4 rules of thumb for 360 degree feedback

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The four most common things we get asked around 360 degree feedback are rather practical but they crop up time and time again.  So here goes on 4 rules of thumb – remember these are just guidelines:

  1. You should ask about 20-28 questions clustered into 5-7 competencies supplemented by narrative responses against each competency
  2. Recipients should get feedback from between 8 and 15 people
  3. A 5 point rating scale with a 6th point for not applicable works best
  4. Give people 2-3 weeks to complete the 360 degree feedback

No rocket science, just our insight from 12 years of running 360s.   Remember the aim of the game is for the recipient of the feedback to hold a great conversation around important (to them and the organisation) behaviours/values.  Change the rules however you see fit to achieve that aim – we often do.

 

Brendan

 

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The value of values – How to embed values in your organisation

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We are delighted to have a guest post this week from Rob Da Costa with whom we have had the pleasure of working with over the last year – Rob is a business coach, mentor and trainer, believing that a successful business puts equal focus on the commercial AND cultural needs of their organisation.

In this post, Rob explores the value of values; why they are important and what you can do to help embed them within your organisation.

The value of values

Many businesses claim that they are clear about their organisation’s values. They proudly display them on their wall above their reception and promote them on their website, yet when you ask staff about the values they either can’t recall them or are cynical about them.

Why have values?

Values define the personality and culture of a business. They are the DNA of any organisation. They are particularly useful for helping recruit the right staff and helping the business make the big decisions. Values provide an outline and framework for appropriate behaviours both internally, towards each other and externally towards customers.

Embedding values

So how do you embed values into an organisation and ensure that they are lived every day? Values words in themselves are not that useful. However, defining the behaviours that underlie the values is what brings them to life. Where possible making the definition of values an inclusive process gets the buy-in from the whole organisation.

An Example

A client wishes to define their values so they send out a 100-word exercise to all staff asking them to pick five words from the list that they believe defines the company today and in the future. The input is collated and the top 10 words identified. From this list the management team picks three words that differentiate themselves from their marketplace and identifies who they are and/or who they aspire to be.

Bringing them to life
Once we have these words, we now need to define the behaviours that underlie them. So for each word we look at the behaviours both internally (company to employee, employee to employee etc.) and externally (company to client, etc). This work then needs to be rolled out throughout the whole organisation.

To bring and keep the values/behaviours alive there are a number of activities that can be done including assigning staff different words to own, to celebrating examples of staff who demonstrably live the values, to creating visuals that are displayed on the walls to incorporating a discussion about values in the recruitment and induction process and incorporating feedback around the values/behaviours in performance appraisal & 360 degree feedback processes.

Values in themselves are not that useful, it’s the behaviours that underlie them that brings them to life and provides a day-to-day demonstration of those values in action.

Website – www.dacostacoaching.co.uk

Email – robert@dacostacoaching.co.uk

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What gets rewarded, gets done

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A simple reminder from Seth Godin on the idea of reward driving behaviour – it follows the maxim of ‘What gets measured, gets done’ and is a useful prompt to organisations to carefully consider what behaviour their performance appraisal processes, systems, reward and recognition schemes create.

The news is awash of organisations and institutions which have created their own ‘Frankenstein’s monster’; good intent gone awry by not thinking this through – the results can be shocking, with displayed behaviour going against the very core purpose of the organisation, be that protecting citizens, caring for them, or providing democratic governance.

John

 

 

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Achieving goals – make them public

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John recently ran a webinar on setting goals and this is clearly a key aspect of most performance appraisal processes.  The webinar was very well attended which demonstrates how interested and key a part of the process it is.  Stating the obvious; it is achieving goals that is the desired outcome and the efffort into setting goals and reviewing them should be set in that context.  What process/form/training is most likely to lead to improved performance and delivery?  I was reflecting on this in a recent bike ride.  Instinctively, many of us are aware of the moment when we truly commit to a goal or project.  We often start with a phase of rumination, discussion and consideration before coming up with the aim.  Sometimes (often?) we set the goal but never wholeheartedly commit to it.  We may write it down.  We may tell ourselves that we’ll give it a go.  But we never fully commit.  Often we don’t then deliver.

For me – not everyone I meet – one key moment is publicly stating the goal.  So, this year I’ve been considering a long bike ride.  An amazing guy called Tommy Godwin rode 75,000 miles in a year in 1939 and it is the 75th anniversary of that achievement (by the way I’d encourage anyone to look this guy up – the link I’ve provided is to an excellent website on him).  Raleigh have created a challenge to see whether people can ride Tommy’s daily average of 205 miles just once.  Over Christmas I decided to do it, but I knew in my heart I had not yet committed to it.  Frankly it is a mad challenge which will take around 16 hours of pedaling).  So I told someone.  Then I told a few more people (and asked some of them to join me!).  Now it is a public goal and I am committed.  I’ve upped my miles, I’ve put together a training plan.  Note, it is not a perfectly formed SMART objective – I don’t know which date I’m going to do it yet.  But I am committed.

Within Bowland at the moment we have two people committed to running marathon’s this year (John and Peter).  I know because they have told me – it is public.  They have training plans and have been running in aweful weather – because they are committed to the goal.

Stating a goal publicly doesn’t guarantee success – it’s probably a good idea that I do a lot of long distance training as well.  But it helps with commitment.

Worth a thought when we look at how our appraisal processes work.  Are goals public?  Is everyone aware of each other’s targets?  Are people truly committed to achieving the goals?  Just a thought.

Writing this has led to consider how we look to hit sporting targets by breaking the target down into achievable steps…a topic for another day.

Brendan

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How can you ensure your 360 degree feedback programme is efficient AND effective?

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Efficiency tends to deal with things. Effectiveness tends to deal with people.

I read this quotation recently and felt it tied in very well with our new website and the message we are keen to promote around what it is we do; and that is to extract maximum value from 360 degree feedback programmes and performance appraisals by making them efficient AND effective.

We might re-write this quotation to better suit this message as ‘Efficiency tends to come through software. Effectiveness tends to come through the conversation.”

Our quiet on-line software provides the solid base upon which to build, whilst the supporting services we offer, all focus on making sure those conversations, be they a 360 degree feedback debrief or performance appraisal conversation, go well.

From the initial design of the 360 degree feedback questionnaire, to providing insightful reports which feed the debrief conversation rather than detract from it, and skills training for Line Managers & employees in how to have meaningful conversations; all of these are there to ensure that the people involved get the most from the conversation because that’s when it’s effective.

To read more about how these different elements can help make your 360 degree feedback project both efficient and effective, just take a look at our new website, where you will also find a free new whitepaper to download automatically, ‘How to conduct an effective 360 degree feedback debrief”.

If you have any problems downloading then just use the ‘Contact Us’ form at the bottom of the website or on this blog to request the whitepaper directly.

 John

 


 

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5 ways to improve the performance appraisal process

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At this time of the year we usually see a number of articles and surveys that say that performance appraisals are disliked by all and that they are highly ineffectual.   The suggestion is to throw the baby out with the bath water and get rid of them all together.  In recent days we’ve had the Washington Post saying that everyone hates them and we find that HMRC are striking about their proposed process.

So, to buck a trend – let’s be positive and look at how to improve performance appraisal processes.

      1. Remember we’re all humans
        In the middle of a project to introduce or improve performance appraisal the nature of people can be forgotten as the organisation makes its demands.  So, think about the people in your organisation – do they tend to complete long forms with full attention? do they like grades? are they likely to update their goals every 2 weeks? Think about people – your people – and build something that works for them
      2. Less is more
        Better to have 95% of people complete key aspects of the process positively than drag 65% of people through a perfect performance appraisal process containing everything we could think of.
      3. Put the recipient first
        Bit of a mantra down Bowland Way this one.  The aim of performance appraisal is to improve the performance of people over how they would have performed without it.  So focus on the people not on the organisation.
      4. Lend ‘em a hand
        Countless surveys have told us what we already know:  managers can find this difficult – in particular they can find the appraisal conversation difficult.  So, train them on how to hold the conversation.
      5. Focus on the conversation
        If we had the perfect manager, we probably wouldn’t need a form (other than for compliance). We would know that the manager would hold regular, great conversations that gave and received feedback, set and adjusted goals and were encouraging and open.  To help the non-perfect managers, construct the forms and process so that it leads them through the conversation that a great manager would have naturally.  The conversation matters more than the content of the form.  Use the form and its content to prompt and structure the appraisal conversation.

 

 

Brendan

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Meaningful Conversations require courage

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Perhaps it’s because my brain is primed to spot anything associated with our concept of meaningful conversations, but there seems to be a flurry of articles recently which tie into this theme and which are striking a definite chord.

To those articles, I would add this one in Reuters, which talks of the need to have courage in order to engage in those ‘hard’ conversations – be that professional or personal.

It is to my mind true that in order to conduct meaningful conversations, be that as part of those cyclical performance management conversations or 360 degree feedback debriefs, preparation is key – one needs to prepare beforehand and prepare to be open.

It is that latter point of being open, which requires courage; it suggests speaking from both heart and mind, and that is the ‘hard’ bit.

John

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Extracting value from the debriefs in 360 degree feedback

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For some time now, our clients have asked us to support them with the feedback session following a 360 degree feedback process – the debrief. A number of clients look to Bowland to handle the session itself. Be it for a leadership team of 6 or 7 people, or 200 partners/senior managers in a law firm, we are able to ensure that the 360 process leads to a meaningful conversation on the feedback received. We are also, separately, able to extract additional value outside of the personal debrief session.

When listening to the feedback recipients respond to their feedback and as we develop a very open conversation with them, themes emerge across the recipients. Some themes are common personal development patterns and suggest training or coaching interventions that may apply across a range of people. Other themes describe the system at play within the organisation. Examples may be the influence that the pay/reward scheme has on behaviour or how the collapse of a particular market has led to a change in behaviours. And finally, we hear organisational culture or processes at play. How one department perceives another, how two clashing departmental leaders are creating difficulties lower down in the organisation, how a recent strategic change is being experienced at lower levels and the uncertainty that is leading to disenchantment.

Because we are external to the organisation and our conversations are confidential we gain a fascinating, candid insight into the ‘real’ world of the organisation.
When a couple of our clients spotted this and asked us to report back to their leadership team on what we found, we saw the power of such a process. We now always offer to our clients the option of a written report and presentation to the leadership team or head of our findings. We get fantastic feedback on how useful that process is.

360 degree feedback should always concentrate in the first instance on the development of each individual. To extract maximum value from 360 degree feedback you should then link the personal feedback to the organisational themes.

Brendan

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