JCB in 360-degree leader sift

Manufacturing firm JCB has reviewed its appraisal and development programme to identify future leaders.

In an ambitious use of 360-degree appraisals, which have been abandoned by some organisations as being too time-consuming, it has generated information on the skills and development needs of all its 200 senior managers. This is fed into an automated system that collects and interprets the data, available to the senior HR and training team.

The practice involves canvassing the views from all the individuals – colleagues, subordinates, customers and line manager – the manager deals with.

JCB uses it for succession planning, after concluding that less rigorous methods provided insufficient data and led to overly subjective decisions on promotions.

“It allows us to make better, more informed decisions, to plan organisational and personal developmental strategies and to benchmark our people against other world-leading companies,” said Paul Pritchard, JCB head of training and development.

Core skills requirements for each management position were established through interviews with executive directors. Training and development is available to managers via the company’s intranet.

Use of 360-degree appraisal has had a chequered past, with some firms finding that managers were uncomfortable with staff views being taken into account, especially where appraisals have been linked to pay.

But many HR consultants argue that it is a powerful tool if it is restricted to giving information on areas for personal development.

“It has to be located in the context of other things that work, such as people having a proper objectives and targets and knowing what it is they are meant to be achieving,” said HR consultant Rhiannon Chapman.

By Philip Whiteley

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