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Jon Kennard


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Insight: Achieving top-down cultural change


JT (formerly known as Jersey Telecom) has adopted a pioneering, assessment-focused approach to embed the skills needed to continue to deliver global growth.
Jersey Telecom rebranded to become JT in 2011, to reflect the fact that its operations, and its products and services, had moved beyond Jersey and beyond telecoms.
A five-year growth strategy outlines JT's plans for expansion and this has acted as a catalyst for change in the organisation.
“Our old way of working was methodical and process-driven and we now need a new level and depth of leadership skills in the organisation to help us to work more dynamically and compete on an increasingly global stage,” said Nicola Reeves, Head of Performance & People Development at JT. “Our 24 senior leaders are the ones who will drive the growth in the business, so it was logical to start a development initiative with them, as they set the example for everyone else.”
JT’s HR team facilitated a discussion in which the senior leaders debated what type of leadership would be needed to meet the challenges of the future.
“With them, we agreed on five core leadership competencies,” said Nicola. “They decided which behaviours should be included, so the resultant competency framework is theirs, not something that has been imposed upon them.”

Assessment focus

The conventional solution of simply running a training course around these competencies was disregarded, in favour of a more assessment-focused approach.
“In the past, we’ve invested in leadership development, and it has been enjoyable, but nothing has really changed as there’s been no measurement, no metrics and no consequences,” said Nicola. “We wanted to instil in people a real desire to improve, through an active engagement process which focussed on long-term and on-going assessment and support. We felt the best way to do this would be to measure them at the start of a process, put specific development goals in place, allow them to choose their own interventions and then measure them afterwards to see the improvement.”
JT chose to partner with Talent Q to create its new assessment-focused approach to development.
“Having used various assessments from other providers in the past, I’d become quite disillusioned but Talent Q have a fresh, ‘new school’ approach to psychometrics and a strong track record of success,” said Nicola.
Talent Q mapped JT’s leadership competency framework against its personality questionnaire and designed a bespoke 360-degree feedback questionnaire to assess the actual behaviours and performance of the senior leaders. The company also helped to identify the specific behaviours that sit underneath each competency.
Talent Q worked with JT to create a template and ‘gold standard’ role profile of an ‘ideal’ JT leader.
“We deliberately made our ideal leader profile highly aspirational, as we didn’t want our senior leaders to think they didn’t need to change,” said Nicola. “We wanted gaps between each person’s profile and the ideal profile, to give them areas for development. The ideal leader profile has proved invaluable as we can also use it as a benchmark in recruitment and succession planning.”

Development activity

JT and Talent Q ran a leadership development event where the senior leaders undertook the assessments. Nicola Reeves, together with JT’s HR Director and Talent Q's Head of L&D ran one-to-one sessions with each senior leader, to offer feedback on their strengths and their development gaps, as well as support and guidance to create their own development plans. Each senior leader then sat down with a director to prioritise their areas for development.
“The senior leaders are choosing their own development interventions to plug their gaps - such as learning resources, coaching or training programmes - and this highly tailored programme allows them to effectively do this, whilst still supporting the overall JT framework,” said Nicola. “Where common needs exist across the group, we’ll run focused development sessions. The senior leaders are also working together informally to share knowledge and ideas.”
After a six-month period, the senior leaders will be re-assessed, via 360-degree feedback, to review the impact of their development. Reassessments will then be conducted annually as part of the appraisal process.

Cascading the approach

JT is cascading this process down to the 35 managers who report to the senior leadership team.
“Our management population will go through a similar process but they’ll be mapped against different competencies specific to their level,” said Nicola. “They’re keen to participate because they know the leaders have been through this process. We’ll then move on to a third stage for employees further down the organisation - in particular for ‘young talent’. This will help us to embed key skills and to identify candidates for succession planning.”

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Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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