Unearthing myths and speaking truth to power with 360 degree feedback

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We ran our seminar, entitled ‘Using 360 Degree Feedback to bust through urban myths’, for the first time last week and were very pleased with how it was received.

The essence of it drew attention to the power of 360 degree feedback as something that can not only help individuals explore their own stories, myths, strengths and development areas, but also a process which can help unearth myths and truths within the organisation itself.

The behaviours displayed by individuals are not just a product of their own predispositions, capabilities, values and alike, but critically are in no small part driven by the organisational system they are part of.

Systems of reward and incentives, unwritten or explicit, will affect behaviour; as will the culture, strategy, processes and external environment.

By exploring lots of  individual’s behaviours through 360 degree feedback, an aggregated picture emerges which tells you something of about the reality within the organisation – what was set up with a positive, simple intent has created a complex reality on the ground.

The key is to be able to explore the myths and find the truth, before ‘speaking truth to power’, so that the organisation can pay attention to the strategic insights which can flow from 360 degree feedback and recalibrate.

Our thanks to all who attended and the interesting discussions which helped explore this topic.

John

 

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Final call for free seminar – Using 360 Degree Feedback to bust through ‘Urban Myths’

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Date/Time

Friday 28th March@9am

Venue

RPC, Tower Bridge House London , St Katharine’s Way, E1W 1AA, London

REGISTER HERE FOR LAST 3 REMAINING SEATS

Summary

The use of 360 degree feedback, particularly in support of senior leadership teams, continues to grow rapidly; yet the real value of the insight it can deliver often fails to materialise because organisations do not capitalise on the rich, strategically important, information which can be unearthed during the one-to-one debrief conversations.

This ability to bust through individual and organisational ‘Urban Myths’ is what makes 360 degree feedback so powerful.

During this one-hour seminar you will discover how you can ensure you extract the maximum value from your next senior leadership team 360 degree feedback programme.

By the end of this seminar you will:

  • Gain understanding of how to implement a ‘Strategic 360′ programme; from design, to conducting debriefs and creating the aggregated summary analysis
  • Avoid the common pitfalls that can derail a 360 degree feedback programme, waste your time & your money
  • Learn from a real-life case study how RPC realised the full potential of their 360 programme
  • Be able to ensure your next 360 degree feedback programme delivers the maximum return on investment to your organisation

 

REGISTER HERE

 

Previous seminar attendees testimonials

“If you are looking for a session that is about imparting sound knowledge and sharing best practice across a range of industry sectors, Bowland’s seminars are perfect

“Short, sharp and to the point. Well delivered by very experienced consultants.”

“Excellent event – engaging presenters & stimulating content.”

“A breath of fresh air! Presentation was direct, to the point with no frills! An eye opener.”

 

Speaker Biographies

Brendan Walsh, Director, Bowland Solutions

As well as his leadership responsibilities in Bowland, Brendan is a sought after 360 degree feedback debriefer to senior executives of Bowland’s clients. He has handled feedback sessions with Chief Executives and other board members of leading UK organisations. His pragmatic approach to supporting and challenging senior executives through a 360 debrief ensures the executive values the confidential meeting and takes responsibility for the content of the report.

John Rice, Director, Bowland Solutions

As a Director with Bowland Solutions, John brings over 10 years of experience in facilitation, training and coaching across a range of high profile & diverse clients including Legal & General, Microsoft, Revlon, CBRE, Renault, Kellogg’s and a number of top 100 law firms.

His style is pragmatic and business focussed, which readily engages senior leadership teams, coaching them to greater levels of individual, team and organisational success.

Timings

09:00 –  Registration & refreshments

0:930 – Seminar

10:30 – Refreshments & networking

11:00 – Close

Testimonial

“We recently returned to Bowland for a landmark programme involving over 200 of our most senior people worldwide. The firm obtained 3 very valuable outcomes from it: robust management data that told us where to focus our investment in learning and development, so we put every £ where it will do most good; an uplift in personal skills – not just from the recipient group but from over 400 people who practised giving constructive feedback; and finally the target group found the one-to-one debrief meetings to be milestones in their professional development.”

Richard Emanuel, Chief Operating Officer, RPC

 

REGISTER HERE

 

We hope you can join us this Friday

Bowland Solutions

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At what time of day do people complete 360 feedback?

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Friday topic here.  As part of an analysis of our data, we have been taking a look at when is the best time to send a 360 feedback invite, which date gets the best completion rate, when is it best to send a reminder, etc.  All helpful and we have a lot of data that we can work from.  From the information we can establish best practice on the administration of 360 degree feedback and let our clients know.

During the exercise we came across less useful but fun/interesting stuff.

The chart below shows at what time of day people complete feedback.  This is a very large sample size; tens of thousands.

Can’t think of one practical use but it sort of tells us a little bit about ourselves. We complete nearly twice as many in the first hour of the day as in the last hour. Post lunch (2pm) is the favoured hour. We are tending to work into the evening and I suspect the slight rise at 8pm/9pm is the post children’s bed time work slot. Completion here will be predominantly but not exclusively UK. I wonder if the US would have an earlier profile?

As I said at the outset, nothing of great significance but somehow interesting!

Brendan

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Guest post : choosing when to give feedback

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Here is a blog post from Jennifer McCanna.  We know her as learning and development manager at one of our clients; VSO.  Her full biography is at the bottom of the post.

Choosing when to give feedback

Imagine this scenario, you walk into the kitchen at work and you meet the one person who you really have a problem with. Your heart sinks. They always manage to upset you/offend you/ frustrate you and frankly you can do without it.

What do you do?

The chances are, you grin and bear it as you make your cup of tea, then you go back to your desk and email your best mate to rant about how this person really gets your goat.
Fair enough, this is life. But what happens when it turns out you’ve been put on a project team with this person? Or they become your new boss?

One of the wonderful and interesting things about life is that we all have a very unique set of experiences that make us who we are – from our upbringing, our cultural background and the people who have influenced us to the opportunities we’ve had, or not had. Because we all have this unique take on life there will often be times when we meet people who don’t react in a way we expect or understand, and in some cases in a way we don’t approve of, and when that happens it can provoke a strong emotional reaction.

I’m interested in what we do with that emotion. It’s easy to blame the person who’s inspired it, “they are just inept/bad tempered/rude” and that’s one way to go. But it can leave us feeling powerless. “That person over there is making me feel like this!! The outrage!!” But here’s the thing – you can choose to take their behaviour personally and you can choose not to.

For example my partner is tidier than me, and finds my habit of leaving unopened (or opened) post around the house at best unfathomably weird. This might seem a trivial example, but we all know how the smallest things can be the most annoying, and how they can turn into big things if not addressed. At worst my partner might feel I’m being purposefully untidy, which is disrespectful to the tidy house he’s trying to create. So why do I leave my post lying around? I grew up in a house where things had to be tidied away swiftly, so as a reaction to that I like a relaxed attitude to tidying away paperwork. And you know what, I had never thought about that until he pointed it out.

So faced with your own example of perceived outrageous behaviour, what can you do?

As I see it, there are two options: you can actively choose not to let this behaviour get to you, know it’s not personal and get on with your life, or you can offer this person feedback in the hope that they will change their behaviour.

The problem is option one takes patience and restraint, which we sometimes doubt we have. Option two takes courage, we’re not sure of the reaction, we feel it’s not our place to feedback, for example, within a work hierarchy, or maybe we don’t feel we have the skills to have that conversation?

And because both options are hard, we often fall into default option three: rant and moan about this person or behaviour to our close friends. Whilst this can lower blood pressure by helping you let off steam, it’s not actually serving to improve the situation, and in fact, if you get stuck there, it tends to compound your feelings of injustice and helplessness, lessening the likelihood of ever getting to either moving on, or giving feedback. When I’ve been stuck in “rant and moan” myself, it’s never productively moved the situation forward.

Are you waiting for someone to change? Are you taking someone’s behaviour personally? What are you doing about that right now?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What’s going on for the other person? By putting yourself in their shoes you might gain insight into why they appear to be being difficult. Think about their background, is this behaviour accepted in their generation/culture? Chances are, making your life hard isn’t their primary motivation. (I’m not saying this makes it ok, I’m saying it increases your empathy towards them, which makes a conversation easier)
  • If you could explain the effect their behaviour has on you, what would you say?
  • How do you feel about giving that feedback?

If you decide it is worth addressing your concerns with them, think through the most effective way of doing this. There has been a lot written about giving feedback, and a proper discussion would take up another few articles, but here are some general rules to bear in mind:

  1. Offering face to face feedback (i.e. not via email or text!) is more productive as you can have a two way conversation about the situation. The person on the receiving end has a right to reply.
  2. Giving feedback in a timely way also helps it be received well. Try not to bring up things that happened three years ago. How would you feel if you thought someone had been mad at you for that long?
  3. Talk about the behaviour you see, not the personality of the person. For example “it stresses me out when you leave envelopes everywhere” rather than “you are untidy” from the point of view of the person receiving the feedback, hearing about a specific behaviour one is exhibiting is easier to take, than a blanket statement about a personality flaw. You’ll get a better reaction!
  4. Talk about the impact of their actions on you. The chances are, the person you’re feeding back to has never thought about this, and this insight can be the motivation to change “when you leave your post lying around it makes me feel like all the tidying I do during the week is unappreciated, and I can’t relax when the house is untidy”
  5. Choose a time to deliver the feedback when you’re not feeling emotional. If you offer feedback feeling calm and open, the chances are that this is how it will be received.
    And remember, you cannot influence how others behave all the time, but you can control how you react to them.

Good luck and let me know how you go!

Jen

Jennifer McCanna is a professional leadership coach and Learning & Development Manager at international development charity VSO (www.vso.org.uk ). An Associate Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) she works with clients facing change and transition, or those who simply want to make their life and work the best it can be. Jennifer writes a regular blog at http://jenthecoach.blogspot.co.uk . You can follow her on twitter @jenthecoach or contact her directly via Linked in at http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/jennifer-mccanna/1/636/2b9/

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360 degree feedback rating scale

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This post was originally posted three years ago.  I was working on a rating scale for a client today and searched our own blog to see what we espoused as best practice.  And I found I didn’t agree with it!  Historically we recommended 3 point scales.  Recent experience is showing that this does not allow people to give the variance they wish to give and the answers cluster in one of the two high scores.  So here are our updated guidelines (not rules – as ever, do what works for you and we’re not going to stop you using any variety you prefer).

How many rating points?
Keep it simple. Our standard scale would be 5 points plus ‘not applicable’.  If you go shorter then you risk the responses clustering and masking the nuances.  If you go longer then our experience is you add little value and yet increase complexity for reporting.

Should there be a middle point?

Yes.
We know the fear – everyone will score in the middle (the Veblen effect). But they don’t – really, they don’t. And often people have a “she’s fine”, “ambivalent”, “mixed feelings” type
response that they want to give. Forcing them to go positive or negative creates a false response and invariably they go to the positive option to be kind which distorts the report and feedback.

Is “not applicable” allowed?

Yes.
You might call it something else : “no evidence”? But in 30 or so questions we have to expect some people to just not know.  Now – most importantly, you should review the responses to questions to ensure that questions are not overloaded with N/A responses – or that one group of respondents are answering in this way. If they are then the question requires rewording or removing.

The words : We favour scales such as “Strength”, “Development Area” rather than “Often”,”Sometimes”.

The latter scale, citing frequency, are however effective and really this is just personal preference. I find that the behaviours read better as a statement rather than as a question and this fits with a statement based rating scale. What I would avoid at all costs is a numerical rating scale which encourages the wrong conversation down the line.

Overall thoughts

The rating scale in 360 degree feedback is less important than people make it – I believe that respondents look at it initially to get a feel for where to place their mark but really they are providing graduated feedback more than specific statement feedback.

When debriefing though you do tend to use the rating scale as part of the language of the conversation – and for that reason we concentrate on how the report will look when we are designing the rating scale rather than how it appears in the questionnaire.

 

Brendan

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Healthy scepticsm or destructive cynicsm?

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I’ve been reflecting on the difference between scepticism and cynicsm as I work on some of the material for our upcoming 360 feedback seminar.  We like to focus with our clients on how processes are sustainable.  If 360 degree feedback or performance appraisal is handled badly then it generates cynicism.  And cynicism is destructive and very difficult to come back from.

I picked up a definition of sceptics in my research as follows

“Skeptics require additional evidence before accepting someone’s claims as true. They are willing to challenge the status quo with open-minded, deep questioning of authority”

What is interesting about this definition is that if your team or organisation has sceptics in it then it simply challenges you to provide evidence and not rely on command and control to convince them of your argument.  A wholly reasonable request.  If you are introducing 360 degree feedback to a sceptical team, or handling an individual debrief with a sceptic then you can expect to be challenged but provided your intention is correct and you are prepared then you should be confident that a good outcome will follow.

Here is a definition of a cynic

“A cynic distrusts most information they see or hear, particularly when it challenges their own belief system. Most often, cynics hold views that cannot be changed by contrary evidence.”

Probably best to start by not recruiting too many cynics!  However, all of us will have seen people with some tendencies in that direction become firm cynics having watched an organisation act in a manner that was wrong and broke trust and have suffered true injustices.  Many of us may at times be cynical of the intentions of the leaders of our national press, and leaders of some banking institutions.  When trust is broken over a period of time and lessons not learnt then cynicism can be a difficult response to avoid.

On reflection then; scepticism can be encouraged and welcomed.  Cynicism is destructive and to be avoided.  When establishing our performance appraisal processes and 360 degree feedback exercises we would do well to remember this – listen to the sceptics, don’t act in a way that leads to cynicism.

Brendan

(quotes came from a blog article http://expanded–consciousness.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-art-of-positive-skepticism-skeptic.html .  I don’t know the blog generally – but the definitions for this article were excellent!)

Register for our next seminar here

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Register for our next free seminar – Using 360 Degree Feedback to develop strategic insight into your organisation

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Date/Time

Friday 28th March@9am

Venue

RPC, Tower Bridge House London , St Katharine’s Way, E1W 1AA, London

REGISTER HERE

Summary

The use of 360 degree feedback, particularly in support of senior leadership teams, continues to grow rapidly; yet the real value of the insight it can deliver often fails to materialise because organisations do not capitalise on the rich, strategically important, information which can be unearthed during the one-to-one debrief conversations. 

During this one-hour seminar you will discover how you can ensure you extract the maximum value from your next senior leadership team 360 degree feedback programme.

By the end of this seminar you will:

  • Gain understanding of how to implement a ‘Strategic 360′ programme; from design, to conducting debriefs and creating the aggregated summary analysis
  • Avoid the common pitfalls that can derail a 360 degree feedback programme, waste your time & your money
  • Learn from a real-life case study how RPC realised the full potential of their 360 programme
  • Be able to ensure your next 360 degree feedback programme delivers the maximum return on investment to your organisation

 

REGISTER HERE

 

Previous seminar attendees testimonials

“If you are looking for a session that is about imparting sound knowledge and sharing best practice across a range of industry sectors, Bowland’s seminars are perfect

“Short, sharp and to the point. Well delivered by very experienced consultants.”

“Excellent event – engaging presenters & stimulating content.”

“A breath of fresh air! Presentation was direct, to the point with no frills! An eye opener.”

 

Speaker Biographies

Brendan Walsh, Director, Bowland Solutions

As well as his leadership responsibilities in Bowland, Brendan is a sought after 360 degree feedback debriefer to senior executives of Bowland’s clients. He has handled feedback sessions with Chief Executives and other board members of leading UK organisations. His pragmatic approach to supporting and challenging senior executives through a 360 debrief ensures the executive values the confidential meeting and takes responsibility for the content of the report.

John Rice, Director, Bowland Solutions

As a Director with Bowland Solutions, John brings over 10 years of experience in facilitation, training and coaching across a range of high profile & diverse clients including Legal & General, Microsoft, Revlon, CBRE, Renault, Kellogg’s and a number of top 100 law firms.

His style is pragmatic and business focussed, which readily engages senior leadership teams, coaching them to greater levels of individual, team and organisational success.

Timings

09:00 –  Registration & refreshments

0:930 – Seminar

10:30 – Refreshments & networking

11:00 – Close

Testimonial

“We recently returned to Bowland for a landmark programme involving over 200 of our most senior people worldwide. The firm obtained 3 very valuable outcomes from it: robust management data that told us where to focus our investment in learning and development, so we put every £ where it will do most good; an uplift in personal skills – not just from the recipient group but from over 400 people who practised giving constructive feedback; and finally the target group found the one-to-one debrief meetings to be milestones in their professional development.”

Richard Emanuel, Chief Operating Officer, RPC

 

REGISTER HERE

 

We hope you can join us

Bowland Solutions

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