Performance Appraisal; a ‘protected conversation’?

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Recent news report on Nick Clegg declaring the Government’s desire to help employers tackle the fear of employee/employer tribunals, by creating ‘protected conversations’ which are ineligible in such proceedings.

Taking aside the fact as to whether it will indeed help remove supposed tiresome ‘red-tape’ for companies and fuel economic growth, it seems like an idea ripe for abuse, potentially by employers and employees alike.

There is no doubt that underperforming employees can be a serious drain on an organisation, but often ineffective line management can be the critical underlying element.

Open and honest communcation between employees and their line managers is needed all the time, as part of the ongoing cycle of performance management, performance appraisals and continuous feedback, not just when things can be taken ‘off-the-record’.

Such a device could serve to undermine the relationship between an individual and their boss, as well as hiding potentially poor line management skills and lack of confidence.


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360 Degree Feedback Reports; what works, when and why?

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 We recently announced the release of our newly revised 2011 edition of our whitepaper, "Succesfully implementing 360 degree feedback; a guide for HR professionals" - a key difference with this new version is the amount of detail around 360 feedback reporting.

It’s a crucial element; the report has to be easy to understand such that the recipient can draw meaning and insight to aid their thinking around their own development.

Too often reports are lengthy, repetitious, overly analytical and with data that provides no discernible benefit.

Fundamentally, the report dictates the type of conversation one will have in the face-to-face debrief; a range of different styles is shown below:

If it’s reflective (Style A) of everyone’s ratings without averaging, then the conversation will spend more time drawing out those differences between the different categories of respondent; a question might be:

"We have a real range of responses here within the different groups. Lets explore those responses."

By contrast, if it’s statistical (Style B)  then the conversation will focus on norms, benchmarking and comparison; a question might be:

"You have scored below the company average, yet rate this as a strength yourself. What are your thoughts?"

360 Degree Feedback Reporting Styles
360 Degree Feedback Reporting

One can quickly see that how the feedback is presented is as important as getting the feedback in the first place.

If you would like the whitepaper sent to you automatically, then you can sign-up and confirm your interest in the box opposite.


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Performance Appraisals; a top 5 checklist for having the right mindset

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In a previous post I referenced a CIPD presentation which I had delivered on the importance of feedback in the workplace and how it underpinned employee engagement and hence improved organisational performance.

There were 3 key elements to consider; context (which was covered in the previous post), mindset and process/model.

Let’s take the second element, mindset; what makes for the right mindset when approaching performance appraisals?

If you believe it to be a waste of time, an awkward conversation where you chastise a direct report, and largely ineffective, then it will be all of those things and more.

Shifting your mindset to one which is more constructive is a big step, in any endeavour, and for performance appraisals we would suggest the following checklist as a starting point:

1. Research has shown that those managers who have a genuine interest in the wellbeing, performance and development of their direct reports, and thereby enjoying closer relationships, are better able to enhance engagement within individuals.

2. With closer relationships, founded on trust, more open & honest conversations can emerge.

3. Conversations are two-way, and performance appraisals should be just that; a dialogue not a diatribe.

4. Conversations are ongoing and build on each other; performance appraisal is a continuous and ongoing cycle of conversations, not a singular event.

5. The nature of the conversations are centered around feedback, based on evidence, and with a genuine desire to help an individual to learn and develop.

This checklist is by no means exhaustive but helps focus the mind on the individual and the conversation rather than a process to be completed.

More to follow; if there is interest in the whole CIPD seminar and a desire to run it with your own team or group then do let me know.


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How to spot a psychopath….just read the 360 degree feedback

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Never one to underplay the power of 360 degree feedback (!), this Green Left article highlights how psychopathic traits are more likely found in corporate managers than the general population.

Through a study by University of British Columbia, including close scrutiny of performance reviews and 360 degree feedback of a selection of individuals identified as management material, it was revealed that on a test looking at psychopathic traits, they were 20 times more likely to exhibit these then the general population.

Heart warming stuff; that lack of empathy you keep noting in your line manager is the very thing which got them to the top…


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Thanks to everyone who attended our 360 feedback seminar

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A brief post to say thanks to those who came along to our seminar last week on how to successfully implement 360 degree feedback and a ‘Missed you!’ to those who couldn’t make it as planned.

It was an interesting cross-section of individuals and organisations as ever, and we introduced a lot more new content around 360 reporting, discussing what works and when; this is such a critical element of the process.

Looking forward to running another one in the New Year; if you have a particular interest and wish to come along next time then do let me know at

For those who did miss it, don’t forget that you can download the new whitepaper via this blog or the website.

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360 Degree Feedback….there’s an App for that….

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Without wishing to come over as a 360 degree feedback purist, I do feel a little dismayed at a new ‘App’ which I see is now available for the iphone.

The new ‘Who am I’ app, allows you to rate yourself against personality traits and then have others do the same.

Perfectly fine, but to label it 360 degree feedback seems to be far fetched and somewhat removed from what we naturally see as a process designed to bring together feedback on a series of observable behaviours in the workplace.

More importantly is that it reduces the process to simply the software element; what if you send out the requests and it comes back saying you are ‘unlikeable’, ‘unsophisticated’ and ‘ and ‘unreliable’….is there an app to help you through that?

I didn’t see ‘Curmudgeonly’ on there as a trait, but I might tick it for myself if I do buy the app.


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New Whitepaper and Seminar – Successfully Implementing 360 Degree Feedback; a guide for HR professionals

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We are really pleased to announce the release of our newly revised edition of our 360 degree feedback whitepaper – "Successfully Implementing 360 Degree Feedback; a guide for HR professionals".

This edition offers a fresh perspective on the end-to-end process involved in undertaking 360 feedback in any organisation and is a practical, comprehensive look at the steps required to ensure any such project is a success.

From planning and design of competency frameworks, questionnaires and reports, through to communication, training and face-to-face debriefs, this handbook will help HR professionals, Learning & Development partners, HR/Management consultancies, and coaches approach a project with confidence.

Critically in a completely new section, we evaluate the importance of 360 reporting; the different types you can consider and what works best and when.

To support the release of this new whitepaper, we are also running a free seminar on this topic tomorrow, Wednesday 12th October, in London; for details, simply register in the sign-up box in the right-hand column of the blog or on the website.

We hope you enjoy this new edition; if you are already registered with us then you won’t be able to subscribe to again, so just drop an email to me at and I will forward a copy directly.

Look forward to seeing some of you at the seminar tomorrow.


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Raising awareness through 360 Degree Feedback & a trip to the Physio!

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As a runner of advancing years, I find myself more and more conscious of aches and pains, and less and less able to recover quickly if I have been training too hard.

I visited a physiotherapist for the first time when my tendons had become too inflamed and simply weren’t recovering; his approach was slow, methodical and comprehensive.

He examined my stance, my gait, my balance, and my legs; at each point he observed and then asked me to observe.

"Do you notice how your left foot turns inwards more than the right?" Of course I hadn’t, but now was acutely aware that it patently did.

"What happens when you run uphill? Downhill?"

"Can you feel this muscle as you rotate about the hip?"

Each time, I became more aware of how my body was running; what movements it was making and what might be exacerbating a particular problem.

He then worked in tiny steps down the tendons, and pressed down, asking what degree of pain I felt (which I hasten to add, when he hit the exact spot, was quite a large degree…)

As you can imagine, as I left with this new found awareness (and a rather stringent rehabilitation exercise regime), I was suddenly making different decisions as to how I should walk, run, carry, etc – the raised awareness was the first crucial step to understanding what was creating the pain and then be able to better judge how to alleviate it.

360 Degree Feedback can work in a similar way; the report gathers in all the feedback and presents the fact, for example, that the recipient is a ‘pain in the tendon’ to his direct reports.

In a face-to-face debrief with some further skilled examination, questions and exploration, the recipient can really become aware of this issue; how bad is the pain? Is it always there? Is everyone agreed there is a pain? And when you help them hit the exact spot, they are in a much better position to register that pain!

I have drawn that analogy as far as possible; back to standing on my tip-toes….ouch!



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