What are the skills required to conduct an effective debrief?

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We have discussed before what feel the role of a ‘debriefer’ is – a debriefer being the person who sits down with a recipient of a 360 degree appraisal cycle and shares the results with them face-to-face.

I suggested that the role of such a debriefer was to act as an intermediary between the recipient and their feedback report – with this in mind, we can consider what the key skills of such a person should be.

Before the session begins, a debriefer should prepare adequately for the session itself – they require the ability to analyse the report in isolation and begin to assess what the themes are that are emerging, patterns that repeat, ratings and comments that differ between different relationship groups, e.g. do the peers believe something very different to the direct reports or boss?

Once into the debriefing session, the debriefer needs to be able to place the recipient at ease sufficiently such that they feel free to express themselves – I find this no different in many respects to any 1-2-1 interaction, but the key difference I feel is that the recipient understands the nature of the session i.e. what YOU are there to do, and that the conversation is confidential – if it isn’t you must say this though.

Establishing some position of trustworthiness is critical to being able to support the recipient through the process.

Not unsuprisingly, listening is an essential skill – actively listening to the recipient and gauging what it is they are really saying will provide you all you need to move constructively through the session.

A temptation is to think about what you are going to say next; how to solve the issue, offer advice, move to action or simply to ask another question…..resist all of these! Listen and you will know what it is the next step..

Asking questions is another key skill in a 360 feedback debrief, but probably warrants another post, so I am going to leave it for now.

All of these skills are discussed in detail during our 1-day training programme for anyone tasked with handling the face-to-face debriefs, be they HR, L & D professionals or Line Managers; feel free to get in touch if you would like to know more.

John

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How to conduct a face-to-face 360 degree feedback debrief

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At Bowland Solutions, we offer an end-to-end process in helping our clients ensure that the 360 degree appraisal cycle is successful in every way – I have mentioned many times that it is the ‘human element’ which is of greatest importance…what do I mean by this?

I believe that it is the sharing of the feedback with the recipient which is one of the most crucial stages in the whole process – the human interaction between the recipient, and as we call them, the ‘debriefer’.

We provide training to the internal HR team in organisations to be able to conduct these 1-2-1 sessions with the recipient and this begins with clearly defining the role of the debriefer.

As a debriefer, you do not own the report, rather you are there to act as an intermediary between the report and the recipient – you are there to facilitate their understanding of the feedback and enable them to effectively act upon it.

This sounds easy and very much like common sense, but all too often we see debriefers feel that their role is to own the report, add their own judgement and opinion, and very quickly move to resolving the issues highlighted in the report.

There is much greater value in simply allowing the recipient to understand what is being said within the report, so that they own the feedback, both positive and negative, and that they come away with a balanced view.

In both helping to raise their self-awareness and enabling them to own the feedback, the recipient is far more likely to then feel responsible for undertaking any actions that are required as a result.

Once this key distinction is made on the part of the debriefer, it reduces the pressure often felt by a debriefer, particularly if they feel the feedback is negative, and ensures maximum value is derived from the 360 feedback process for the recipient.

A practical way for anybody sharing feedback with a recipient would be to state this intention at the beginning of the session by saying "I am simply here to ensure you understand this report".

John

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Using 360 Degree Feedback to understand organisational development needs

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When we conduct face-to-face 360 degree feedback debriefs, the amount of anecdotal evidence we collate can be significant both in volume and importance.

If we have met with all of the senior leadership team within an organisation, we find ourselves able to spot very high level themes emerge that point not only to potential learning & development needs for that group of leaders as a whole, but also strategic issues which may critical to the organisation’s ongoing success.

An example might be that the executive board within the business believes itself to be effective, but through 360 feedback debrief conversations it becomes apparent that it is widely seen as dictatorial and lacking the ability to draw in views and opinions from other senior managers across the company.

The result is a deteriorating morale amongst the senior leadership team and a company failing to harness all of the available talent, ideas, and skills of it’s management team.

Now such a scenario may come under discussion in board/senior management meetings, but sometimes the pervading culture can mean individuals keep their head below the parapet.

360 degree feedback can offer substantive data which an organisation can use to great effect and it shouldn’t just been seen as feedback for the individual; everyone operates in a system with cause and effect.

John


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Jo and Harry’s window on 360 degree feedback

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We’ve been working on putting a Johari window into our report.  One of my colleagues looked up the origin’s of the Johari window and (and maybe I am the only person who didn’t know this) we find out it was developed by two guys called Joseph and Harry…johari.  What a wonderful piece of marketing.

Anyway – 360 feedback works perfectly with it.  Our client is using a Johari window to identify known strengths, hidden strengths, blind spots and known weaknesses.  These are topics that you would regularly draw out in 360 feedback but this is a very simple method of representing the items at a high level.

And Johari window sounds much more exotic than Jo and Harry’s window!

Brendan

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Drive; what motivates people is feedback….360 feedback or otherwise

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In ‘Drive; the surprising truth about what motivates people’ by Daniel Pink, he asserts that people are motivated through a desire to achieve:

- Autonomy
- Mastery
- Purpose
With regard the second element of ‘Mastery’, he notes that “People who are trying to move toward mastery need feedback. And that feedback needs to be rich and regular and substantive.” before adding, “The workplace is one of the most feedback deprived places in modern life.”
A well structured 360 degree feedback process opens up the opportunity for such rich and substantive feedback – If we are serious about enagagement and motivation then paying attention to feedback is an excellent starting point.

John

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Performance Appraisals; where to start when it’s all new?

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During a recent performance appraisals training session I was delivering to a group of Line Managers, some of whom were very experienced whilst others were very new to the role, I was struck by how some simple initial steps can improve the appraisal process immediately.

The group identified three themes which they felt would be a good starting point for them:

  • How they should communicate the importance of the appraisal process and the benefits for employees
  • Ensuring that 1:1s started to happen consistently for all employees; the quality of the 1:1 sessions can improve, but first get them scheduled and conducted regularly to set the expectation
  • Make sure that whatever is discussed, agreed upon, etc is followed up

Points 2 and 3 provide some evidence to the first point; if Line Managers schedule appraisals and follow-ups, then they show it’s important and valued.

The group can then look to how to structure the appraisal conversation, handle difficult feedback, offer positive feedback and develop the core skills over time.

Doing it counts; very skilled Line Managers conducting ad-hoc appraisals with no follow up doesn’t cut it.

John

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