Selecting your own questions

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Does one size fit all?

Wehave been providing 360 degree appraisal systems for 6 or 7 years now.One trend that we have noticed is a move to having recipients have somecontrol over the questions that are asked. At one extreme we haveresponded to this with a full self service appraisal solution But for most of our corporate clients the requirement is to allow therecipient to tailor their questionnaire or simply select thecompetencies that they should be assessed upon.

We see this as agreat development. It assists the process of gaining the recipient'sbuy-in to their own feedback, reduces the number of questions that arenot relevant, and often reduces the overall question count as there isno need for a superset of questions that everyone is asked.

Afree-for-all is not the answer of course. Instead, we encourageorganisations to set the overall framework – perhaps including somecore competencies that are asked of everyone. Optional competencies arethen selected from a range designed by HR or with our involvement.

Aswell as selecting competencies we are also seeing requests to selectthe questions that are to be asked. For a given competency the companymay offer up 6 alternatives with the recipient selecting the 4 they seeas most appropriate.

We beleive the benefits of an online 360 degree appraisal systemare starting to be realised as the introduction of practices thatimprove 360 are being introduced at the same time as costs are reducedthrough a move from a paper-based procedure.

360 degree appraisals from Bowland Solutions

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Getting them to do it

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How to get a 95% and above completion rate

Anumber of our clients approach us because they have had a poorexperience with 360 feedback and yet they still see it as a tool thatwill offer effective feedback for their team or organisation. One ofthe key issues they face is that they cannot get enough people tocomplete the feedback.

Here are some of our hints and tips that we provide people on ensuring they hit a high completion rate.

Let me get the "you would say that, wouldn't you" one out of the way. We recommend you put the 360 online. Bowland Solutions provides online 360 degree feedbackso there is no surprise there. Now, lets get a list of reasons why thiswill help and what you need to do to increase that feedback rate.

  • Make sure the questions, the branding, the reports, the communications are all tailored – don't use some off-the-shelf set of questions and standard set of reports. People spot quickly that this is not quite right for them.
  • Keep the questions limited to just what you need to get the feedback required. As a rule of thumb, something like 30 questions is often right.
  • Keep the numbers giving feedback to a sensible amount
  • Watch out for the peer group – they often have the most feedback to give.
    • Limit to 3 peers per recipient
    • Consider asking the peers a subset of the questions
  • Communicate why this is a good thing
  • Give people enough time to complete – we recommend 3 weeks
  • If you can – make the recipient the person in control of the process. That way they will chase down their respondents for you.
  • Chase them by email
  • Chase them by email again
  • Phone them

We hit 95% completion feedback rates – not every time, but often enough to know that it is readily achievable.


Find out more about 360 degree appraisal solutions with Bowland Solutions

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Virgin Trains work with new self-service 360 tool

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A recent project with Virgin Trains has seen us introduce our new self-service 360 degree feedback tool called myown360 - It's an online360 degree feedback solution that enables users to invite feedback from anyonewith an email address without having to buy an off-the-shelf  application or have us create a tailored system just for them.

It has been established using a well researched and validated competency framework, producedby our partner "Peter Hyde ManagementConsulting" – The framework has 30 competencies and users can choose which specific competencies and behaviours theywant feedback on to create their own unique questionnaire.

Theythen simply enter details of who they want feedback from and send an invitationfrom within the system for them to log-in and complete the questionnaire. Assoon as everyone has completed, the individual has a comprehensive report whichis easy to interpret and act upon.

What has been of particular interest is where we have trained the HR team to be able to conduct well-structured and productive debriefs with the individual receiving feedback – no matter what the tool or process, it is always handling the 'human element' correctly that matters most.

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How many is too many?

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Deciding how many raters to have in your feedback

Thisis way up there in the "what do you get asked most" table. Many of ourclients immediately recognise the conflict between having lots ofraters – to get the most rounded feedback – and keeping rater numberslow to stop the procedure becoming too burdensome.

Let me startwith our recommendation and then work back. We recommend 8-12 raters.Anything under 6 and we start to worry; anything over 15 and we worryabout that as well (we worry about our clients see!)

The factors that move you toward a lower number are:

  • burden (linked to how many questions there are in the appraisal – I'll write about that another time),
  • desire to get a tight set of feedback results, and
  • a desire to ensure everyone who gives feedback has something useful to say.

The factors that make you move to a larger number are:

  • anonymity – another broad topic for another day, but you do need a quorum of responses if you wish to retain anonymity
  • wishing to make the process as inclusive as possible
  • having a range of roles you want feedback from (external peers, internal peers, customers, suppliers, etc.) – a real benefit of an online 360 degree appraisal system

Whatwe would say is that big is not necessarily better. After a certainlevel you will find that you can't see the wood for the trees. Whengiving feedback you actually find the volume of information -particularly from narrative sections – overwhelming and so will therecipient.

As a sweeping generalisation, we recommend boss,self, 3-4 peers, 3-4 direct reports. We see, and recommend, a greatdeal of variation from that set-up but it's a good starting place.


Find out more about 360 appraisal systems with Bowland Solutions

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