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How HR Can Make the Most of Everyone’s Strengths


Sue Langley of the Langley Group, a sponsor company at the marcus evans HR Summit 2013, discusses the strengths-based approach to recruiting and developing talent.

Interview with: Sue Langley, Chief Executive Officer, Langley Group


Many organisations rate employees and pick the top ten per cent to take part in talent programmes, said Sue Langley, Chief Executive Officer,  Langley Group. “But what about all the other people? Everyone has talent. It is just that the organisation may not have found a way to unleash them or the employees may not be in roles where they can use their strengths,” she commented.

As a sponsor company at the marcus evans HR Summit 2013, in the Gold Coast, Australia, Australia, 13 - 15 March, Langley discusses how the strengths-based approach could be part of the solution to employee engagement issues.

What message on talent development would you like to convey to Human Resources directors?

Many organisations use a nine box grid to rate employees, with the people in the top three by three boxes going on to talent programmes. What we want companies to think about is the remaining 90 per cent of the people who do not fall into that group. Everyone has talent. It is just that the organisation may not have found a way to unleash them or the employees may not be in roles where they can use their strengths.

We may hear talk of one bad apple spoiling the barrel, sometimes we need to look at the barrel; look at what is creating the environment.

What approach should they adopt?

Many companies are now moving to a strengths-based approach, where they are recruiting new people and assessing current employees on their strengths, and reshaping the culture and environment to fit with that approach. If you provide the right environment and give opportunities to people, they can flourish too.

This is not about developing skills that are lacking. When we get a chance to leverage the skills we are good at, we feel energised. When we do something we do not enjoy, (not necessarily bad at), we get derailed or feel burnt out. That is the difference between realised strengths and learnt behaviours. Learned behaviours are things we are good at, we are using yet they de-energise us. They often get mistaken for strengths.

Why don’t most organisations consider what energises people?

Organisations are used to doing things in a certain way. Most people have a job description and they try to fill it. Some companies try personality tests or different psychometrics, they do not necessarily look at what energises people. Yet it is the strengths that energise them that will yield the biggest results.

To be honest, someone applying for a specific job can fill in personality profiles to come out the way the company wants. The good thing about strengths-based assessment is that there is no good or bad; no set profile for a certain job. The company can look at the strengths of the team and realign the team roles to allow people to use their strengths more effectively, which in turn increases motivation and performance.

Now that many applicants are highly qualified, will this approach become more commonplace to distinguish the best person for each role? Is this enough?

More companies are picking up on this, simply because they know they will not get as much out of their employees if they do not. Many people are coming out of universities with good qualifications, yet perhaps their people skills or self-regulation mechanisms are not as well   developed. We can’t expect people to be good managers if they are not good at building relationships or influencing people. The strengths-based approach is a great way to allow people to leverage their strengths in a variety of ways; encouraging performance based on strengths is always better than focusing on what we are not good at!

Also, employee turnover in some places is high and engagement scores low, so forward-thinking organisations are really starting to embrace the positive psychology and strengths-based approach. The link between positive emotion, strengths and engagement is strong – whether we are aware of it through the research or via common sense. It is time organisations started acting on this common sense knowledge.

Contact: Sarin Kouyoumdjian-Gurunlian, Press Manager, marcus evans, Summits Division

Tel: + 357 22 849 313

About the HR Summit 2013

This unique forum will take place at the RACV Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, 13 - 15 March 2013. Offering much more than any conference, exhibition or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry thought leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event.

For more information please send an email to or visit the event website at

marcus evans group - hr sector portal

The HR Network – marcus evans Summits group delivers peer-to-peer information on strategic matters, professional trends and breakthrough innovations.


Please note that the Summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.

About Langley Group

emotional intelligence worldwide’s (EIW) specialised expertise, tools and industry experience is fast building a reputation as the leading provider of custom emotional intelligence solutions in Australia. These include flexible, tailored people development programmes, performance coaching and profiling, professional accreditation and open programmes for people who want to be the best they can be.

Our team are leaders in the practical application of EI (emotional intelligence), positive psychology and brain science. They are passionate, committed and knowledgeable. They expertly convert the latest research into everyday language and real-world examples so people can immediately put techniques into action. And because they live and breathe our positive emotionally intelligent approach they are able to inspire people to realise their real value.

About marcus evans Summits
marcus evans Summits are high level business forums for the world’s leading decision-makers to meet, learn and discuss strategies and solutions. Held at exclusive locations around the world, these events provide attendees with a unique opportunity to individually tailor their schedules of keynote presentations, think tanks, seminars and one-to-one business meetings. For more information, please visit

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