5 tips on how to integrate 360 degree feedback into performance appraisal

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The key trend in performance appraisals over the past few years has been a desire to gain 360 degree feedback as part of the performance appraisal process.  For some, feedback is gained against a set of competencies – similar to standard 360 degree feedback.  For others, feedback is gathered against a few key questions to supplement the manager’s own knowledge of the appraisee.  Here are our 5 tips built from our experience with clients using our integrated 360 degree performance appraisal system.

1. Allow more time.

Obvious? Perhaps.  But if there was one practical outcome that we saw from introducing 360 degree feedback into the performance appraisal it is that it significantly increases the cycle.  The time taken to select the respondents, verify them, distribute the questions, get the responses and then organise the appraisal meeting is significantly lengthened.  If you wish to have high quality feedback then you have to leave time for respondents to set aside an appropriate amount of their own time to give it.

2. Let appraisees choose their respondents and then verify their list

Logistically, it is quicker to allow the appraisee to choose their respondents and they will get it 80% right.  And they take ownership.  Some, but not many, may abuse that trust and so a failsafe is required.  But let the appraisees pick the respondents first  and then let their manager (or HR in some organisations) check over and supplement / amend the list.

3. Think quality not quantity

As ever with feedback – it is better to have 3 people write 2 or 3 well crafted paragraphs each than have 10 people provide 20 ratings and no narrative.  The aim of performance appraisal is (usually) to reflect on prior performance and to support the coming year.  Energised feedback from well-selected people is better than tired feedback from a scattergun of everyone with a potential opinion.

4. Automate it

You really don’t want to do this on paper.  So, get system support and have that system geared to both standard appraisal and the 360 feedback element.  There is the potential for significant amount of administration – don’t let the process get in the way of the feedback.

5. Be open with the process

Unless there are real issues with people being concerned with confidentiality, then we recommend that the appraisee gets to see all of the 360 degree feedback.  This makes acceptance of feedback much easier and creates a better culture around the performance appraisal itself.  The manager should ultimately take responsibility for providing the overall feedback and appraisal conversation and should be confident in doing so while showing the inputs they have used.

We have left training out of the tips – training people on feedback and the appraisal conversation is always the way forward and not specific to this topic….but do, do train the managers!

If handled properly then including 360 degree feedback into performance appraisal reflects modern team structures and is the way forward.  We see some great implementations and hope the above tips set you on your way.

 

Brendan

 

Eventbrite - Complimentary Webinar - How to deliver a great 360 Degree Feedback project

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Complimentary Webinar – How to deliver a great 360 degree feedback project

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Friday 23rd May@1pm BST

Join us for this 45 minute webinar which will help you deliver a great 360 Degree Feedback project within your own organisation.

Eventbrite - Complimentary Webinar - How to deliver a great 360 Degree Feedback project

The session will focus on four of the key foundation elements of successful 360 degree feedback implementation, namely:

  • Design of the competency frameworks, questionnaire, and rating scale
  • Understanding the different type of 360 reports; what works when
  • How to share the feedback report in the one-to-one debrief session
  • How to build the case for 360; getting senior level ‘buy-in’

Previous delegate comments:

“Very informative and helpful, we came away with some great tips & ideas for our implementation of 360″

“A lucid and practical account of how to go about 360 degree feedback”

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

If you want to understand the basic building blocks of how to successfully implement a 360 Degree Feedback programme within your organisation then this session will answer most of your questions.

 No cost to attend; spaces are limited to 20 seats

 We hope you can join us on the 23rd May.

John

Eventbrite - Complimentary Webinar - How to deliver a great 360 Degree Feedback project

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Conversation.Conversation.Conversation

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The title of this post was sparked by my recent reading of a book about how to communicate ideas simply and in a way that sticks – a central tenet is that of simplicity; finding what is the absolute core of your message and making sure that it is presented in a concise and meaningful way.

Bill Clinton navigated his way to success in his 1992 election campaign by repeating his core message to voters ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ and Tony Blair followed him with ‘Education.Education.Education’ – it clearly signals where the focus is and what is believed to be most important.

In the same way, as I look to where our own focus is and what we believe to be truly important in 360 degree feedback and performance appraisal processes, it always comes back to the conversation which happens at the end;  the software has delivered things efficiently, the conversation ensures effectiveness.

Such a mantra can help guide decisions in setting up these processes; if we believe the conversation to be most important, then everything we put in place should serve to make that conversation go well – relevant 360 questions and appraisal forms which engage the employee, reports which provide insight and are useful to all parties, and training for both employees and Line Managers to build their confidence and capabilities so they can hold meaningful conversations around the outputs.

John
Eventbrite - Complimentary Webinar - How to deliver a great 360 Degree Feedback project

 

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Answer to the Ultimate Question of Leadership, The Universe, and Everything…

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….is not “42″ but rather “Self-Awareness” - this article in Forbes is a neat reminder of both the critical importance of self-awareness as a route to effectiveness and how 360 degree feedback is one of the most effective means of developing such self-awareness.

Naturally I am biased, but I do find myself vigorously nodding in agreement – there is a wonderful simplicity and affirming belief too at the heart of this; trust people to know what to do once they have the information to hand, once you have explored their 360 degree feedback report with them in the debrief.

If you can raise their self-awareness and bring what’s often in their peripheral vision into view, they will often make ‘better’ choices next time around.

John

Eventbrite - Webinar - Meaningful Conversations - Giving Feedback

 

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Making progress, being positive

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Eventbrite - Webinar - Meaningful Conversations - Giving Feedback

I’ve picked up a few ways of working over the years.  Some have come from classic management books I have read, some from observation of others and many just from knowing what works for me.  I still sometimes use Covey’s “Urgent-Important” matrix to help make sure I’m doing the right thing each day- and David Allen’s “Getting things done” is a masterclass in how to organise yourself.

Whatever the techniques we use for getting through the workload, there is one attitude and one instinct I observe in nearly all strong leaders.  They move things forward and they stay positive.  This makes them encouraging, positive people to be around as they shirk off negative issues and quickly retain a positive drive.

One application of this is to have in mind that positive feedback; encouragement, praise, spotting improvement is often much more likely to lead to success than criticism.  We can be fixated on the need to hold “the difficult conversation” and ensure that people receive constructive criticism.   Often this can simply draw attention to failings and demotivates when actually an uplifting (genuine) positive conversation is much more likely to be successful.

I think we spot this with our children.  I’m sure most parents have caught themselves giving a stream of negative sentences.  “Hurry up”,  “Don’t do that”, “Don’t forget …”.  It doesn’t really work – you get the same behaviour the following morning.  Often the recipient comes to rely on your catching of failings and often the recipient is left deflated. (I still do it of course!)

Think how you personally work when you are trying to achieve something significant.  Take the example of a big fitness/physical goal.  You look for positives.  You build up your stamina and speed, you join a club where others run/ride and love doing it, you treat yourself to a new bit of kit, you focus on the positive feeling you have when you have completed a training session.  You remind yourself that just the first 10 minutes are tough when you need to train in the winter.  Instinctively you avoid the negative.  When completing the task you force away the doubts and the negative thoughts (the head wind, ache in your knee, the cold) because they are of no use to you.  You may observe some beforehand and prepare for them but staying positive is crucial when you come to tackle the objective.

I believe this positivity is something to have in mind when we focus on managing people.   I’m not recommending false positivity – that is horrid.  But a genuine positive mindset which spots where people are doing well, encourages them, spots opportunities for additional achievement and is uplifting has got to be better than pointing out the negative.  Yes performance appraisal requires some balance but the aim of appraisal should be to improve performance – and a positive approach is most successful at achieving that.

 

Brendan

 
Eventbrite - Webinar - Meaningful Conversations - Giving Feedback

 

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Free Webinar – “Meaningful Conversations – Giving Feedback”

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Friday 9th May 2014@1pm (BST)

Join us for the second of our series of ‘Meaningful Conversations’ webinars which will cover all of the key performance management conversations which Line Managers have to conduct with their team from setting objectives through to the performance appraisal.
Eventbrite - Meaningful Conversations - Giving Feedback

 

Following the first webinar which looked how to set objectives, we now move onto the key step of giving feedback to individuals; it is not only critical that you give feedback, but also how you give that feedback which makes the difference.

Our series of ‘Meaningful Conversations’ webinars and classroom-based training modules build the capability and confidence of Line Managers, so that they can not only follow a process that works, but critically they can approach these performance management conversations in a way which builds and preserves the trust in the relationships they have with their direct reports.

This one hour webinar explores the key elements which ensure a feedback conversation is successful:

  • Takeaway our ‘Meaningful Conversations’ model which is fundamental to any successful performance management conversation
  • Learn how to give praise and encourage productive behaviours
  • Takeaway a 4 step process in how to give feedback when performance or behaviour is below expectations.

Eventbrite - Meaningful Conversations - Giving Feedback

We hope you can join us on Friday 9th May.

John

 

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Why sometimes taking your eyes off the prize may be the best strategy

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I ran the Brighton Marathon last weekend, and as in common with I imagine most runners, I had a time in mind – that was my goal or target – and if I could beat it, then all the better.

As I neared the latter stages of the race,  I found myself thinking about my time – how much faster could I go? How far under target could I achieve?

If at that point I had pursued the fastest possible  time, believing it to be the only prize, I had every chance of blowing up, injuring myself and enduring the race rather than enjoying it.

I took my eyes off that prize and considered the other desired outcomes – I wanted to enjoy the race, notice the crowd, feel the buzz; I wanted to finish injury free, not collapse across the finish line; I wanted my enthusiasm for running to remain intact, not be dented by a gruelling and unpleasant slog.

Often we see in organisational life and public life, performance targets and goals which seem to narrow in their definition – they miss the other desired outcomes –  an unremitting focus on exam pass rates in schools for example, can lead teachers away from what’s really important for the students; an education, genuine, long-lasting learning rather than just a short-term memory trick.

Whether it’s setting goals & objectives, winning business, delivering projects, managing others, we should consider, what are the other possible desired outcomes? Because when we do, we often realise the prize on offer is much bigger than we first thought and the rewards much greater.

John

 


 

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A graphical reminder of our 360 degree feedback seminar

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During our seminar last Friday, we were lucky enough to have the graphic facilitation talents of Vanessa Randle from Thinking Visually.

We have worked with Vanessa now for a few years, most notably for a recent ‘Coffee Conversations’ large group facilitation project, where we ran over 50 workshops both in the UK and US, with Vanessa producing a unique visual record of every event.

It’s quite something to see a vibrant, technicolour picture emerge from a blank canvas, representing all the conversations happening in the room, rich in imagery, symbols and words.

We thought it would be a neat idea to have Vanessa capture the essence of our 360 degree feedback seminar; both the elements of presentation and the themes from the roundtable discussions which were enlightening.

And here it is:

If you would like more information about how you can introduce graphical facilitation into your meetings, events, large group learning interventions, etc, then feel free to get in touch with us or contact Vanessa directly.

John

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Do goals/targets limit high performance?

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I am a member of a cycling club.  Every now and again a topic will come up which can be summed up as …. “if I know I am cycling 50 miles then I tend to be exhausted at mile 48.  If I know I am cycling 75 miles then I am fine at mile 48.  Why is that?”.  With modern technology recording every pedal stroke I can assure you this isn’t simply a matter of the pace you cycle at.  There is something about how the mind starts to feel as it approaches a goal – a relaxation and a tendency to prepare for the end.  It would be devastating to be told to cycle another 25 miles if you had been told the distance was only 50.  You just wouldn’t be “up for it”.

In a similar vein, Peter (our head of technology delivery) is training to run the Edinburgh marathon.  He recently ran the Stafford half marathon and was aiming to get inside 2 hours for the first time over that distance.  He timed 2 hours and 3 seconds (I won’t mention that his wife berated him at the finishing line for not sprinting the last bit!).  Last weekend – just a fortnight or so later – he ran 17 miles in training … and went past the half marathon distance at 1 hour and 44 minutes.  Clearly many factors are at play here but for anyone who has run, cycled or trained for a physical endurance event the story is ironic but not that surprising.

When I have researched how rewards influence behaviours in the past, the top 10% – high achievers – are often excluded from findings because they do not respond to external rewards and instead tend to already be driven and motivated.  Indeed there is an argument that reward mechanisms frustrate them rather than motivate them.  When I reflect on my own experience of sporting targets and their impact on performance I wonder whether stretch goals should be past what is really required or even achievable, particularly for the high achievers in an organisation.  The cliche of “reach for the stars and you may get to the moon” has some truth.

In the workplace this can be a real issue.  If rewards in the annual performance appraisal are linked to goals then signing up to an unachievable goal is illogical behaviour – instead goals are “negotiated” with an inevitable drive by the individual to drive down the target.  However, greater performance may have been achieved by setting a distant target.

Goals give clarity, set expectations and are generally a good idea.  For some organisations, and some people within those organisations are smarter approach to performance appraisal may be required to ensure that goal setting drives the highest performance level.

 

Brendan

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