I read recently that doctors, nurses and GPs, might soon be subject to 360 degree feedback as part of their performance appraisal; this would solicit feedback from colleagues, reports and more importantly patients.
It is no surprise that being attended to in a hospital without care, empathy and respect can lead to patients recovering more slowly, or simply recovering physically but still psychologically impaired.
So, as well as having the operation go to plan, you can expect a smile, a warm hand on the shoulder and more of that ‘bedside manner’ which seems to have disappeared lately in our target driven NHS…
Now, if they could just extend this practice to receptionists at my local GP….
A recent ‘hr benchmarker’ survey in Personnel Today, showed the ‘Perceived effectiveness of an employee attitude survey’ – it had specified a number of factors, from clear and meaningful goals for the survey, through to proper administration and analysis, and measured to what degree it had been ‘Fit for Purpose’.
The setting of clear goals, proper administration and analysis of the data had relatively high levels of agreement in being fit for purpose, but by comparison, it was the subsequent communication of the findings and whether action had been taken quickly, that had much lower levels of agreement.
This seems consistent with some of our experience in offering on-line survey solutions; very often we see organisations more concerned with creating an efficient process, at the expense of an effective one.
They are overly concerned with the administration and analysis, with less thought given as to how they should communicate the results to staff and more importantly, act on those results. The latter elements make for an effective survey.
Similarly, with our performance review and 360 degree appraisal solutions, it makes sense to consider what will make those processes effective and not just efficient.
This means thinking about tailored competency frameworks, relevant questions, training for internal staff and follow through on the personal development plans.
I was reading a (from I suspect a competitor) blog post – on successful 360 degree feedback implementation. In summary, they suggest that a successful implementation of 360 feedback uses a generic tool based on generic competencies. They cite that this works because it keeps things simple, reduces the cost of designing a 360 degree feedback competency framework from scratch and tends to be easier to use because it is a simpler system.
I really believe that ease of use is crucial for a 360 system but I wouldn’t link this to using a generic 360 framework. Rather, I think a tailored framework is generally best but this should be implemented in a very simple way – not too many questions, wording that reflects the company, and plenty of opportunity for narrative responses. The essential element is that the system itself and the way it presents the to-do list and questionnaires should be very simple to use.
I agree with the principles behind this post – and perhaps our differences come from the way Bowland Solutions have decided to develop our 360 degree software compared to this company.
Wimbledon is nearly here again and so it is time for a sporting analogy between tennis and performance appraisals!
In fact, any racquet sport will do, as the principle holds that a successful shot, bat, stroke or whatever is strongly influenced by the way the player follows through on that shot – He or she doesn’t merely get in the right position, step back, keep their eye on the ball, draw their arm back and swing towards the ball to make the shot….once they connect with the ball, they follow through…their arm swinging upwards and away from them.
In a recent article I read about how a company successfully implemented an online performance appraisal system, the underlying theme that appeared to create their success, was the way they followed through on the outcomes of the appraisals – they reacted quickly to the training needs that arose from the appraisals, published a clear training plan for all to see, and immediately began booking people onto training courses that were highlighted for them.
Without this follow through, all of the good work could have come undone, as employees would see the exercise as simply ‘ticking the box’ rather than actually delivering on the promise.
And that is what separates the top flight players from the rest, their ability to see something through correctly, every step of the way!
I rarely write about the software side of 360 degree feedback. While that is a large part of Bowland Solutions offering it isn’t what drives us. It is though what brought the company into being.
360 degree feedback has the potential to be a bureaucratic and administrative problem. We have a client who gets feedback on 1000 people from 7 respondents in 2 months. Paper would be achievable but administratively a horror.
360 degree appraisal software should do three things in my opinion.
First, it should make the process simple to administer. That way the HR team can focus on why they are doing the 360 rather than how.
Second, it should make completion of a 360 form on a colleague a painless process. That way giving feedback becomes an exercise in considering how best to provide constructive comments rather than a chore.
Finally, it should make the reporting of 360 degree feedback a timely and positive experience. This allows the individual and the debriefer to discuss the feedback within days of it being collated and to concentrate on the content of the report.
If I were selecting a 360 degree appraisal software provider I would focus on these fundamentals. Most other things are mere noise that distract from the purpose of 360.
I read a great article on the dangers of using 360 degree feedback as part of performance appraisals. I have to say I almost agree with the whole of this article.
At Bowland Solutions we are very cautious about linking what is essentially a development tool into the performance review process – particularly if there is a subsequent link to pay.
I wholeheartedly recommend a full read of this article.
I found myself watching a few minutes of the latest ‘Big Brother’ series (I must have sat on the remote control or something…) and as I watched the latest line of characters interact with each other, I couldn’t help but marvel at their amazing lack of self-awareness.
Given that what we believe is the concept of feedback to elevate peoples’ self perception and awareness, it was sobering to see what a distinct lack of it could create.
Everyone seemed oblivious to their own failings and simply pointed at everyone else’s – rudeness, impatience, inability to listen, etc. Often the very things they were accusing others of, were their own weaknesses projected onto those other people.
Oscar Wilde said “The last thing a man knows is himself”, and given the latest inmates in the Big Brother house this time around, we may have the perfect experiment to illustrate this.
We had an interesting discussion in the office yesterday around how 360 degree feedback could be used to support an initiative to move the management team of an organisation to a different style of management. It so happened that we had been discussing McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y managers and so the debate was framed in this way.
We discussed how first the behavioural statements and their ratings allow the manager to see how those around them view them. However, if we have a Theory X manager on our hands the likely response to a low score on “trusts me too..” is “so, what”. And so, the narrative element of the feedback becomes crucial.
In this case we need the narrative element of the feedback to give the impact of the manager’s behaviour. As a coach debriefing the report you are looking to be able to demonstrate that the distrustful, blameful style of management is leading to staff who don’t think for themselves and do the minimum possible.
It is unlikely that one 360 degree feedback intervention is going to move a manager between the two opposing views of the world described by McGregor but Bowland Solutions strongly believe that giving feedback to managers allows them to make better choices. When part of a coordinated training programme, then 360 degree feedback can give a manager a true insight into how their behaviour is leading their team to act in an undesired manner. Most importantly when designing the questionnaire for a 360 degree appraisal solution the context for the intervention has to drive both the selection of the behavioural statements and the comments sections.