5:15 pm 22 March 2017

The secret ingredient of an effective talent management strategy

22 March 2017|Categories: strengths at work, strengths-based talent management|

I had a conversation recently with a researcher who is investigating game-changing talent management approaches. She told me that she hasn’t found any yet! For all the books that are written and conferences that are run on the subject, it’s one of the most confusing and difficult issues that businesses encounter. And she says that she has spoken to lots of organisations and all are struggling in one way or another.

Let’s assume that the purpose of a talent management strategy is to ensure that an organisation has the right people in the right jobs to enable it to thrive now and in the future. That means you have to have a good grip on where you want your business to go and the context in which you are operating. And it means staying tuned into that. So, if, for example, consumer behaviour starts to change, you are aware of it and can adapt accordingly.

That’s the first challenge.

The second challenge is knowing which people will be able to help you deliver your strategy. What are they like, what are they really good at and where can you find them?

Few organisations find it easy to answer these questions.

This is where the secret ingredient comes in.

If you know who your great performers are and know why they are so great, you can find more of them and you know how to motivate them. If you are not really clear, then you will always be taking pot luck, to some degree, when you make appointment decisions.

Figuring out what makes great performers great is crucial. Knowing what the great ones have in common allows you to identify others like them. What are their innate strengths, what do they love doing what energises them? What are their values and what motivates them? Once you have that profile you have the foundation stone of an effective talent management strategy.

If I were to give one piece of advice to talent managers it would be to invest in acquiring this insight.

sally bibb strengths book published 3 May 2016

Sally Bibb’s new book Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results is out now, published by Kogan Page.

Use discount code HRSBRW at the Kogan Page website.

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Sally BibbDirector, Engaging Minds
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7:39 am 9 March 2017

The small things

9 March 2017|Categories: making a difference|

we are happy to serve you by gratisography

One of my pet hates is people being on their mobile phones when they are at the counter being served. I think it’s rude.

Yesterday, however, I was that person. I was desperate to grab some lunch in Pret at Waterloo station before boarding my train. As my turn to order came, I tried to end the phone call I was having, but I didn’t quite manage it. I felt bad, and smiled and apologised to the guy who was serving me. We had a bit of a chat. Then, he offered me a free coffee! It made my afternoon.

It’s the small things that make such a difference to any of our encounters, to our days, to our lives.

I sometimes think about that when I’m working in big organisations and we’re discussing how to make things better. There are always big things that need doing. But the small things can make a big difference too. Listening to somebody, saying thank you, giving positive feedback, making time for someone. All count. A lot.

Thanks Ronaldo at Pret — you inspired me to write this post. And thank you Pret for giving your staff the freedom to do a little thing that makes a huge difference.

sally bibb strengths book published 3 May 2016

Sally Bibb’s new book Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results is out now, published by Kogan Page.

Use discount code HRSBRW at the Kogan Page website.

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Sally BibbDirector, Engaging Minds
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1:52 pm 15 February 2017

How one miserable experience led to a revolution

15 February 2017|Categories: being in the right job, being in the wrong job, strengths at work, using your own strengths|

Once upon a time there was a young woman who loved her job.

She couldn’t believe how lucky she was to be able to spring out of the bed in the morning excited to be going to work! (She knew from some of her friends’ experiences that not everyone felt that way.) She did so well in her job that she was promoted more quickly than she could have possibly imagined. She was over the moon. But… not for long. The problem? She was promoted into a job that was just not ‘her’. Within weeks she was utterly miserable. She felt like the proverbial square peg in a round hole.

That young girl was me in my twenties.

My experience of being promoted into a job that I was such a bad fit for, affected me deeply. Not only was I unhappy, I lost my zest for work and my confidence plummeted. I knew my boss was trying hard to help me, but I just wasn’t cut out for the type of work the job demanded of me. My previous job had involved a lot of connection with people. I’d had to use my creativity to find new solutions to old problems, and I’d been frequently presented with new challenges. My main relationship in the new role was with spreadsheets and data. I hardly saw anyone from one day to another. Some people love this way of working. But I found it stifling and not at all energising.

However, one my strengths is positivity. Another is determination. My experience gave me a strong desire to understand how it is that people can be appointed to jobs that are so wrong for them, and to do something about it.

More than two decades later I am running a company whose mission is to help get people into jobs they love.

Our strengths-based approach to talent management is a win, win, win. It’s a win for the organisations, it’s a win for their employees, and it’s a win for their customers.

  • It’s the answer to people being happy at work
  • It’s the answer to people feeling valued for who they are
  • It’s the answer to people being appointed to jobs they love and in which they will thrive!

At our Engaging Minds team ‘away day’ this week, we were looking back at 2016. We created a poster showing last year’s highlights:

Engaging Minds 2016 in review poster

More and more top organisations adopting a strengths approach; the publication of the first book on strengths-based recruitment and development; the launch of our online Strengthsmatch™ Strengths Assessment Tools, a CIPD award for Best HR/L&D Consultancy; the launch of our YouTube channel where our clients talk about the benefits of focusing on strengths.

It’s incredible how that one miserable early-career experience, of me being promoted into the ‘wrong job ‘, has led to something more positive than I ever could have dreamed of. My story makes me proud, and celebrating it this week with my team has spurred us all on to do even more, even faster, to progress our mission.

If you want to make a difference to how happy people are at work please tell them about the strengths revolution. It changes lives.

sally bibb strengths book published 3 May 2016

Sally Bibb’s new book Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results is out now, published by Kogan Page.

Use discount code HRSBRW at the Kogan Page website.

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Sally BibbDirector, Engaging Minds
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12:55 pm 27 January 2017

Where our strengths can lead us

27 January 2017|Categories: benefits of strengths-based development, how to live the life you want, using your own strengths|

One of my strengths is connecting with people. I love it. I love getting to know people, their stories and what’s important to them.

Some of the best things in my life have happened because of connecting with a new person.

About six months ago, at breakfast time during a poetry event, I sat next to someone called Iain, whose opening line was that he was an accountant at EY. I admit to being happily surprised by the inspiring conversation which followed!

Iain told me about the Employers Stammering Network that he’d founded. A stammerer himself, he told me his story. It was clear from what he said that life can be very hard, personally and professionally, for someone who stammers. I knew a bit about that already though. My dad had a stammer. People would mimic his way of speaking sometimes. Though it was supposedly ‘in fun’, I’d wondered what it was really like for dad. Was he known as a good listener just because it was often easier than speaking? The breakfast conversation brought all this back to me and got me thinking.

Iain and I talked and talked that morning. Together we realised that the strengths work I do could help people who stammer.

So, last Friday we ran the first ever strengths workshop for twelve members of the Employers Stammering Network. It was uplifting, fun and moving for me. And, the attendees gave us these words to describe their experience:

Engaging Minds strengths workshop ESN feedback words

Confidence building. Positive. Energising. Insightful. Refreshing. Challenging.

If I hadn’t connected with Iain that day at breakfast, this strengths workshop might never have happened. And twelve people from ten different organisations wouldn’t have gone away from the session, buzzing with plans to put what they’d learned about themselves into practice, both in the workplace and in their everyday lives.

“I often talk about research that suggests that people who stammer develop skills such as listening, empathy and resilience. However this workshop took me to a deeper place of understanding my true strengths, what a difference it makes when I use them and how I can now use them much better. I wish I’d done this workshop twenty years ago.”
Iain Wilkie — Senior Partner, EY

For me, this is proof, yet again, that using our own strengths can lead to wonderful things.

Thank you Iain for talking to me and telling me your story. Find out more about the Employers Stammering Network: https://www.stammering.org/employers-stammering-network

sally bibb strengths book published 3 May 2016

Sally Bibb’s new book Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results is out now, published by Kogan Page.

Use discount code HRSBRW at the Kogan Page website.

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Sally BibbDirector, Engaging Minds
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11:28 am 12 January 2017

2017 New Year’s Resolution

12 January 2017|Categories: how to live the life you want|

I used to think that a large part of my work was to find new, interesting projects by convincing people of the difference Engaging Minds makes.

But, I’ve come to realise that my job isn’t to convince or persuade.

Rather, it is simply to find like-minded people!

It’s exactly what I’ve done all my life. My friends, associates, and everyone else I enjoy hanging out with are my ‘like-minded’ people. They share my desire to understand the world and make it a better place. They tend to be curious, caring and determined types. And guess what? This description fits ALL of the clients that have ever engaged us for our strengths work. Doh!!

So, this year, my New Year’s Resolution is simple – to do more of what I’ve always done. That is, to find more like minds to work with.

What will you be aiming to do more of in 2017?

sally bibb strengths book published 3 May 2016

Sally Bibb’s new book Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results is out now, published by Kogan Page.

Use discount code HRSBRW at the Kogan Page website.

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Sally BibbDirector, Engaging Minds
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2:05 pm 16 December 2016

Count what counts, and celebrate it

16 December 2016|Categories: benefits of strengths-based recruitment, Engaging Minds strengths videos, pioneers of strengths-based recruitment, successful strengths-based recruitment implementations|

Too many people have told me they will be glad to see the back of 2016.

As individuals, we might feel we can influence little, and I admit I have repeatedly felt powerless in the face of the scale of the world’s problems and the human tragedies I’ve seen unfolding this year. So, I have to bring myself back to the difference I can make and am making.

My team and the Strengths Champions in our clients’ organisations are making such a positive difference to people’s lives. People are flourishing in jobs they love because of strengths-based recruitment and development.

Our work has touched thousands of people in organisations, as well as hundreds of young people in schools[i]. And it succeeds in any setting – we’ve profiled carers, baristas, nurses, managers, receptionists, delivery drivers, sales people… from old to young, blue collar to professional, high earners to people on minimum wage, and people from different cultures and countries.

EVERYONE wants to do work they love and be valued for who they are and what they bring. That’s why our work is so important to me, because it means that EVERYONE CAN.

It’s why the best reward comes in moments like when a matron recently approached me at University College London Hospitals and asked if she could give me a hug because of the difference our work has made to her nurses and patients!

So, my message to you, as this challenging year draws to a close, is to think about what you are doing that is making a difference, even if just to one person. It’s important.

A few weeks ago, we filmed HR Director, Lynda Greenshields, talking about the difference working with us made to people in the organisations she has worked in, and why strengths work matters personally to her. Have a look. I think you’ll be inspired.

And whatever positive difference you have made in 2016, however small or however great, celebrate it and be proud of it. Because it counts and it matters.

[1] Our Flourish strengths assessment tool for young people is available to download free here. Tell a young person about it today, and help them to a career they will love.

sally bibb strengths book published 3 May 2016

Sally Bibb’s new book Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results is out now, published by Kogan Page.

Use discount code HRSBRW at the Kogan Page website.

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Sally BibbDirector, Engaging Minds
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3:11 pm 25 November 2016

Five top tips for calming interview nerves

25 November 2016|Categories: being in the right job, how to live the life you want, how to make a successful career change, recruitment|

A young person asked me last week for some tips to overcome interview nerves. He was going for interviews for his first job. Here is what I suggested:

1. The most important thing is to be yourself. If you are trying to fake it that adds extra pressure and is stressful. So, how do you best ‘be yourself’? See tip 2.

2. Clearly understand what strengths you have – this is an excellent way to feel confident about yourself. For example, are you great at connecting with others, do you love analysing data, or are you brilliant at solving problems? Think about what you are naturally good at, what you love doing and what motivates you, at work. When you talk about these things you will flow – the interviewers will engage easily with you and that will make you feel even more confident.

If you’re a young person and would like some practical help to understand what your natural strengths really are, our strengths assessment tool for young people is free to access online as a PDF download. It’s called Flourish, and you can find it at the Flourish website. Do take a look!

3. Go into the interview with the attitude that you want the job, only if you are a great fit for it. And, consider that if you aren’t a great fit, you wouldn’t want the job anyway. This attitude will give you confidence. After all, who wants to do a job that is not right for them?

4. A basic tip, but it works — take some deep breaths, down to your belly, before you go in. That will calm you.

5. If you are able to pop to the loo before your interview, go and do the ‘power pose’ in private — stand up, hands above your head, straight posture. Click here to watch Amy Cuddy explain why this ‘power pose’ technique gives us confidence.

My tips to help stop your voice and body from shaking are:

  1. Deep breaths (as above)
  2. Power pose (as above)

Both positively affect your physiology and will make you feel calmer and more confident.

Good luck!

 

My new book is about how strengths-based approaches are transforming organisations and changing lives — if you want to know more about the Strengths Revolution, click here to check it out.

sally bibb strengths book published 3 May 2016

Sally Bibb’s new book Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results is out now, published by Kogan Page.

Use discount code HRSBRW at the Kogan Page website.

UKBA 2016 Finalist logo
Sally BibbDirector, Engaging Minds
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11:22 am 8 November 2016

How one manager changed approach, with astonishing results

8 November 2016|Categories: strengths-based development, strengths-based leadership, strengths-based management, strengths-based performance management, strengths-based recruitment, successful strengths-based recruitment implementations|

I know the power of strengths to change people’s lives and transform organisations. I’ve seen it many times since working in this field. But it still gives me a massive thrill to talk to managers who are new to strengths and hear their excitement about the difference the strengths approach is making to them and their people (and of course their customers).

Charlotte Henderson is one such manager. We interviewed her about her experience of changing her approach and, wow, what an amazing experience she’s had. If you want to know about the practical realities of using a strengths approach to lead and manage, and what it does for people:

Click HERE to read the interview.

I think you’ll be inspired!

And if you’d like to hear Charlotte talk about her experiences, watch this 3 minute video about how strengths-based recruitment benefits organisations.

sally bibb strengths book published 3 May 2016

There is also an interview with Charlotte in Sally Bibb’s new book Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results. It’s out now, published by Kogan Page.

Use discount code HRSBRW at the Kogan Page website.

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Sally BibbDirector, Engaging Minds
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5:44 pm 13 October 2016

From making hearts sink to making them sing: How one company transformed their performance management approach

13 October 2016|Categories: benefits of strengths-based development, strengths-based development, strengths-based performance management|

One of the most complained about HR processes is performance management. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that they love the way their company approaches it.

However, in my experience, it really is as easy to design a performance management approach that is motivating and exciting, as it is to create one that makes people’s heart sink every time the phrase is uttered.

Here’s a case study from one of our clients. They have transformed the way they manage performance using a strengths approach. Managers love it and find it easy now, as well as hugely effective. And employees appreciate it and find it really supportive.

Like many bosses, the one I first spoke to from this financial services company was fed-up with their existing approach. She felt it wasn’t motivating for staff or useful for management. She described it as having degenerated into an annual form-filling exercise that added no discernible value to anyone. Managers dreaded it and felt it was not a good use of their time and employees were either neutral or negative about it.

They brought us in to implement a new, strengths-based approach. We ran a workshop for leaders to coach them in using the approach. They loved it because it was simple, common sense and powerful.

A month after they had attended the workshop, nine of the managers who participated were interviewed about the impact and value of it. Here are some of the things they said:

“I realised how much I, and my colleagues, have been stuck in the habit of trying to fix others’ weaknesses, often being highly directive in the process.”

“The opportunity to practise using the ‘Engaging Conversations’ toolkit, and to get constructive feedback from my colleagues was very helpful.”

“It reinforced the need for me to really understand my people to get the best from them.”

An overall comment that they made time and time again was how simple, obvious and common sense the strengths approach is.

“It’s common sense really…why wouldn’t you want to play to the strengths of your team members?”

“In a strengths-based discussion the conversation flows and employees accept more responsibility for their performance and development.”

A couple of people made the astute observation that a strengths-based performance conversation focuses on the future and possibilities. Some contrasted it with their previous approach where they felt they had dwelt too much on what had not gone well in the past, to the detriment of speaking about successes and opportunities to perform well in the future.

“A strengths conversation is forward, not backward looking.”

They also came to the realisation that a strengths-based conversation with their people led to them discovering what it is that drives their own performance. Previously it was apparently not something they thought about.

“Strengths-based discussions invite people to consider what drives their good work, and to think about how their strengths can be applied elsewhere.”

Because it feels very positive, they also found previously hard-to-reach employees opened up more and were more engaged.

“It helps opens up performance and development discussions with more experienced staff who can be defensive about feedback.”

Some talked about how clearly knowing their team’s strengths and weaknesses helped them to resource their work and projects more effectively.

“It’s enabled me to more efficiently allocate tasks across my team, and to select the right people for project work.”

At the time of introducing this new approach the organisation was going through a lot of major changes. They said that rather than adding to their responsibilities, rolling out the strengths approach helped them to lead through the changes.

“I can’t influence a lot of things in this time of uncertainty, but I can positively impact morale by using the strengths approach.”

“I believe the strengths approach brings out the best in me as a leader.”

They reported that people, even the cynics, were energised and engaged by the process. It had built their confidence, and people were more positive as a result of the new quality of conversations that they were having with their managers. Interestingly and pleasingly they also said, that because people clearly understood themselves better, they’d noticed that individuals were taking more responsibility for their own performance and development, talking about why they had achieved the results they had been able to achieve. This organisation had long been trying to get people to take responsibility for their own development. The managers who were interviewed reflected that they realised that people didn’t know how to do that before, but now they automatically felt responsible because they were so engaged with the approach.

“It’s been confidence building.”

“They feel more responsible for their contribution.”

“They enjoy ‘thinking for themselves’.”

“They’re more energised.”

This review was conducted only a month after implementation of the approach, but a difference had already been noticed in terms of engagement, teamwork and productivity. Sales had even increased in one area.

“Better use of resources across the team.”

“Better teamwork.”

“People are more engaged, taking more ownership of their performance.”

“People are more productive.”

“Sales have gone up.”

These managers also made the link to team-building by getting the team to understand each other’s strengths. Some had already started to undertake career coaching conversations, particularly with people who they felt were displaying strengths that would make them suitable for other roles. And they were able to manage the expectations of those who had unrealistic career aspirations by engaging them in a conversation about their strengths, what would make them happy and where they would be most likely to be a round peg in a round hole.

There is a whole chapter on strengths-based development and performance management in my latest book. Find out more here.

sally bibb strengths book published 3 May 2016

Sally Bibb’s new book Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results is out now, published by Kogan Page.

Use discount code HRSBRW at the Kogan Page website.

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Sally BibbDirector, Engaging Minds
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12:38 pm 16 September 2016

Becoming an entrepreneur: reflections on being shortlisted for UK Business Awards 2016 ‘Inspiring Entrepreneur of the Year’

16 September 2016|Categories: awards for Engaging Minds strengths work, spreading word of the strengths revolution|

UKBA 2016 The Dons image

Last week I was shortlisted for the 2016 UK Business Awards ‘Inspiring Entrepreneur of the Year’. I was thrilled to be named a Finalist and it got me thinking.

I can’t know what criteria the judges use to compile the shortlist, but I’d like to think they might consider three areas that have been significant in our work at Engaging Mindsrisk, responsibility and reward.

Risk

I’m not talking about the risk involved in leaving the security of a good job in the corporate world, although that was the start of entrepreneurship for me. I mean the risk of consistently choosing to tackle head-on some of our clients’ most difficult challenges, rather than starting with their easier ones. We have always had the belief and courage to go for the most impactful outcome for our clients. I remember one of the first times we trained a group of strengths-based interviewers. It was at Starbucks, and we chose to begin with a group of their store managers in London who were non-native English speakers. It sticks in my mind because we absolutely picked the most challenging scenario first — if those guys could grasp the method and use it then we knew it would work for everyone. In truth, we weren’t sure how our very different approach to interviewing would work for people who spoke English as a second language. In fact, it worked brilliantly for them. The group ‘got it’ and loved the approach. But we didn’t know they would, and neither did the client.

A couple of years later, I found myself talking to a director in a financial services company who was desperate because his staff turnover was so high and customer service was suffering. He needed it fixing and quickly. I said, ‘Tell us which contact centres have the highest turnover and we’ll start with those.’ I wanted to tackle the most difficult area first as that was the area with the biggest potential. Somebody else suggested we should start with the easiest and build up to the seemingly impossible challenge. But I said, ‘No.’ That didn’t feel right to me. I knew we had to be brave. I wanted to make a difference in the area that was causing him most pain.

I did the same again when we worked in the care sector; we piloted the strengths approach in the most problematic regions.

I realise now that I wanted to (a) take on the problems that mattered most to our clients and (b) prove that our approach was robust enough to work in and for the toughest situations. In order to do that we have had to be prepared to put ourselves and our reputation on the line. I think that entrepreneurialism means having the courage to take risks that others don’t, in the belief that you can make a big difference.

Perhaps the UK Business Award judges think the same.

Responsibility

There is a great weight of responsibility in our work at Engaging Minds, because our clients are looking for a big impact in performance. But it’s not just that. Our work means the difference between someone being in a job in which they are happy and thriving and being in one where they are a square peg in a round hole (and therefore often miserable and under-performing).

This responsibility hit home for me when we did our first piece of work in the social care sector. I will never forget sitting working on a carer strengths profile. A colleague and I had spent several weeks with carers all around the country. I could not have previously imagined what a carer’s job was really like. It’s tough and demanding and matters so much. The responsibility I felt to make sure that we got the profile ‘right’ sat very heavily indeed. Our client would be using it to recruit people who would be looking after elderly and vulnerable people. I don’t think I had ever done a piece of work that mattered more.

The truth is that a huge sense of responsibility is present, whatever profile we work on, because people will be appointed, or not, according to whether they fit the profile. Customers will be served by people who are employed because they match the profiles we develop. Patients will be looked after by people who are appointed against our profiles. It matters.

Maybe the UK Business Award judges see the great responsibility involved in telling companies what profile makes high performance in each role, and in having them switch their entire selection process accordingly.

Reward

First and foremost, I’m talking about the reward (financial and otherwise) that our clients have experienced by working with us. They save money, yes, and sometimes millions. But, as one CEO said to me recently, “financially and emotionally it makes sense” – he was talking about why his organisation had chosen to work with us to transform their approach to selection and performance. And, he had been telling me about the emotional cost to his people, and their families, of them being in the wrong job.

When I go before the UK Business Awards judging panel in November, I will be talking about how rewarding this work is for my team and me. It’s incredible to know that thousands of people are now in the right job for them, and happier and more successful because of our work. Making a difference in the world is something I have always wanted to do. I didn’t set out to be an ‘entrepreneur’. And I don’t know if I’m a born entrepreneur. However, what I can say, hand on heart, is that I have been prepared to take all the risks involved and shoulder the responsibility of launching a new concept into the market, in the hope that I could make a difference to many people’s lives. That ‘difference’ will be always be the reward that matters most to me.

sally bibb strengths book published 3 May 2016

Sally Bibb’s new book Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results is out now, published by Kogan Page.

Use discount code HRSBRW at the Kogan Page website.

UKBA 2016 Finalist logo
Sally BibbDirector, Engaging Minds
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