58. Building positive organizations and their impact on the future of work | Nicky Garcea, Co-founder of Cappfinity


Nicky Garcea | Co-founder of Cappfinity


This week, we catch up with industrial psychologist and Cappfinity co-founder and Chief Customer Officer, Nicky Garcea. Nicky works with Cappfinity clients globally and heads up the Americas. 
Finally, in episode 58, Nicky talks about the research book she has co-authored and practically how you can start to build a strengths-based organization.


Nicky Garcea web


Nicky has over 20 years of experience working with global clients. She is a pioneer in recruiting and developing for strengths, and the recruitment and promotion of underrepresented talent. Nicky is a regular keynote speaker on candidate experience and immersive recruitment technology.



[00:00:00] - Nicky Garcea
Talent isn't just about performance, that considering an individual's motivation and engagement is also a critical aspect of whether they should be considered talent.

[00:00:20] - Doug Foulkes
Welcome to episode 58 of The Future of Work, the podcast that looks at every aspect of work in the future brought to you by Wndyr and Pattyrn. This is the third part of our conversation with Nicky Garcea, the co founder and chief customer officer at Cappfinity. She's an industrial psychologist, very much the same as my co presenter here, Claire Haidar. Claire, what was this third section about?

[00:00:47] - Claire Haidar
This specific conversation that we had with Nicky, we just asked her a broad, wide open question about the book that she's actually participated in co-authoring with a number of researchers. And it's actually an Oxford manual around putting strings to work in the workplace. It's a really practical book. It's the type of thing that any chief people officer should have on their bookshelf. It's very practical. It is research orientated. It is academic, but very practical at the same time.

[00:01:22] - Claire Haidar
I've been able to flip through very specific chapters and just get some really good information out of it. What I really liked about this section in this conversation with her, was how practical she got. She actually shared with us a step by step process that a C suite team can go through to actually apply these principles to various areas of their company.

[00:01:43] - Doug Foulkes
Yes. And she's also promised to supply us with a lot of free goodies that anyone can use to start that process along. So let's not chat too much together. Let's listen to this last part of Nicky's conversation.

[00:01:59] - Claire Haidar
This is just going to be a wide open question to you. I got nerdishly excited when I was preparing for this podcast, and I came across the book that you've actually worked on with a number of researchers around healthy organizations. And I ended up actually getting the book.

[00:02:17] - Nicky Garcea
That is very nerdy.

[00:02:19] - Claire Haidar
Exactly. It is very because it's an academic book. I haven't read it from cover to cover, but I immediately went to some of the chapters that just really piqued my interest, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Do you mind sharing with us what the book is about and why you're part of that group of researchers who worked on it? And if you can share with us how you're seeing the principles in that book actually being applied today.

[00:02:46] - Nicky Garcea
Well, thanks, Claire. Thank you so much for wading through the Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology and Work. The handbook essentially was Oxford gave an opportunity to my co founder Alex Lindley and Nonexec director Sue Harrington. To really bring together a collection of chapters written by individual authors and researchers who across the field of positive psychology were able to offer contributions to really how can we embed positive psychology in the workplace?

[00:03:24] - Nicky Garcea
And one of the things at the time when we wrote the book was and it's a chapter that I contributed to I didn't just edit, was how can we build a strength based organization? And that question I find I probably asked weekly. Last week I presented just on that topic. And it's something that I think at these times people are probably incredibly interested in for a number of reasons. And I'm very happy to delve into some of the principles of what makes a strength based organization. But that's where my head is in relation to that book.

[00:04:02] - Nicky Garcea
One of the things with building a strength based organization, and it speaks to my response around abundant organizations is, I don't think strength is the only part to a strength based organization. You do need to look at things like diversity, equity and inclusion. You can't build a strength based organization if it's riddled with bias. You absolutely need to take a systemic approach to looking at that from an organizational level.

[00:04:28] - Nicky Garcea
But then there is, I guess, some underlying principles that we encourage organizations to consider. And the first relates to how you might believe how talent shows up in your business. And I think this is really applicable at these times when people are trying to diversify talent pipelines, they're not necessarily getting the number of candidates in that they might want. And that is to consider that talent isn't just about performance. That considering an individual's motivation and engagement is also a critical aspect of whether they should be considered talent.

[00:05:10] - Nicky Garcea
At Cappfinity, we've really supported and it's referenced in the book, supported organizations to think of, rather than thinking of a war of talent, think that we could be actually in really fertile grounds of talent. And if you take your own organization right now, is it the case that actually you have people who are highly talented but they're not currently aligned to roles that are delivering on that talent.

[00:05:37] - Nicky Garcea
So if you've got a skill shortage in digital tech, are you 100 percent sure from a strengths perspective that there aren't people in your organization who would have the potential to move into that area? But if you only ever look at the lens of have you done it before, rather than have you got the will, the motivation, the desire to learn, to apply strengths, then actually you may have a very, very narrow view of what constitutes talent.

[00:06:06] - Nicky Garcea
And that is also true on the candidate side. So if you're recruiting and I think of lorry drivers at the moment when there's such a shortage of them, with all the supply chain issues happening globally. We've helped organizations to say, well, aside from driving, what are the strengths of lorry drivers, and how can we go to wider, broader, more diverse places looking for that motivation, will, that desire rather than purely, have you driven a lorry in the past? And can we train the bits that you're missing?

[00:06:39] - Nicky Garcea
Under every strength based organization, there is this view that actually talent could be broader both from a candidate and a lateral perspective when we think about strengths. Do you want to share a bit more? But you also look like you've got a question, Claire?

[00:06:54] - Claire Haidar
Yeah, I do. I'm very deliberately putting on the jaded CEO or CFO hats here. Because I think this is an important part to weave into this conversation. So positive CEO, who's a champion of people and believes in humanity is very excited about what you're saying right now. I'm thinking of all the CFOs in our current customer orgs going, that's a great pipe dream, but that's a very expensive exercise that you're talking about right now. How do we balance those two things?

[00:07:31] - Doug Foulkes
Yes, and this is something for probably my whole career I've been balancing. And for an organization where this feels alien, I would always say where's your burning platform? Where are you currently hemorrhaging the retention of talent or perhaps you're really struggling to bring talent in? And if we take an example, I've worked for a lot of my career, say with call centers. One of the problems historically, often in a call center environment is sometimes a talent pipeline is not there. If it is there, do we know that they're genuinely going to want to work in that environment and have those conversations?

[00:08:11] - Nicky Garcea
And if we don't get that right, we might get recruits but most people or a large percentage of people, sometimes up to 50 percent, go within the first six months. So what we will often do with an organization is say, let's just pilot in that area using a strength based approach to recruitment and let's see what happens. And invariably, what will happen is the pipeline will be broader, so they may save money on agency fees, various different parts of investment.

[00:08:42] - Nicky Garcea
And when I say broader, often demographically broader, more diversity. There's also an additional target and I guess enrichment that they'll be hitting. We can also track and have tracked that time to competence will increase. So in one of the call centers we worked in, it went from four weeks of training down to two because people absolutely understood what they needed to do. We trained managers in how to acknowledge strengths and when candidates came in and the engagement of the candidates increased. But most importantly, we reduce the retention within those call centers.

[00:09:20] - Nicky Garcea
And so the big thing when you're using this approach, saying the recruitment side is to pilot and see which metrics you can impact. We've replicated this outside of insurance companies, within police forces or within that call center environment. And then in the lateral space where you might already have employees, one of the things that is happening, particularly at the moment that has obviously been happening for years, is the realignment of talent.

[00:09:52] - Nicky Garcea
If you take a pharmaceutical company we worked with, they wanted to completely realign their sales force, but they didn't know who to put in the roles. They had a view of the new culture. They had a view of the types of jobs that they wanted people to do. And so we helped them assess their current employees from a strength perspective. People that they were not expecting to go into roles went into roles. But fundamentally their sales improved by adopting a new approach but with a completely existing pool of talent that they already had. You need to do a test and learn and you need to go for where you can find the metrics.

[00:10:34] - Claire Haidar
So Nicky, get really practical with me. HR manager, Chief People officer, CEO is busy listening to this podcast right now and what you just shared sparks a whole bunch of interest in them. What is the actual process that you follow to do this?

[00:10:50] - Nicky Garcea
There could be several routes, but at the simplest level, if you had a job description today for one of your call center jobs and I'll make some of these resources available, post the podcast. That map strengths to that job description, that will give you a language of how to measure that role. You may already have a competency framework that you're using. You can map strength to that competency framework. Use those strengths, then to underpin what you want to assess.

[00:11:26] - Nicky Garcea
We have many clients who will build out a strength based assessment. At the simplest level, they'll build out a strength based interview. And a strength based interview won't just capture asking if it was Doug we were interviewing. Tell me, Doug, about a past example of when you were dealing with a difficult customer? It will ask more direct questions than that. It will ask, Doug, how do you feel when someone's arguing with you over the telephone?

[00:11:53] - Nicky Garcea
We're flipping the question from just getting Doug to reel off all his examples, off his CV or resume. And we're really going at the motivation and the will and the desire as well as the past experience. And that combination of recognizing the motivation to demonstrate that behavior, that is when we're able to find people who maybe haven't ever worked in a call center but they can handle a difficult person on the phone. They know how to empathize with somebody who's experienced a difficult situation.

[00:12:31] - Nicky Garcea
I'll always remember, and this will show my age, somebody who was organizing all of their music from A to Z. But it was a perfect example for order for the job we were recruiting for. So really approaching this from a different angle, from an interviewing perspective could be the smallest thing you could do today to change your approach. You will need to get manager buy in. I have to say, most managers say these are the questions I always wanted to ask, but never thought I could.

[00:13:00] - Claire Haidar
Fascinating. And Nicky, thank you in advance for making that survey available to our audience. It's a huge gift.

[00:13:09] - Nicky Garcea
You're very welcome. I'm going to make our strength dictionary available, and I'm also going to make our strength profile tool available so anyone listening can find out what their strengths are and know how to put them to work.

[00:13:21] - Claire Haidar
Incredible. Thank you.

[00:13:23] - Doug Foulkes
Yes. Thank you, Nicky. So nice to have met you and to have spent an hour with you.

[00:13:29] - Nicky Garcea
Thank you, Doug.

[00:13:31] - Doug Foulkes
And that is the end of episode 58 and our deep dive into positive psychology with Nicky Garcea. To access the free tools Nicky discussed, then keep an eye on Wndyr's social media platforms for more details. If you found this podcast of value, then please of course share it with friends and colleagues and catch us on Spotify, Google and Apple podcasts or on Wndyr's own website. That's wndyr.com. And so from Claire and myself, bye for now.

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