”

Vince Cable
Former UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Sally Bibb’s book Strengths-based Recruitment and Development is published TODAY by Kogan Page. Find the book at the Kogan Page website.

SBRD Sally Bibb book
Sally BibbDirector, Engaging Minds
Sally Bibb is the author of Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results and The Strengths Book: Discover How to Be Fulfilled in Your Work and in Life, and is a leading strengths expert.