WHITE PAPER — OPTIMIZING YOUR LEADERSHIP PIPELINE INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTORS
Individual contributors need (and want) to know how they are performing, and what they can do to be better. Two tools stand out to accomplish these goals:
Performance Management. At this level, we strongly advocate the use of a solid performance management system to assess individual contributors’ perform- ance. A good system will include goals for the team member, competencies, and development plans. DDI’s Maximizing Performance® system provides these three essential compo- nents. Each plan is designed to spell out goals at the beginning of a review cycle, and those goals will be specific, measura- ble, realistic, and attainable in the given amount of time (typically a year), and relevant to the key function of the team member’s role. Each plan includes compe- tencies appropriate to this level, such as Adaptability, Building Customer Loyalty, or Technical/Professional Knowledge and Skills. Development plans help individual contributors gain new skills, or strengthen and improve existing skills. Individual contributors and their managers should regularly create a development plan that align and set expectations. When it’s time to revisit the plan to assess performance, the pair should review the plan together. During these meetings, the team member receives valuable feedback from his or her leader, and at the end of the conversation should clearly under-
stand how well he or she is performing and what steps to take to be successful moving ahead.
Multirater assessments. At this level, a 360° feedback tool helps individual contributors identify strengths and areas for development based on feedback from managers, peers, internal partners, external suppliers, and customers (as appropriate). DDI’s Leadership Mirror® effectively gathers feedback online, and the Targeted Feedback® approach takes 360° a step further by identifying the top three strengths and development areas so individuals know where to focus their development efforts. These are highly cost-effective tools to assess competencies at this level.
It’s important to be able to assess the readi- ness of individual contributors to take on expanded roles. Some will aspire to lead, but more often, individual contributors want more challenging roles that are not formal management ones (e.g., moving from ‘engi- neer’ to ‘senior engineer’). Organizations need confidence that a person is ready to step into a new role, get up to speed quickly, and deliver good performance without a huge learning curve. With this in mind, three key contextual variables must be considered when choosing a tool to assess readiness:
Risk: What is the danger associated with a poor fit between the individual and his or her new position?
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