Storytelling about Cappfinity With Nicky Garcea

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 164. This week we have storytelling about Cappfinity With Nicky Garcea. During this episode, Nicky and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for purchasing Cappfinity.

Nicky is an expert in all things recruitment and development solutions. Her passion to bring together strengths expertise, data, innovation and human experience to assess and develop capability, fit and potential really comes through during the podcast.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 30 minutes

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Nicky Garcea
Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer Cappfinity

As Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer of Cappfinity, Nicky spends her time leading the business, liaising with stakeholders, and overseeing the implementation of our global projects. She is particularly passionate about delighting customers and treating global projects as change interventions.

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Music:  00:02

Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens, or should happen, when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment in HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host William Tincup.

William:  00:25

Ladies and gentlemen this is William Tincup and you are listening to The Use Case Podcast. Today we have Nicky on from Cappfinity and we’re going to talk about the use case or the business case for why customers buy Cappfinity. So it’s going to be a fun podcast, we’ll get right into it. Nicky, would you introduce both yourself and Cappfinity?

Nicky:  00:46

Thanks so much, William. So my name’s Nicky Garcea, I’m one of the co-founders of Cappfinity and also the head of the Americas, as well as the Chief Customer Officer and Cappfinity is a, end to end, talent intelligent solution business. We’ve been working globally for the last 16 years, founded in 2005, and we have over 250 brands that we deliver to across the globe. And we are probably best known for our work in strength based assessment and development, which is a unique way to always look at how candidates and participants, not just how they perform, but what engages and motivates them. And that’s really the unique part of our solution.

William:  01:36

So when you say talent intelligence, for those that are listening, that might not understand exactly, because we probably apply that to a lot of different things, you start in assessments and in engagement, obviously you’re trying to unlock the secret of what really makes people tick, but for the first person that maybe hears talent intelligence for the first time or for the person that hears it for the first time, how do you get them to understand what that means to them and what it can mean to them as a business leader?

Nicky:  02:09

Yeah, thanks William. So one of the things that’s really important to us at Cappfinity is helping business leaders understand what they want to measure and measuring exactly what matters to them in talent. And we do that by either providing models of what good looks like in sales roles or technology roles that we’ve built over the last 16 years, or it might be the case that a client or business leader would use our product, Futuremark to help them understand what talent looks like in their organization. And that can involve a series of engagements, often a survey with managers, incumbent performers, but also discussions and focus groups with business leaders around what does the future look like for talent across this organization and how can we really help them futureproof what they’re going to look for, what talent pipelines they want to either nurture externally or internally.

Nicky:  03:09

And it’ll often give us a read on a number of soft skills and behaviors, some often technical skills as well, but that will be a blueprint for them. That then from there they can, in partnership with us, build out a series of products and solutions that will either help them in recruitment or might help them in development. And we have a platform which allows them to deliver those products using technology, but also to give feedback reports, personalized feedback reports to every candidate, every person that engages in those assessments. And it also allows them to get a read on, what does the talent look like who’s applied for them? What does the talent look like inside their organization? So they can really understand whether they’ve got shortcomings or things they might want to do to broaden that pipeline.

William:  04:03

So, it is one of the holy grails of trying to figure out the DNA of what works.

Nicky:  04:09


William:  04:09

Inside of a particular firm or an office, however you want to define it inside of that work. And so some of that is, when you survey you’re looking past, it’s looking backwards a little bit. But you’re actually helping them look backward, but also look forward in terms of bridging what skills they have now and the skills they possibly need in the future.

Nicky:  04:32

Yes, it’s absolutely about not just looking at the past. And I think that’s something that worries often talent professionals, that we’re just studying what talent looked like two years ago by just studying the best performers in current role and in these current times that we’re all facing, people are having to broaden their view of talent and they’re having to also look at talent in a way that might be more agile, not just recruiting for the job of today, not just recruiting individuals who will be able to do one job in their organization, but might be able to move across the business over time and also to reevaluate the talent that they already employ to see if they might be able to form lateral moves, to really help with the talent shortage, which we’re all facing.

William:  05:27

And when you evaluate the folks that they currently have, you’re looking at some potentiality, some transferable skills. You’re looking at not only what they have now, but you mentioned development, what they could possibly be developed into, some of their skills and how they can be developed.

Nicky:  05:45

Yeah. And that’s, I guess, really key for us. I mentioned at the start, we take this strengths based lens, where we are looking at not just how people are performing, but also what motivates and engages individuals. And at any one time you might have strengths that you are applying in a current role, but you’ll also have things that are unrealized. Things that you are good at, you find energizing, but you might not be using those strengths and skills as much today. And really for us, it’s about being able to tap into that unrealized capacity and allowing organizations to understand that they may have much greater, deeper pockets of talent that are available to them inside their organization and the individuals themselves to identify those unrealized strengths. So they put themselves forward for roles that they talk to their managers about, those strengths that they might want to be able to develop.

William:  06:52

I love that. I love that. Well, because it’s hidden. I mean, it’s found on some levels, but it’s trapped within an organization and they might not know, especially a global organization, they might not know that they have somebody in Singapore that can easily, skills wise, help with something in Dallas, Texas. I love how you phrase the broadening people’s minds around the definition of talent or what is talent today? Are we hiring or do feel like we’re starting to move to, instead of hiring individuals, we’re hiring the skills? And so skills can come at in gigs, in freelance, in part-time and fractional, et cetera. Are we going towards that in a sense of, maybe it isn’t one person that performs one thing or whatever, maybe it’s five people that perform five different things that accumulate the skills that are needed and are required for the job.

Nicky:  07:49

Yeah. And that’s a big question. I think, let me unpack it a little bit, William.

William:  07:55

Yeah. How many stars are there actually in the universe? No, I’m just kidding.

Nicky:  08:00

But let’s unpack it a little bit. I think for some years, because of the war for talent mantra that has been, certainly for the 20 years I’ve been working in talent has not left us. And at the moment we are really in the eye of the storm. I do think there is a willingness to not just see the needs of the organization at an individual level, but to see roles and the capacity to join an organization, to be a broader set of cultural strengths, of values. It doesn’t have to be just related to a role. And I think we have certainly seen at Cappfinity. Because of this strength based approach, organizations to look beyond academics, to look beyond past experience. Right from funeral care workers who used to be dance teachers to lorry drivers that have maybe never considered that they could have a strength capacity to be able to drive lorries.

Nicky:  09:08

There is definitely a movement to see a broader set of skills and strengths from different individuals, different diverse talent. And that I think the pandemic has definitely expedited that need because of some of the skills shortages that we now face. In terms of then the broader question, I think organizations are starting to appreciate that actually you can have these very spiky profiles and actually across a team, you can get the work done by often, arguably the best work done by quite a diverse profile of individuals that together are strong, but it’s not that everyone has to have the same cookie cutter approach to do that task, but that does require quite a lot of appreciation by the organization of what talent do they have now and how can they have those diverse teams and then the capacity of the manager to be able to, because what you will ask them to do, to your question around gig workers, part-time workers, they then need the capacity to believe that managing that team of diverse talent will bring a better outcome.

Nicky:  10:26

But not managed well, actually that can be a challenge. But managed well, they will then have probably a better, the data shows, they will have the capacity to achieve more. So it is happening in recruitment and we’re on that journey. It is happening within organizations, but it’s definitely at the start I would argue.

William:  10:47

Yeah, 100%. I see the same thing. And then, you’re right. They’ve got to have the capacity. I think managers have to have the capacity. Our talent has to have the capacity to understand this new world order, if you will. You mentioned, as a category talent intelligence. It’s interesting because I also think of you as a talent experience platform. So, on one side the candidates get feedback, they get a great experience when they apply, talent internally gets an experience, the leadership and management, et cetera, they get intelligence. And maybe even the candidates and employees also get intelligence from some of the things that they garner. But it’s interesting, the line between intelligence and experience.

Nicky:  11:39

Yeah. And I think it’s a brilliant observation. From our perspective and there’s quite an activist movement currently in talent, I would say, there is a power shift between candidate, between participant wanting to understand themselves, wanting to understand the part they play, wanting the organization that they might be applying for to give them feedback. So there’s this very new sort of activist movement that is happening for talent. The other piece is that, we believe at Cappfinity that to really assess talent, it needs to have this two levels of authenticity. And one of those levels is that it should be an experience that is true to the organization. And that means that if I’m going to go through an online assessment or if I’m going to come and meet you in person, or if I’m going to go through a development center, it should authentically feel and look like the work that I’m going to have to do in the future.

Nicky:  12:44

That is the best way, I’m a psychologist by background, that is the best way to measure someone’s talent for that future role or that organization they want to apply for, is for the experience to be like what they need to do. The other piece with that authenticity is then, and it’s as much if I’m in the organization or if I’m an external candidate, I can get a sense of whether that is actually where my talent lies and rather than be on my first day or in my first 90 days, and call centers are a perfect example of this, where there’s so much attrition, but if in the recruitment process, I truly got to feel an experience, what it might be like to do that job, I can take an informed decision as the candidate, whether I want to join that organization, whether I want to be in that culture. And if I get feedback as part of that process, then I’ve been really informed about what it’s going to be like to potentially join the company. So I completely agree. It is about experience as much as the intelligence and the data in the platform. And it’s also about being able to really be authentic on those two levels.

William:  14:06

So authenticity comes in at least two forms. Let’s just say, one is real, the one that you perceive of yourself and one’s maybe aspirational, we’ll just make it simple. We’ll make the world flat. What if the job or the role or the skills needed, et cetera, what if it’s aspirational? How do they create a scenario? Or first of all, should it ever be aspirational? Should it just be what’s real and what’s not. If it is aspirational, should it be scenarios and simulations and experiential? Like here’s what the job will be in terms of, maybe not as much as, here’s what the job is, but here’s what the job will be. And what do you think in terms of tactically? How do you get people to understand, outside of words on a page on a job description. How do you get them to understand what actually the job’s about?

Nicky:  15:04

Yeah. And some of this comes back to the Futuremark process that I mentioned at the beginning. Not all roles are being delivered in organizations today. They’re actually wanting to recruit for, it could be a job that’s evolving because technology has come in and taken part of that job away. So they’re looking at a new type of role and we have to be thoughtful in creating the skills and strengths and job descriptions related to that job. Because some of that is, you could look at the benchmark, if there’s another organization that’s doing it, but sometimes this has to be partly on what do the managers anticipate? What do the leaders anticipate that job requiring? And then provide as much to the candidate in terms of that future experience, but equally the organization might not yet have that experience in place. So there’s an element of best judgment.

Nicky:  16:03

The other thing that we see quite a lot of is that organizations might want to diversify their culture. They might want to diversify the approach that individuals are going to take to work. Let’s talk about a behavior like agility, where they want to explicitly recruit for incredibly agile people, because they know that they’re going to need that type of strength and behavior as they go forward. So we ground as much of this as we can in, what do we think those behaviors are going to be needed in the future, even though they could be aspirational. And then still try to create an experience that is like what individuals are going to have to do in that role. And it could be scenario based.

Nicky:  16:54

But if we can’t go to the role level, then let’s talk about what those behaviors look like when deployed well. Because actually we might need you to deploy your agility across multiple projects, across multiple divisions. So we can have a look at that in the assessment process, the recruitment process, without it having to be just related to the job. But this piece around aspirational is definitely also on the rise.

William:  17:19

So, in your mind or at least what you’ve seen with customers, what’s the relationship between agility and managing ambiguity?

Nicky:  17:27

Very close.

William:  17:30

Almost synonyms?

Nicky:  17:33

To a degree. I think, there’s no doubt that at the moment, people, organizations globally are looking for talent that can not just cope, but actually enjoy working in ambiguous situations. And that’s where the strengths piece would come in. This isn’t just people who can tick the box, but actually there’s a passion for, that I might be in a changeable, undefined environment. But there is also, when it comes to agility, very specific parts of agility that people are wanting more of. And if I just call out one, and it’s a phrase that people have used for, it comes from the Lominger work, it’s been used for a number of years, but if you take something like learning agility, so taking it beyond just working in the ambiguous, but that I am able to learn from a variety of sources and then apply that learning quite quickly into different environments. So agility and ambiguity definitely go together.

Nicky:  18:38

But I also see organizations now really getting quite fine tuned on exactly what it is that they might need people to be, how are they going to use this agility? And certainly something like learning agility is coming to the fore.

William:  18:54

So as you assess, have you learned anything about agility and, call it any way you want, gender, race, generational? Is there anything that’s going to come from the data where you’re like, just something pops out and says, there’s a cluster of folks that are just, right now, as it looks in the data, they’re more apt to deal with being agile.

Nicky:  19:22

I think it’s a brilliant question. And I think we see learning agility, the capacity to demonstrate learning agility in interns and at board levels. So it’s not something that I would necessarily say is cut purely on the basis of experience. It certainly, it would manifest in a slightly different way to an intern versus a board member. But it’s certainly something you can measure across the employee life cycle. I think one of the things, and we see no difference from a minority group perspective. So women are as agile as men, different diverse populations.

William:  19:59

I was making the assumption, they were more agile. I was hoping that you were going to tell me that. But All right, that’s fine.

Nicky:  20:08

No, there’s no difference. The one thing I would say is that there is sometimes generational perception, that maybe is not always correct, that different generations might be more agile than others. And I think one of the things that’s probably coming to the fore at the moment is something of, you’ve got now five generations in the workplace, sometimes misconceptions around, if I’m in one generation, is my millennial going to be as agile? Do they come in with some predefined views of what they’re looking for from a job? I think some of that is misperception, but it’s certainly something that I think organizations are navigating between those generational differences.

William:  21:00

Well, I can validate that with just two data points. So very, very small sample size. Both my sons are Gen Z and the attention span, obviously is less than millennials, which is stated and covered about 3000 different ways. But what I found with both of them 15 and 11 respectively, is they make decisions faster. They’ve grown up with that little X, on the right hand corner of their life. So they consume something and it’s like, yep, Nope, delete. So, perception wise, like, oh, the attention span, it’s terrible. Say four seconds less than millennials on average. That’s crazy. We’ve lost attention span. It’s like, well actually no, when you dig in, I mean, again, just doing it with the kids that I have. No, they actually make decisions faster. So it’s weird, the perception and you nailed it at the beginning because you’re like, yeah, people’s perceptions of these generations are off, generally speaking. So I love that. You mentioned engaging and encouraging. I want to ask, that’s not a once a year type thing.

William:  22:13

Because, what’s engaging you today or what’s engaging one’s employee today might not be engaging them next week or later this afternoon. So, how do you help your clients through them understanding that, that’s a relentless pursuit of understanding what’s engaging and encouraging?

Nicky:  22:36

I think from our perspective, it often will go back to the capacity to use strengths in the work that you are delivering. And you have a multitude of strengths available to you. So it might not be that you need to use the same strength, my top strengths at venture. I don’t need to use that strength every day to be engaged. There’s other things. I’ve got gratitude, I’ve got drive. There are other things that will keep me engaged. And I think when it works incredibly well is when team leaders and managers have an understanding of the different strengths and soft skills that really make up the individuals in their teams. And they see it a little bit more of a kind of orchestra of talent that they are able to tap into.

William:  23:29

Oh, that’s nice.

Nicky:  23:31

The other thing is that, when individuals know what their strengths and talents are and appreciate the breadth of what they have on offer, and we see this a lot when we’re trying to work with females, to encourage them to apply for roles, with ethnic minority individuals, to try and think about promotion. When individuals understand the breadth of strengths on play, they will also be very proactive in keeping themselves engaged as well. So I do think that this doesn’t have to always fall at the feet of the organization. You can do so much, at an individual level, where individuals can then also be proactive in that discussion with their managers and their team leaders about, actually this is what I want to do a bit more of, is there a way I can get to do that here?

Nicky:  24:20

And I think right now, if we probably, and I do think it’s been hard working virtually, but if we were having more of those conversations and understanding the fluidity of what makes people engaged, but also that it’s talent based and people are often just want to do more of things that they’re not having a chance to currently activate, we probably would be able to increase engagement at the moment.

William:  24:43

I love that. So obviously Cappfinity can be used to integrate with all kinds of different systems that they already have. So from recruitment to onboarding development, learning and development, succession planning, performance, et cetera, where do your clients start? Or do they integrate it across many different things or do they start with one thing and then spread?

Nicky:  25:09

It’s often, and I think this is the same for many organizations, people will often do a pilot and test and learn the approach. Sometimes it’s very explicitly that they want to bring in strengths. Other times it’s, strength’s never mentioned, but that’s the basis that they’re looking at potential and talent on. It will often be by level. So it might be intern. It could be board level, and then they’re going to go up or down in the organization to test out that approach. At the moment, interestingly, and I think it speaks to what a lot of talented individuals are facing, we are doing more work where people are starting with their boards and then using that work to cascade and transform a view of talent across the organization. And we saw a similar thing after the financial crisis. So I do think at the moment, people are actually wanting to try and leave this view of talent from the top and then cascade throughout the organization.

William:  26:13

Good, because if you get the board and the C-suite involved, then you have a half a chance of it actually working rather than the opposite. So, favorite customer stories without names, of course, but just two or three stories where you’ve just seen where some of your customers have done some really innovative things with Cappfinity.

Nicky:  26:38

I can offer names if there’s people who have to be spoken about publicly.

William:  26:47

That’s fine. No, it’s no worries. I just didn’t want to cross any lines.

Nicky:  26:48

So we’ve had a project this year with United Nations and they have been recruiting graduate talent for a new program. So it would fit in the aspirational question that you asked earlier. And they had to deploy something at great pace. They actually already had a competency framework. So we matched strengths to the competency framework and we were able to deliver a online assessment that gave candidates an experience of what it would like to be at the UN. They then went to do a work simulation. So, what was this new program like to be in? And then they did a virtual assessment center and provided feedback to candidates electronically that was personalized. And the piece that stood out with that project was one, it was up and running with an incredibly small team with the UN who did an incredible job in a very short amount of time.

Nicky:  27:46

So it was up and running in months and then delivered in weeks. But they had, in a two week window, they had 20 to 30 jobs available. They had over 36,000 applicants in the first two weeks. And we were able, across 140 countries, to help distill and work in partnership with them to bring candidates through a process that had absolutely no adverse impact on those candidates, which is a challenge when you are dealing with so many different countries and nationalities, but it was completely fair, completely bias free. And they’re currently in the process of making those job offers. But that was a project that from a really, can you deploy strength globally at scale, at pace and therefore to be no difference, that was a great result for us.

William:  28:43

And it’s a small organization that relatively few people know of.

Nicky:  28:48

Exactly. Yeah. Doesn’t do this incredible work globally. So yeah, that was a real standout for us.

William:  28:54

All right, last one, because I know you have thousands of these, but just one other story that you just really love.

Nicky:  29:02

I think the other story that I really love is our work across EY in the UK. And they’ve been able to show over time that it’s not just academics, that predict performance in role, but it is a combination of skills and strengths. And as a result of that, their capacity to particularly recruit individuals who might be the first in their household to go to university, they’ve really been able to commit to that and bring in diversity over time. So yeah, I think EY is a standout for their work on not just focusing on past experience and academics.

William:  29:46

You know, it’s funny because they’ve always been on the bleeding edge. It’s a really interesting organization because they, even when I was in business school, they would recruit differently. And I love to hear that, because that just means that, they’ve been evolving that for 150 years, so that’s fantastic. Nicky, thank you so much for your time today. Thanks for coming on The Use Case Podcast.

Nicky:  30:11

Thank you, William. Thank you for having me.

William:  30:13

Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to The Use Case Podcast. Until next time.

Music:  30:16

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William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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