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Why 360-degree feedback is vital for succession planning

Opinions
Development & Performance

Why 360-degree feedback is vital for succession planning

360-degree performance feedback is a critical part of succession planning that can help you identify and empower future leaders.

How does your current planning stack up?

In our 2020 Talent Management Survey, we found that only one third of organisations reported having a well-developed succession planning strategy. The remaining respondents acknowledged that succession is a critical priority for their business in 2021. If your managers and leaders leave the organisation, do you have people you can count on to fill their shoes?

Succession planning needs to be driven by consistent data

Succession planning generally covers multiple individuals. As a solid strategic plan is multi-layered, data is the key to creating an effective talent pipeline. A cogent perspective of both objective and subjective data is critical.

You need an objective understanding of people's effectiveness in their current role – in terms of potential and current performance – as well as a view of their future fit. 360-degree assessment focuses on the performance element, and goes beyond a single perspective, such as supervisor ratings, by evaluating an employee's performance from multiple lenses.

360's focus on the underlying observable behaviours that generate performance. Succession plans that include multi-rater feedback go further than straight-forward KPI-based methods.

Using 360-degree feedback when identifying high performers

When used in a succession context, one of the key purposes of 360-degree results is to highlight the strengths and effective behaviours of high performers in the team. This approach allows you to determine the success characteristics for specific roles in your organisation.

Where performance needs building, structured feedback from peers is valuable for development – to identify possible gaps, foster self-awareness, and accelerate personal growth via targeted training programmes. Succession planning requires following the 360-degree survey with action plans that allow you to track the ROI of future development programmes.

Once you have an idea of what to look for, you can use 360-degree feedback across various organisational levels to measure the perceived performance of those ready for the next step and those who are not.

360’s are one of the elements: more is needed

Assessing performance on competencies is the crux of a traditional 360-degree feedback approach. We, however, find that this is not enough. Multiple perspectives are needed to obtain the insight that you need to determine each employee's placement in a succession structure, such as a 9-box matrix.

Focusing on performance alone is not enough. Potential and agility – are two critical areas that should also be evaluated objectively as part of a comprehensive development and succession planning strategy.

Succession planning tools

Our integrated development solution – the Develop – brings together 360-degree feedback on competency performance with insight into the individual's innate potential for these competencies in one visual report. With this information, employees can understand their performance strengths and gaps, combined with how their personality impacts their demonstrated behaviour – what comes naturally to them and where they may struggle. Ultimately, this will shape their development plan and training priorities.

We also look at Learning Agility – whether an employee can effectively adapt and learn in new, complex and unknown situations. There is a wealth of research into agility and its impact on leader success. Measuring Learning Agility plays a vital role in growing the future leaders of your organisation.

The combination and real-time management of this information allow us to position each employee in a 9-box matrix. The potential axis is not affected by the Peter Principle. This approach gives us a view of readiness for succession and the risks of promoting people above their potential.

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