Better data for Talent Reviews & Succession Planning

Posted on October 16, 2019 at 10:33 AM

succession-planning

Succession Planning is the process of identifying and developing potential future leaders or senior managers, as well as individuals to fill other business or critical positions, either in the short- or the long-term. [Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development].

Implementing Succession Planning can:

  • Minimise business risk
  • Allow you to more accurately plan for the future
  • Ensure that your organisation has the capability to deliver against a vision and strategy
  • Build organisational resilience, sustainability and business continuity
  • Pinpoint development needs
  • Identify career progression paths so you retain your strongest talent.

For many organisations, they need to demonstrate to stakeholders that they are proactively managing the people-risk element in their businesses.  This is particularly true in the Private Equity arena where organisations can change ownership and the new owners insist that a stable management team and organisation is in place.


When introducing Succession Planning into an organisation, the first consideration is ‘how do we describe talent around here’?  This could be a combination of the following:

  • Skills & Competences
  • Performance in role
  • Potential for the future
  • Desire to Lead
  • Learning Agility
  • Emotional Intelligence

depending upon why the organisation is implementing Succession Planning, perhaps for retention and engagement purposes, then the ‘employee voice’ is an important contributor.  How does the employee see themselves developing in the future? Do they have aspirations for a specific role, location or cross-departmental move?

So whilst many of the above pieces of data can be simply gathered from an employee or their manager, how do you gain a broader perspective on an individual?  How might you assess their learning agility or potential in a way that reduces as much subjectivity and bias as possible?

If you’ve not considered it before, then a well-crafted 360-degree feedback process that taps into behaviours that demonstrate learning agility (for example), can and does bring a much more holistic view upon which to base succession planning decisions. It can be seen as being more accurate and a fairer way of assessing impact and potential because it removes the reliance on the single view of a manager.

It also allows you to give greater weight to input from those groups or individuals who might be best placed to observe or assess particular behaviours or competencies. For example, if you are looking for high performers with the ability to spontaneously use coaching skills with others, the manager may not be the best informed. Equally if you are looking for the demonstration of an individual’s ability to coach, motivate and delegate this is probably most accurately judged by direct reports.

By seeking input from multiple people, you could be introducing another level of bias, but in doing so you can get a richer picture of how an individual is seen by others.

In many programmes where we have supported succession planning, the talent review process or career coaching conversations and decisions about people have been supported by a review of their recent 360-degree feedback.

Practical and real-life examples

According to an article in Forbes,  "more than 85% of all the Fortune 500 companies use the 360 degree feedback process as a cornerstone of their overall leadership development process”. Here are some further examples of how 360 degree feedback has been implemented to inform succession planning decisions.

In its Project Oxygen, Google used its data mining strength to analyse performance review results which included 360 data, employee feedback surveys and correlated phrases, words, praise and complaint information to identify what might be called the “Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers”. These behaviours then became the cornerstone of their leadership development strategy and the basis for succession planning decisions.

A study of the succession planning process for CEOs in a number of Nordic companies highlighted that “assessment of candidates within the pipeline based on independent interactions, in addition to distilled information and planned meetings facilitated by management” was essential in ensuring that they have a CEO with the right skillset in place now and in the future.

Atlassian highlights open dialogue as a key component of their corporate culture. Peer reviews supplement the role of the manager in driving an individual’s development plan and embracing this is one of the defined criteria for success within this business.

These examples from successful organisations highlight the impact of the 360 feedback model and its increasing implementation to drive succession decisions.

The role of technology and the enabler and driver of change

A customisable software solution can automate, collate and interpret the data provided by a 360 feedback process without laborious manual intervention.

Aggregating data can help you to track employee competencies and high potential indicators to spot future leaders and monitor talent pools for critical roles. By creating benchmarks you can run analytics to focus the learning and development needs of your future leaders.

Individuals can identify their development needs to take control of their careers & map their journey within the organisation.

Robust planning, resources to develop your people and a commitment from stakeholders and employees to engage with the process are also key for success. In conclusion we have seen that successful organisations are frequently implementing 360 feedback to provide rich, quality data to inform their talent management strategy. It empowers HR teams, managers and individuals to take control of careers within the business, ensures that competencies are developed and present within the organisation at the appropriate time to drive business success and the correct people are in critical positions now and in the future.

Technology systems like our award-winning Talent 360 tool can enable the change by efficiently managing the process and providing powerful analytics to interpret the data gathered. Communication, training and employee engagement also play their part to ensure your objectives are achieved.

Your next actions:

    1. Download our 360 Feedback Good Practice Guide:
      Get the complete  Good Practice Guide   for 360 degree feedback
    2. Download our Succession Planning eBook:
Sign Up for the Succession  Planning eBook
  1. Take a look at our short 3-minute video:360 degree feedback video
  2. Arrange a demo of our Talent 360 &  Talent Successor solutions
  3. Just hit “Get in touch” to ask us any questions you want to!

Why not jot some ideas down now and take action - and, if you'd like to learn more about using 360 with teams, then get in touch.Get in touch

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