How Jabil is Developing Tomorrow's Leaders Today

How Jabil is Developing Tomorrow's Leaders Today

Jabil has grown over the past 50 years into one of the world's most premier outsource manufacturing companies. In 2015, profit increased by 17.7%, demonstrating that growth continues. However, Jabil is not resting on its past success. They have identified a number of new challenges that may impact future growth:

  • They have diversified their portfolio into new business divisions, resulting in new skillset needs
  • They continue to move into diverse geographies, managing a more complex supply chain
  • Many of their senior leaders will transition out of the organisation in the coming years, passing leadership to a new generation of leaders
  • Technology is changing how they work and the products they sell to customers, making innovation increasingly important
  • Business analytics are becoming increasingly important to business performance

To address these challenges, senior leaders created a strategy to grow new revenue streams and build new company capabilities. To enable this Jabil 2.0 strategy, they knew that they needed to identify new leader capabilities and build processes to select, develop, and promote leaders based on this new profile.


At its core, Jabil cares about its people and wants to develop and grow them into bigger roles. Their HR Talent Management team took up the challenge to examine and update all of its processes to enable the Jabil 2.0 strategy. To do this, the team needed to develop new knowledge and gain an external perspective. They partnered with Organisation Solutions to get this perspective and to help them define and make the changes needed.


Step 1: Define Future Leader Profile


Jabil's leadership model had 15 competencies divided into five sections. Although the model had served them well, they were concerned that it was not sufficient to meet future needs. The model focused on intrapersonal characteristics instead of capabilities for leaders to get results through others. Many of the competencies overlapped and several key skills were missing.


They started by examining Organisation Solutions' Growth Leader Framework, which includes capabilities that differentiate average and superior leaders of growth. Based on this, they identified a broad set of capabilities to test with leaders. Each capability they selected had to be:

  • Aligned to the strategy. All future capabilities had to be defined to deliver the Jabil 2.0 strategy
  • Simple and measurable. Capabilities had to be easily understood, observed, and assessed
  • Focused on interpersonal skills. Capabilities had to focus on how leaders work with and engage others
  • Consistent with Jabil's values. Jabil wanted to keep the values that made it successful, but redefine these to be action oriented

Senior leaders across the company helped prioritise their capabilities. In the end, they identified 10 capabilities around three important areas: Live Our Values, Build Capability for Growth, and Take Others with You. At a high level, some of the capabilities (e.g., integrity) resemble capabilities for leaders at any company. At a more detailed level, each is defined in terms of observable behaviour, is action oriented, and is designed to help leaders drive growth and achieve results through others.


Step 2: Design New Approach to 360° Assessment


Jabil had a 360 tool but wanted a refresh of content and approach. They found that the tool did not differentiate well across or within leaders; ratings were simply high across most leaders. Leaders found themselves receiving many high ratings and few comments that suggested needed improvement.


To gather input based on their new leadership model, Jabil used Organisation Solutions' 100% Definition solution. A 100% definition describes the ideal outcomes in an area if the person executes it perfectly. For example, instead of defining actions in a capability such as "Collaboration," a 100% definition defines the outcomes of that collaboration at a certain level in the organisation. The 100% acts as target towards which leaders can strive. In the 360, each leader receives two types of information: a stakeholder's rating against the 100% definition and feed forward of how they can better achieve 100%.


Jabil started at the top, having their senior team use the new 360. They found that ratings better differentiated leaders, i.e. not all ratings were high. More importantly, leaders received a significant amount of input on how to improve in targeted areas. This approach is now being extended deeper in the organisation.


Step 3: Revamp and Modernise Executive Assessments


Jabil had a long history of developing and selecting executives with valid assessments. They wanted to modernise these and ensure they measured against their new leadership model. Although their previous assessments were valid, they were dated, overlapping, and narrow in scope and did not benchmark their leaders against other leaders. Moreover, the reports did not map to their old leadership model, let alone the new model.


To address this, a new assessment process was created that aligned with the leadership model. This assessment:

  • Takes and integrates approach to leader potential. Jabil wanted to take a holistic approach to assessing leaders to ensure they captured different aspects of potential. They used Organisation Solutions' integrated model of potential to ensure that they gathered information in a number of areas including Foundation Measures (stable measures such as personality), Growth Measures (e.g., learning, resilience), Performance Measures, and Job Fit (career experiences, Values)
  • Uses multiple measures to understand leaders. Jabil had always used multiple measures and methods to paint a complete picture of leaders. They wanted to continue this good practice in the new assessment. This resulted in eight different assessments including self-report measures, experience profiles, and a structured interview
  • Benchmarks against other executives. Most of the assessments used allowed for easy benchmarking against other executives, giving Jabil a better understanding of how their leaders stacked up against the competition. This helps them make better decisions to ensure they have the best leaders to enable their future strategy

Their new assessment summarises data from these assessments and presents it within their leadership model framework. Jabil's focus is to provide insight to their leaders while also putting this insight into actionable development plans.


Step 4 and Beyond


Jabil is now looking at taking its efforts down into the organisation by identifying a simpler set of assessments that can be scaled to its larger manager population. Their goal is to have an integrated process that assesses and develops managers into director level roles and directors into VP roles. This includes assessments, development tools, and options as well as great execution to ensure leaders gain from the experience and are ready for next level jobs.


Jabil has engaged its leaders well throughout the development process to gain commitment. They suggest a few other key learnings that any company can use to revamp and update their model and assessments:

  • Leadership Models Should Drive Strategy. Most leadership models are based on competencies of successful leaders. Jabil went beyond this to identify forward-looking capabilities that will enable its strategy. They defined what senior leaders must do in each area to achieve success through others and defined the outcomes expected if they execute the capabilities well
  • 360s should Turn Insight into Action. 360s have become a checklist item for organisations, resulting in long reports with little impact. Jabil took a different approach that allows them to better gather specific actions for development and measurement. This gives their leaders more insight and actionable suggestions
  • Innovate with Evidence. Jabil wanted to innovate its practice but ensure it did this based on evidence of what works. They looked at research and practice when defining their tools. At the same time, they created and adopted new approaches that will give them a competitive edge over time. Strong leader engagement throughout the process ensured that they struck the right balance of innovating new direction and tools while acknowledging the best of what has worked in the past

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