360 feedback : are you our ideal client?

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I was asked at a recent marketing seminar : what is your ideal 360 degree feedback client?  It is a great question – extremely helpful from a marketing perspective but also helpful for thinking about the service you offer.

So, are you our ideal client?  If you are, then I believe you would have one or more of the following characteristics.

  • Your primary focus is the individual in the 360
  • You believe that 360 feedback offers a great chance to start a conversation with a recipient which can lead to them taking responsibility for their own development
  • You have your own ideas and welcome our expertise
  • Either you want us to take the process on for you or you have the administrative support ready in-house
  • You’re a small team wanting a big intervention or a large organisation needing a smooth, easy-to-use, process

I ‘m sure I could think of more but when I look at our current clients, all of whom we rely on to be our referees for us, they all fit into one or more of those categories.

If you recognise yourself then get in touch.

Brendan

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360 Degree Feedback: Raising self-awareness and taking responsibility

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During a recent conversation around coaching, one of the group discussing the topic had an interesting background in teaching and working with ‘problem’ children as the media might describe them.

I asked whether there was a common theme to those children who turned things around and were able to forge a better life for themselves; without pause, the answer came ‘they took responsibility for their lives’.

As a coach and specifically in the context of 360 degree feedback debriefs, I am similarly struck by the way in which individuals, having read their 360 feedback report and increased their levels of self-awareness, take varying levels of responsibility for the impact of their behaviours.

Change comes when they say ‘OK, what can I do about this situation?’ rather than absolving themselves by saying ‘Well they would say that’, ‘It’s not my fault, they don’t listen’, etc etc.

There is a lot in the news which talks of people’s rights and how there is a need to emphasise more about people’s responsibilities – the starting point with this shift comes through that age old idea of ‘facing up’ to one responsibilities or becoming self-aware.

John

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Nature is the best designer

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I’ve heard it said so many times that nature is the best designer, there’s something to be said for survival of the fittest. Natures designs that surround us are only there having fought off many other designs to be the best, granted there has been some evolution along the way.

I’m looking into the usability of our 360 degree appraisal and performance review tools and considering where our products need to evolve in order to meet the growing needs of our users, however, I’m now keeping in mind that some of our features have been around in some form or another since the beginning and have stood the test of time. So, maybe those features deserve to remain, albeit after some evolution of their own.

What are your thoughts? Are there features you just can’t live without, features that are great, if only they had a little bit extra? Let us know!

David

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Performance Appraisal Forms: from Paper to Screen (Part 3)

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Following on from Part 2, this is a look into the process of moving a customer’s existing paper-based performance appraisal form into an electronic format, and the benefits that are associated with doing so.

Please state your objective…

Setting and reviewing objectives is a key phase of any performance review. Many customers find it useful to have some continuity on long-term objectives, revisiting those that were set in the previous appraisal.
In a paper-based workflow this would literally be a case of keeping the old form with the new one, and cross-referencing the relevant areas, or worse still, copying the objectives out onto the new form. Either approach is not user-friendly and saps time from the actual ‘meat’ of the process, reviewing and discussing the objectives themselves.
Electronically we can overcome these failings in several ways. Forms can be set up with the option of carrying over objectives of a particular type into the next annual appraisal form, or alternatively only incomplete objectives can be brought forward.
Either way, objectives can automatically be brought into a new performance review without any intervention by the appraisee or their manager, along with any accompanying notes or timescale information, allowing them to get on with the process itself.
Another option to encourage objectives from the appraisee is to set a minimum required number of objectives in each form. On paper, an instruction is possble, but online we can check and alert the appraisee if the mimum count is not met.

More to come soon.

Peter

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Performance Appraisal Forms: from Paper to Screen (Part 2)

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Following on from Part 1, this is a look into the process of moving a customer’s existing paper-based performance appraisal form into an electronic format, and the benefits that are associated with doing so.

Comments?

Employee comments and feedback is what a performance appraisal is all about. A well laid-out form with clear instructions is vital to capturing people’s thoughts efficiently.
A paper-based form is often a compromise between getting enough information onto the page, and leaving enough space for the responses.
Thankfully, online we can forget about these limitations; the focus is primarily on presenting the questions so that they are given enough thought by the appraisee. A popular method of achieving this is to split the form into ‘chunks’ that display separately, meaning that the appraisee can focus fully on one area of the form before moving on to the next.
Additionally, we can display tips and help panels to jog the memory and inspire useful feedback, which again can change or appear/disappear depending on what section is being displayed.
Finally, and crucially, if a section of the form really must be filled in, we can specify required fields and prevent the appraisal from going any further until they’re completed.

More coming soon.

Peter

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Performance Appraisal Forms: from Paper to Screen (Part 1)

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Many of our customers use our software as a means of cutting out the proliferation of paper forms that go hand-in-hand with a manual performance appraisal process.

In this series of posts I’ll try to explain the steps we go through in moving a customer’s existing paper-based form into an electronic format, and the benefits that are associated with doing so.

Who are you?
This is the first question a paper form will commonly ask the appraisee; pre-printed forms tailored individually to an appraisee are very costly, so employees usually end up re-entering their own details onto the form, or their manager will do it on their behalf.

This need not be the case with an online performance appraisal. We are able to import employee data from many HR systems and/or user directories, allowing us to pre-populate a user’s appraisal form with all the relevant information. It’s a small detail, but not having to identify themselves to the company they work for makes the appraisee feel part of the process, let alone saving time that could be better spent elsewhere!

More to come soon.

Peter

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Inspired by passion

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Hearing somebody speak passionately about a subject can be so inspiring, regardless of the subject. Sometimes, however the subject is of importance and can have rather impressive side effects.

Bowland Solutions believes (passionately) in the value of quality feedback and it is this passion that has inspired the development of our performance review and 360 degree appraisal tools to capture this feedback and deliver it out in the best way possible.

Now, those of us of a geeky disposition are passionate about the software we produce, but we feed off this passion to both produce annual performance review tools that we are proud of and create the best environment possible for delivering quality feedback.

Our passion doesn’t stop there though! People who believe in what they are doing inspire others, just as I have been inspired and hopefully, those administering the process are inspired by the tools they are using to deliver it into the organisation. People feed off this and, when driven with vigour, we see greater completion rates and I would hazard a guess that the quality of the feedback is improved also!

I guess I’m going to spend some time thinking about how we can make our tools more inspirational…not a small task I would think!

David

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I want 360 feedback!

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A recent post on the signal vs noise blog grabbed my attention stating that the CEO would be "standing by" to take calls, emails etc between given times on given days. Firstly, a bold and brave move with clear benefits to the customer, but later I started to wonder what is the benefit to the CEO. The answer is quality 360 feedback.

People often talk of exchanging job roles for a day to experience life on the other side of the fence, but this can often be inpractical. A 360 degree appraisal just might be the answer!

I’m very eager to gain feedback from the users of our system, the recipients, respondents and also the administrators.

More on this soon…

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Seeing the wood for the trees in 360 feedback

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A number of our clients have been asking us to draw broader conclusions for their organisation from a 360 degree feedback implementation.  This is a very useful trend.  Having run 360 for a key set of people in an organisation there is a real opportunity to draw out broader learning and development needs.

We support this process by drawing on summary reports, analysis of narrative responses, and the conversations that were held with 360 recipients around their report.  Rather than relying on simple statistical analysis this brings out the real narrative from the 360 feedback.  A report of our findings supports a management discussion that we attend.

I confess to this being one of the most enjoyable elements of our service.  It offers a real opportunity to make a difference in an organisation and makes proper use of the information that has been gathered in the 360 degree feedback exercise.  It rings the last drop of return from the investment.

Brendan

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360 degree feedback for new starters

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Often, new starters are excluded from 360 degree feedback.  The reasoning goes that they are too new for others to have formed a valid opinion of them.  At the extreme of the first few weeks, I agree.  But, after a few months I believe that tailored 360 degree feedback would be very helpful. 

People are forming impressions of you very early – some of those impressions will stick whether they are valid or not.  The earlier that you can get useful feedback the sooner you can tackle the impression you are giving.

If you consider introducing 360 degree feedback for new starters then you should of course take care on the questions – perhaps a full competency framework would not apply yet.  But, consider using 360 feedback as a tool around the 6 month period.

Brendan

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Let me tell you what I’ve done well

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With three separate performance review projects I have been reminded of one of the great benefits of reviewing performance.  Often, performance appraisal projects focus on objective setting and development plans.  But, one of the key reasons that employee’s want performance reviews is to give them the opportunity to discuss the past year and what they’ve done well.

There is a real tendency to skip over this – both in the performance appraisal meeting and in the documentation that supports the meeting.  But, is it too much to ask of a manager that they take a bit of time to review what has gone well and give praise where it is due?

In a recent exercise on working out the employee objectives for a performance appraisal process there was a passionate argument from those contributing to ensure that the opportunity to talk about what went well in the day-to-day job in the past year was recorded and valued.  To my own discredit it took a number of people saying this for the message to get home properly.

Brendan

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Common 360 degree feedback debrief scenarios; the bland report

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Sometimes when debriefing an individual on their 360 degree feedback report, you may find that it is relatively bland or ‘middle of the road’; the individual neither excels in some areas or is deemed to be in serious need of development in others.

This can seem like a difficult scenario to manage; it may feel that there is nothing to celebrate and little to focus on regards development opportunities, so the conversation may fizzle out.

However, the key here is to allow the individual to consider which competencies could become real strengths and make the most difference in their current role.

The development part of this 360 feedback discussion then shifts to ‘do more of this’ and consideration of small adjustments that would have them go from good to great.

John

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The Secret You; combining 360 feedback and self-awareness

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A quick post to point out the most recent ‘Horizon’ programme on BBC2 earlier this week; entitled ‘The Secret You’ it delves into the idea of what is consciousness.

At Bowland we are immersed in 360 degree feedback and the part it plays in raising an individual’s self-awareness, making them more conscious of what decisions they are making, why they are making those decisions and the affect of their subsequent behaviour on others.

Fascinating stuff!

John

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What Not Applicable can tell you

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I’ve just completed a 360 degree feedback analysis report for a client.  The analysis covers themes that have come out from the 360 feedback reports and the debrief sessions that we held of the recipients.  Most of the report is high level recommendations of the next steps that should be taken.  Effectively, the client is looking to maximise the benefits from the exercise.

As part of the analysis, I’ve looked at the questionnaire to ensure it has performed well as a method of gathering feedback.  One part of that analysis is to look at where we have a large number of "not applicable"s selected by respondents.

In general, if one respondent group (often peers) answers not applicable more than 20-25% of the time then I suggest you consider taking that question out of the pool of behaviours next time for that respondent group.  This tightens the questionnaire, improves the report, and reduces the burden on the respondents.

However, sometimes "not applicable" is more useful.  If the question you are asking really should be a behaviour that his group can respond on then "not applicable" can mean "not evidenced".  And that can be interesting.  Why are the direct reports unable to comment on delegation?  Why are the peers saying "not applicable" to sharing of knowledge?

Analysing the general output of 360 degree feedback iss always worthwhile – it gives you the opportunity to improve your next 360 and it offers you the opportunity to draw out the big lessons at a group level.

Brendan

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The purpose of performance appraisals

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Here is an excerpt from our recently published white paper on how to successfully implement performance appraisals in your organisation.

Purpose

An oft-missed step. For many organisations, performance appraisals are a given – often written into the company’s procedures manual. Because we rarely decide whether to do
performance appraisals we sometimes forgot to ask “why are we doing this?”.

First, we recommend that you explicitly separate the organisational objectives from the personal development objectives. While they overlap and of course it could be argued that they are the same, this split allows you to meet the two stakeholders needs openly.

Organisational objectives for performance appraisals

  • Clarifying and defining performance expectations
  • Facilitating communication and involvement
  • Allocating financial rewards
  • Determining promotion
  • Motivating employees
  • Controlling employees actions
  • Succession planning
  • Cultural change initiatives
  • Training needs analysis

Individual objectives for performance appraisals

  • Identify training needs
  • Identify development requirements
  • Gain feedback on performance
  • Promote own capabilities to organisation
  • Understand expectations

It may be that you do not agree with these lists and almost certainly you would have other objectives to add. Our point is that the building of this list is crucial for it is the yardstick against which you can evaluate your current processes, any changes you design and the final implementation.

Brendan

To download this performance appraisal white paper please click on this link.

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How to successfully implement a performance appraisal in your organisation

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This is the title of our latest white paper.  Here, I’ve provided the introduction and structure of that paper.  Please download our performance appraisal white paper if this looks of interest to you.

Introduction

Performance appraisals promote a lot of commentary. Most commentators propose one solution and suggest all others are wrong (and invariably suggest that all managers are evil). In this white paper we have taken a different route. We are not without opinion, however our most common finding having worked with a large number of clients is that performance appraisals are generally a good thing but what works for one client does not
work for the other. A dogmatic approach to performance appraisals is likely to leave you unable to implement anything.

Structure

So, this white paper works by first giving some background on each topic area, some thoughts, even some suggested reading, and then it lays out the decisions you should be making. We believe this route ensures that a well-considered performance appraisal is implemented but does not pretend to know what the best appraisal process is for you.

The document is structured in the order that we would recommend you think about performance appraisals. You don’t have to but its the way we work!

Brendan

Download the white paper from this link

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Performance appraisal white paper available

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Our performance appraisal white paper is now available. 

The white paper offers our thoughts on the options that are open to you as you look to implement performance appraisals within your organisation.  Rather than a prescriptive or opinionated view of what you should do the paper accepts that each organisation has different needs of the performance review process and simply looks to give our experience of what works well and the options you should consider.

You can access your copy of the paper by visiting this link.

Brendan

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Free Seminar: “How to successfully introduce a 360 degree feedback process into your organisation” – Limited places available

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We have been running some client seminars recently and the feedback has been so positive that we have decided to put a new seminar together and make it available to all.

Title: “How to succesfully implement a 360 degree feedback process within your organisation”
Date:  December 2009
Venue: Central London

 

  • Understand the critical factors that will ensure success when introducing 360 into your business
  • Take away a checklist to help you work logically through the implementation process
  • Appreciate the key principles that will help you design a great questionnire, communicate    effectively to get company wide ‘buy-in’ and facilitate face-to-face debriefs.

This seminar will be very interactive and allow plenty of opportunity to network with other delegates, discuss best practice and offer ample time for Q & A if you have specific issues to be addressed. Places will be free but limited, so f you would be interested in attending please forward an email to john@bowlandsolutions.com and we will send you specific details in due course.

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What are we trying (not) to do?

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I have recently been investigating the functionality of our online 360 degree appraisal and performance review tools. We’re looking into ways in which we can improve the overall process. This led me to question "What are we trying to do?".

At Bowland Solutions, we live and breathe annual performance reviews and 360 degree feedback, all day, every day. It would be wrong to think that most of our users do the same, though it can be all too easy to forget this. For the average user,  the quality is not in the system, but in the feedback they receive. So, to answer my own question, the goal of our online feedback tools is to get out of the way and allow the users to leave quality feedback unhindered and deliver this feedback to the recipient in a clear, concise manner.

With that in mind, maybe the question itself is wrong? Maybe it should be "What are we trying not to do?".

I’ll keep you posted on my research in this area, but if you have any ideas or feature requests for either our 360 feedback or performance appraisal tools then feel free to drop us an email, we really do value the feedback!

David

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360 feedback : its not about being perfect

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When debriefing a competitive individual, I’m often asked – what did everyone else score? Or, I find the recipient desperately trying to get all of their "scores" as high as possible.

Rather than trying to be great at everything – an outcome that if copied by everyone in an organisation would result in a set of identikits causing havoc – 360 degree feedback offers an opportunity to understand the impact of your behaviour on others and then to choose where you act differently. 

When debriefing, I sometimes ask the recipient; "Does this matter?"  This can particularly help when the recipient is at risk of trying to change too much.  It helps to prioritise and it also helps to acknowledge that no matter how tailored a set of questions have been asked of your respondents, some items just don’t matter as much as others.  It can also introduce an organisational or tactical bias to the debate.  It may be desirable to improve on a particular competency but if the organisational focus and need is elsewhere, then it can wait for now.

360 degree feedback is much more about awareness and choices than it is about seeking perfection or high scores.

Brendan

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