360 degree feedback – Be mindful of the impact you are having

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In my last post, I made the observation that for the most part people are quite self-aware of their development areas; they have it in their peripheral vision and a 360 degree feedback report brings it in front of them for exploration.

By contrast, whilst people may have a knowledge of these development areas, they are often less aware of the impact their behaviour is having, and this can be the catalyst for change.

This is never more so the case then when you have someone in a senior position within the organisation or firm; they are visible, influential and the choices they make create ripples around them which they are sometimes quite blind to.

If individuals can fully explore their 360 degree feedback report to highlight the impact they are having on those around them, then this can be the ‘lightbulb’ moment that has an individual become more committed to being mindful of their behaviours in the future.

John

 

 

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360 degree feedback; objects in the mirror appear closer than they are

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I recall this being the phrase imprinted on the wing mirrors of some cars, possibly just in the US, as I considered the nature of development areas uncovered for an individual in their 360 degree feedback report. i.e. The individual often knows what they are as they always have them in their peripheral vision.

For the most part, when we are conducting 360 degree feedback debriefs, particularly with senior executives within an organisation or partners in a law firm, we are working with very savvy people; they are generally highly self-aware and know what development themes are likely to be in their report.

All the report serves to do in that moment is to bring what is in the wing mirror up in front of someone; they can then see it more clearly, more  closely, and with their fullest attention.

The debriefer can help to explore those themes, pick through them, tease out more detail and perhaps increase their self-awareness a little more too.

The trick is for that self-awareness to go beyond the debrief; it should be that the individual carries that self-awareness into their day-to-day; in other words to become mindful in every moment, because that’s when self-awareness creates change.

John

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Be careful what you wish for when it comes to Performance Appraisals

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A salutary lesson in this article regarding Microsoft who recently announced they were moving away from a stacked-ranking performance appraisal system, akin to ‘Forced Distribution’ as a process. [To listen to this blog post on Audioboo, click here]

The reason for this move is highlighted by Steve Balmer’s comments which points to a goal of fostering greater collaboration within the organisation, thereby encouraging the levels of teamwork and innovation which is essential for their sustained success.

The stacked-ranking system was much criticised over the years by employees who felt it worked against this very ethos, as colleagues had self-preservation in mind as opposed to having the greater interests of the organisation at heart.

A similar example of my own comes from a friend who is a teacher; they told me that after having recently introduced performance-related pay within the school, different behaviours became apparent immediately, most notably people began copying in senior management on more emails as ‘proof’ of their efforts and extra-curricular/discretionary activities fell away rapidly as people started to focus solely on what would help ensure they ‘met their target’.

Some would argue that such focus by individuals on what’s important is a good thing, and to some extent that is true; but when it begins to undermine the necessary collaboration which should be in the very fabric and culture of an organisation, then the pendulum has swung too far one way.

When it comes to putting together a wish-list of a Performance Appraisal solution, one has to step back, take a look at the bigger, systemic picture within an organisation and ask ‘What are we really trying to achieve here?’.

If greater collaboration is one of your answers, then tread carefully around stacked-ranking, forced distribution and performance-related pay.

John

 


 

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What’s your Achilles’ Heel?

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“An Achilles’ heel is a deadly weakness in spite of an overall strength, that can actually or potentially lead to downfall.”

360 degree feedback highlights both strengths and development areas; not so dramatic as a ‘deadly weakness’ but interesting nonetheless.

What’s often the case though for most people as they review their 360 degree feedback report is that they notice that they do genuinely have an Achilles’ Heel as well; something which could undo them if not paid attention to and worked upon.

But, here’s the thing; that ‘deadly weakness’ is not just ‘in spite of an overall strength’ but often ‘because of an overall strength’.

A strength overplayed becomes a weakness; confidence becomes arrogance, vocal becomes domineering, and not saying ‘No’ becomes unsustainable.

The actions for an individual in these situations becomes less those of development and more of tempering, moderation and mindfulness.

So, as you read your 360 degree feedback report and acknowledge your strengths, pause to reflect, ‘Which of these is my Achilles Heel?’.

John

 

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What single thing would most improve your performance appraisal process?

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We ran a survey last year on organisational approaches to performance appraisal which yielded some great insights into what practices are out there; whether paper-based or on-line, whether tied to performance related pay or not, etc.

The survey ran on and we collected some more results which we haven’t published before; they are around the simple question as posed in the title of this post, “What single thing would most improve your performance appraisal process?’

Here are some of the more frequent responses:

  • A clear and concise performance rating scale
  • Greater consistency between the Line Manager grades and that of the moderating panel
  • Line Managers being more skilled & taking more time to have in-depth and meaningful performance appraisal conversations
  • Organisational committment
  • A simple appraisal form

It’s interesting to note that most responses are focused on making the performance appraisal process effective – there is little mention of making the process go faster, or be on-line, or be quicker to complete, and yet such considerations are often the first topics when discussing how one might improve the performance appraisal process (shortly followed by some wag saying to get rid of them altogether).

So, what single thing would most improve your performance appraisal process?

John

 

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The “old fashioned” ideas which endure and have value

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A lovely little article in The Guardian earlier this week, part of a series, where questions are posed by a 10 year old; this week the question was ‘How much more modern is the world going to get?’.

The answer considers how technology and human knowledge will continue to advance, with everything becoming more efficient; but the closing remarks point to the fact that ‘old fashioned’ values such as peace, family, caring for others and trust will endure and continue to be important, no matter how ‘modern’ we become.

Trust is a value which underpins successful business; it’s what brings effectiveness to the efficiency – without it, any success is ultimately short-term.

When we talk about ‘meaningful conversations’ in our Performance Management training programmes with Line Managers, it is this dimension of trust which is what makes those conversations effective; how do we efficiently deliver on the purpose of that conversation, be it objective setting, giving feedback, performance appraisal, etc whilst maintaining a high trust relationship with the other person?

Being mindful of  ’old fashioned’ values when we come to workplace relationships is no bad thing; we can be efficient and effective.

John

 


 

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