We often advertise how flexible we are with the way we report or score 360 degree appraisals. We do not dictate whether you use spider graphs, bar charts, frequency maps, or a myriad of report formats. We also avoid constraining people on their rating scales.
While it is correct that Bowland Solutions should not restrict our clients I do think some restraint is required in the interests of the recipients. Unless there is a standard rating scale in your organisation that everyone is set to, then a simple set of responses (e.g. Strength, Appropriate, Development Need) is clear and clean. If you require some form of scoring for team based reports or organisational analysis then 1, 2, and 3 work very well.
We are seeing an increasing trend to complicate the scoring (ignore scores below 2, 1/2 point scoring, percentages that are not percentages). While this may suit the corporate requirement it can only complicate the feedback for the individual.
I re-iterate that we make no constraint on the client requirement and there are often very good reasons why a complex scale is required…but if I was starting with a clean piece of paper I would keep the rating scale very, very simple.
Xmas is almost upon us and as we pondered what to have on our Xmas e-card this year, I was tickled by a suggestion for the design by our Marketing partner – they had an idea to have a picture of Santa, begraggled after a night of travelling the world to deliver all the presents, standing in the middle of his reindeer and toy making elves, with the caption…"So? How did I do?"…..playing with the notion that even Santa had an annual 360 degree appraisal made me realise I should get out more…..now, what’s this email just come in from Lapland….
I know that my colleague, Brendan, has picked up on this very issue, but I thought I would add my own metaphor which I shared with a client the other day, when they expressed an interest in having ‘averages’ for the ratings.
They perceived that this would make life easy for the reader and for managers trying to get a quick handle on how someone is ‘performing’ against a certain competency.
However, as we talked about what the purpose of the 360 degree feedback was, which we agreed was to provide an individual with some detailed feedback that would help them change & improve, then he could see that averaging wouldn’t help in this regard.
I attempted to illustrate my point with the story of 3 mathematicians off hunting in the woods one day looking for pheasant – as they saw one nearby, the first mathematician took aim, fired and missed just to the left of the bird. The second mathematician then took aim, fired and missed just to the right of the bird.
At that point, the third mathematician put his gun down, and exclaimed "Well done gentlemen! On average, I think we hit it!".
As well as getting a mild laugh(!), my client agreed that averaging just doesn’t give you the real story…..
That was the BBC headline story a few days ago, citing the results of a survey conducted by ‘Investors in People’.
The report is interesting in that a large amount of discontent with performance appraisals arose from the appraisers ability (we mean a ‘Manager’) to do a good job both at the appraisal session and during the year itself.
Staff felt that managers had been dishonest, not provided feedback during the year, hadn’t tackled issues, and were in some cases simply ‘ticking boxes’.
Underneath all of this I suspect are two groups of people, both staff and managers, who actually do believe that appraisals are not a waste of time, IF they are handled correctly.
Staff do want feedback on how they are doing, otherwise they wouldn’t complain about not getting any throughout the year, and similarly managers are often just crying out for the skills and a time efficient way of conducting appraisals.
I think there is an opportunity for both parties to come together on this and both take some more responsibility to make appraisals work – and as ever there are online tools which can help them do the job by providing the ability to pass documents between them & collaborate more easily on appraisal forms, with many of our clients looking to devolve the whole process more and more to the employee themself.
I mentioned in a previous post the my wife recently completed a 360 degree appraisal on the managers in her childrens nursery. She gave some valuable feedback on the process which I will share here.
First let me explain how our self service 360 system works. With Peter Hyde, we have developed www.myown360.com . Peter produced a comprehensive competency framework across a range of competencies and their associated behaviours. The client selects the competencies that best suits them (if they just want feedback on themselves) or their team. A selection of respondents is chosen and everyone completes the feedback.
Here is my wife’s feedback
- The managers were nervous coming into the process
- The managers did though want to get the feedback and felt valued to be part of the process
- The respondents took great care over their behavioural rankings and over the narrative elements of the feedback
- They struggled a little with the language (a learning point for us as we had reduced the jargonese but not far enough)
- The feedback sessions were extremely powerful
- To do it properly (preparation, discussion, completion, review, create development plan) takes a significant investment of time
- You had to follow itup with a development plan
When I read this list I realise that the size of the organisation has not in any way affected the feedback. I am also reminded of the power of a well run 360 degree feedback process.