During 2014/15, Pippa Evans was responsible for leading the HR team at BNP Paribas Real Estate. She joined the business in September 2014 following a period of significant change within the function. Her predecessor along with two other key team members had exited some time before her appointment, leaving the team without a leader for some months.
Additionally several other new team members joined shortly after Pippa’s arrival and one or two moved into the team from the wider BNP business. Overall about half of the team were new in some respect.
What attracted you to the strengths-based approach?
The team had been through such a tough time and done a wonderful job of holding things together – operationally we had been excellent but we lacked strategic direction or focus. We also all needed to bond as a team – the old team needed love, the new team needed to be welcomed in and we all needed to know who we were and “how we were going to best work together to achieve a common vision”.
When I learned about the Strengthscope tool, I thought perfect! We can focus in on what our strengths are – as individuals and a collective – and think about how we maximise opportunities to use our strengths.
I didn’t want to go go-karting or just sit in a room and brainstorm all day, I wanted something that had a very positive emphasis – and liked that the tool was focused on the idea of tapping into our strengths and that this could be related back to what we were trying to do as a team and within our business.
What was it about the strengths-based approach that engaged the team during sessions?
They loved the concept of thinking about what really motivated and energized them in the workplace. Strengths are so innate in all of us, they are habitual and you just do these things without thinking.
To become conscious of the idea of ‘flow’ and the fact that certain strengths energise you more than others was a revelation – as was this idea that if you can combine your strengths with skills you can really push yourself into areas of peak performance for you and your company.
The team is still so animated about this idea that you can tap into what you actually love to do – they found it really very motivating. During project planning sessions, they have now put their plans together based on their strengths and what each member will do aligned to their 3 standout strengths.
What did you think of the programme that Kate & Jasper designed?
You were very outcome focused – you listened to the brief and designed a programme that was engaging, energizing and full of practical ideas that we as a team could take away and start beginning to apply immediately.
I liked that the sessions were so interactive – and there was a good balance between ensuring the team understood the tool and practical application. We looked at the theory behind the tool but mostly used practical exercises and break out sessions relating this back to what it meant in the workplace.
This helped everyone to work together and bond but also think more about their personal strengths. With other tools I’ve experienced it can be difficult to apply practical learning – but both the tool and the design of the day meant we could think about how we interact as a team and what we could do to leverage strengths back in the working environment.
Certain exercises – such as Call on Me were incredibly powerful and the team know each other’s call on me strengths off by heart now. This has transformed awareness and energy about who can contributes what and who to go to for certain things. It has unleashed a positive buzz and energy and transformed team behaviours. We have gone from siloed working to working on cross-functional project teams. Most importantly team members who didn’t previously interact with each other, will now pro-actively seek input from across the team when they recognise a piece of work that would benefit from the input of someone with a particular strength focus.