With the reality of an aging and rapidly retiring workforce—which has been exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic—the need for organizations to focus on succession planning and building bench strength has become more salient.  For some organizations, it has become an emergency or existential threat.  Many have taken to updating performance management systems, and oftentimes, these lack the necessary detail for real planning.

Our team has seen an increase in new (and continued) use of a 360-development tool to build organizational bench strength. Why might companies be turning to 360’s as a way to bolster their leadership roster? Because organizations realize that rich, well-rounded human capital data (along with a plan of forward action) is critical to the organization’s future health.

Common methods to build bench strength with a 360:

Detailed Assessment

What is the average level of strategic insight within the organization?  How good are leaders at developing talent versus driving for action?  Are leaders properly delegating to stretch others and create space for themselves?  All of these questions can be answered with a well-designed 360 system.  The benefit of a 360 system is driving down to competency or even behavior-level data to gain insight into strengths and gaps.  Then leaders can better decide where they should really be leaning into strengths and where development will matter.

Keeping Scorecards

360s should never be used for compensation discussions, but organizations would do well to recognize where their talent lies and keep updated, quantitative scorecards.  360s provide significantly more depth than the typical performance management program, as there is in-depth competency score details, as well as thematic responses that can help talent leaders shift their focus and adjust, year-over-year.  360 data can also provide valuable insight into succession discussions when determining if the talent is already in the organization, if it can be developed during the appropriate timeframe, or if the organization should search externally.

Finding Hidden Talent

Organizations have a tendency to promote high-performing and more visible individuals, whether that visibility stems from the job itself or that person’s personality (extraversion).  As more surgent individuals end up promoted, oftentimes hidden talents are somewhat left behind.  A well-structured 360 (that focuses on a cross-section of employees, not just the usual suspects or poor performers) can often reveal high levels of under-noticed skills.  I have sat in many 360 meetings reviewing employee scores, where the surprises are around who unexpectedly stands out than who is not performing well.  For whatever reason this talent is hidden, the 360 can shine a light and help allocate resources toward that person’s development.

Considering a 360-Program to build bench strength at your organization? Click here to read more our tips for successfully launching and implementing a 360-Program.

Our team of experts welcomes the opportunity to discuss how 360’s can help your team build bench strength and strategically plan for the future. Click here to schedule a free consultation with us.