JT (formerly known as Jersey Telecom) has adopted a pioneering, assessment-focused approach to embed the leadership skills needed to continue to deliver its global growth strategy.

Talent Q, the talent assessment specialist, created bespoke assessments which are being used before and after development interventions, initially by 24 senior leaders who are the chief drivers of growth in JT’s business. The approach will then be cascaded down to different levels, to enhance the skills of the entire organisation and support JT in its ambitions and growth over the next five years.

“Having evolved from a civil service-led culture, we wanted to foster a new level and depth of leadership skills in the organisation in order to help us work more dynamically and compete on an increasingly global stage,” said Nicola Reeves, Head of Performance & People Development at JT. “Instead of running a conventional training course, we wanted to instil in our leaders 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.”

Talent Q mapped JT’s leadership competency framework against its Dimensions personality questionnaire and designed a bespoke 360-degree feedback questionnaire to assess the actual behaviours and performance of the senior leaders. It also worked with JT to create a template and ‘gold standard’ role profile of an ‘ideal’ JT leader.

“Combining a personality questionnaire with 360-degree feedback enables senior leaders to compare both how they perceive themselves, and the behaviours that they think they portray, against a ‘reality check’ of how they are seen by others,” said Nicola. “This gives them a much more rounded picture and helps to drive real change.”

In one-to-one sessions, the senior leaders then receivedfeedback on their strengths and their development gaps, as well as support and guidance to create their own development plans. Taking this one-to-one approach has allowed JT to accelerate leadership development at a greater rate across its top tier of leaders.

“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 senior leaders are choosing their own development interventions to meet their needs – 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.”

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.

Having established this initial workstream, JT is now cascading this approach down to the 35 managers who report to this senior leadership team, so activating a filter down approach. A third stage will then be conducted for employees further down the organisation (in particular for ‘young talent’), to embed key skills and to help identify candidates for succession planning.

“Talent Q’s assessments have already provided us with invaluable data and the insights we need to up-skill the organisation and support top-down cultural change,” said Nicola. “This will enable us to continue to deliver a world-class service and to achieve our five-year growth targets.”