360-degree feedback is a powerful, multi-dimensional leadership development tool that draws upon the knowledge of people within a person's own circle of influence within their working environment. This includes, but is not limited to, supervisors, peers and direct reports.
It is most widely used for internal development, and many organisations are using 360 for leadership and talent management.
The inability to manage talent is a well known and ongoing source of pain for many organisations. More recently, leadership and talent management practices have been fairly dysfunctional. This has unfortunately lead to corporations jumping to recruitment to fill skill gaps, becoming part of a vicious and inefficient cycle.
What is Leadership and Talent Management?
Put simply, talent management is the process used by employers to attract, identify, develop, engage and retain individuals of particular value to their organisation.
Successful talent management can lead to an increased ability to develop existing employees, a reduction in recruitment costs, and a more focused approach to the allocation of the training budget.
Unsuccessful talent management, or the inability to manage talent is very common. Most reactive organisations anticipate no skill gaps and therefore make no plans for addressing them.
The second, common only among larger, older organisations, relies on complex and bureaucratic business models for forecasting and succession planning, they now fail because they are inaccurate and costly in a more volatile economic environment.
The Need for a New, Multi-Dimensional Approach to Leadership
As organisations face greater uncertainties day to day, they need to take a new approach to leadership and talent management.
How employees advance through jobs, gain experience and learn new skills is all part of leadership development and talent management. The issues and challenges faced by organisations when attempting to manage internal talent is remarkably similar to how products move through a supply chain. Organisations aim to reduce bottlenecks that block advancement, speed up processing times, improve forecasts to avoid mistakes and increase efficiency. Effective leadership and talent management can therefore reduce costs and improve the effectiveness of an organisation.
One of the most innovative approaches to developing leadership and talent is to refer to a 360 feedback tool.
A 360 degree feedback tool is a form of feedback for leaders in which their skills, effectiveness and influence as an executive, leader or manager are evaluated. With this sort of evaluation, the leadership in a company receives feedback from a set of colleagues.
What Factors Affect Leadership Roles?
Within the HR and feedback industry, you can categorise four core factors that affect the role of leadership within organisations.
- Organisational structure
- Employee participation
- Values of people / society / culture
In recent years, leaders have changed organisational structures to become more flexible, faster, and more adaptable. That means a flatter, less hierarchical organisation.
The rapidly changing environment raises increasingly complex issues that require cross functional teams, rather than dependent structures. As a result, each individual becomes more valued. Thus, people must, in turn, respond by stepping up to the call for increased responsibility and leadership.
Identifying New Roles of Leaders
The traditional role of a leader is of someone who led from the front, did all the thinking while the workers got ‘thunk’, had all the answers and was high on control and direction. The more current view of a leader’s role is that of a ‘servant’ on the bottom, supporting and enabling the organisation above. In other words, a leader is less there to act as a good coach, facilitating and enabling change.
Leaders tend to be more comfortable with uncertainty, tend to spend more time managing change and less time managing the existing state of the organisation. Leaders should encourage cross functionality, innovation, teamwork and systematic thinking. To do this, the modern leader needs to have a high level of emotional intelligence, in addition to the intellectual intelligence traditionally associated with this role.
It has been said that a true leader can see the challenges of tomorrow, define the opportunities, and then lead and manage the organisation to success.
That being said, when identifying and developing existing and emerging leaders, there are a few behaviours and traits to look out for.
- High performance: Potential leaders are not just capable of fulfilling their current role, they go above and beyond to deliver results that matter to the organisation’s success.
- High potential: Seeking out extra responsibilities or new skills is a sign that an employee could someday belong in a leadership role.
- Influence: If an employee is a natural, he or she will inspire others to follow him or her regardless of title or role. Good leaders are not only self-aware, they are very aware of the impact of their behaviour on others.
- Supervision: Those who currently supervise others may have the capabilities needed to be a leader one day and are already practicing some of those skills.
- Values: Not only are their values aligned with the organisation, potential future leaders are aware of and committed to their values.
- Optimism: A future leader faces the world with optimism, prepared to tackle challenges and change.
- Inspiration: Emerging leaders encourage others to grow and often have others who follow them.
- Desire: The most critical aspect of emerging leaders is their desire to lead; this desire will push them to accept new roles, challenge the status quo, and accept experiences meant to guide them toward leadership in the future.
And don’t just look for these behaviours in emerging and potential leaders, stand back for a moment and consider their importance for ALL employees.
How 360 Feedback Tools Aid Leadership and Talent Management
Online 360 feedback tools allow organisations to provide better career development opportunities for employees and leaders. The process underpins talent management, allowing organisations to promote leaders internally.
360 degree feedback tools focus on behaviours, specifically how they are doing their job, rather than what they are doing. The process encourages people to think, to initiate and to develop strengths within and across work teams.
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