360 Feedback: It's About The Conversations That Follow prompted a series of thoughtful comments and reactions. They were so dead-on that I thought it would be useful to continue the topic by extending the thoughts of those who took time to weigh in.
This post will be a little bit longer than usual because I've listed a sample set of process steps near the end.
More Good Reasons to Use 360 Degree Feedback
1. Jim Stroup at Managing Leadership points out that "one-on-one verbal conversations can be problematic, because people want to be helpfully critical, but don't want their observations to become the basis for a confrontation."
The ability to start by responding in writing--then having a follow up conversation--allows both people time to think through things more clearly and have a discussion that's focused on the performance, not the person. And having a third party available to help the discussion is useful, if needed.CA
2. CA writes about a small business VP who wanted to do a 360 but said that comments about the CEO were off limits.
Well, 360's are used to provide feedback to specific people about their personal impact. So, it wouldn't be useful to comment about a third party anyway. I would wonder, though, about an atmosphere that intentionally stifled the impact of people related to performance. And I think a CEO would fall into that category!
3. CA also noted that it's "not personal." I understand what is meant by that, but the fact of the matter is, it's always personal. At least I've never seen anyone totally separate "themselves" from the feedback and remain detached.
The good news: More often than not, 360's give recipients positive information about areas in which they are exceeding expectations and performing even better than they realized.
4. Robyn McMaster added a powerful and easy-to-implement step with this:
"Ask the person what she likes most about your leadership style. And then ask what style the manager could use to engage more of "my" talents [employee].
My sense is that this is a two way street and that the manager can grow through this experience as well as the employee."
5. Dr. Ellen Weber, Robyn's associate at Brain-Based Business , says:
"I love the idea of discussion to follow the data -- and yet I have reservations when I do not know how the exchange will be facilitated.
. . .what about the guy who interprets the data funny to begin with or the gal who comes in with an agenda. Too many people are not getting feedback that doubles as a growth plan. Instead they get zapped with somebody's data. When possible, I like to create feedback as a process. . ."
Having a solid process is a hallmark of good 360 implementation.
Here Is One Process You Can Use
I'm in the middle of a series of 360s for a client company now. While this is not the only way to do 360's, it's what was decided and agreed to. And it is going well.
1. The sponsoring (in this case CEO) executive meets with the people who (s)he would like to receive 360 degree feedback. The purpose of the meeting is to explain what it is, why it's being done (developmental plan), and the logistics.
2. If the people involved don't already know me, I'm introduced and explain my role.
3. There are three constituencies who provide feedback:
a. The boss
b. Direct Reports
c. Peers/Colleagues. These are people outside of the reporting chain who rely on the recipients for information sharing, coordination, resources, etc. These people collectively reflect a manager's willingness and ability to work with and influence those who are important to a company's success but who don't provide the pay raise or deliver the immediate team results. Note: I always work with the individuals to designate who might be included here. This can sometimes be a revealing discussion in itself and offer some "Aha's."
3. All of the 360's I use are done online.
4. When the results are complete, I send them to the sponsoring executive to read. They are not to be discussed and I've not had anyone to date violate that.
5. I meet with the sponsoring executive to review and help interpret the developmental meaning of the data. We have a lengthy discussion until we're both satisfied that the possible/likely meaning within the data have been identified.
5. I then meet one-on-one with each of the recipients to review the results (which they have received and read). I start by asking them their "take" on the meaning, then we work through each of the elements together.
6. Each recipient prepares a personal development plan--albeit cursory--to discuss with the sponsor.
7. Then, each meets with the sponsor (CEO) and discusses ways to reinforce or improve, depending upon the issue. The sponsor is coached in advance NOT to ask for a shopping list of changes. The magic number is 3. If an executive can meaningfully improve 3 important aspects of organizational life, that's a huge win.
8. Depending on the agreement, either the sponsor, myself, or both of us follow up on progress. This adds importance to the activity and allows for re-direction as well as finding ways to help the individuals involved learn what they need to learn.
9. Sometimes another 360 is done to measure progress, sometimes not. The interesting thing about a second 360 is that expectations change. How people are "scored and commented on" differs from the first to the second. The expectations of those filling out the responses usually increases. They figure that if the executive took their first feedback to heart and had a chance to work on it, that they should certainly have improved. So when there is a second 360, it's more important to look at the behavioral comments than at the numerical scores.
Please join in with a comment on any aspect of 360 Feedback that you'd like the community to think about. This conversation is meaningful to a number of people.
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Photo Attribution: gregegan.customer.netspace.net.au
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