Monday, 13 January 2014

Finding Your Way Around 360 Feedback (In Three Parts)

My first blog post of 2014 is going be in three parts.  I wanted to discuss one of my favourite topics 360 (or Multi-source) Feedback.  I felt that there is a lot to discuss and I wanted to give each post an opportunity to be discussed and dissected.
In an effort to limit the subjectivity in understanding people’s performance, the logical conclusion is to gather data from multiple perspectives.  This all makes sense. I clearly remember my days at a school in New Jersey and the head of the system cautioned me to be careful about exceeding budget year over year. I figure it was for a just cause, education, the results would prove their worth.  So after three years of my stubborn approach to the feedback he called me aside and shared with me a saying from his grandmother.  A saying I often draw on when providing feedback from 360˚ reports: “if one person tells you your drunk, you can ignore it; if two people say you are drunk you might want to pay attention and if three say you are drunk, lay down.” 
This simple saying encapsulates the essence of the thought behind 360 Feedback. 
While used fairly infrequently at the start of the 1990’s it seem to have evolved as being perceived as the magical elixir of all that HR and Talent Management need.   So what is so wrong with multi-source feedback reports?  Let me count the ways. When considering doing 360˚ Feedback you have to understand the following five main points.
1.    What is the purpose of 360 feedback?  Some common uses:
a.    As part of a development workshop to provide participants with a focus on the behaviours they should pay attention to in the classroom
b.    As a part of performance management
c.     A tool in the identification and development of high potential employees
d.    As part of the data consideration in discussion on succession planning
e.    For individual development only
2.    Where do the statements of questions (behaviours) come from? 
a.    Are they from standardized and off the shelf feedback instruments? 
b.    Is it from you company’s own competency model? 
c.     Does the feedback include the behaviours that describe your company’s values?
3.    What is the scale you are using and how is the scale described?
a.    Are you asking how well this person demonstrates the behaviour?
b.    Are you asking how frequently they demonstrate it in comparison to the opportunities they had to demonstrate it.
c.     What scale are you using (e.g a four, five, six, or ten point)?
4.    Who selects the feedback providers?
a.    Manager
b.    The individual who is receiving the feedback
c.     A combination of a and b
d.    Human Resources
e.   Anyone who wishes to give the person feedback, it should be an open call for feedback.
5.    Who, in addition to the feedback receiver, sees the feedback is an additional factor. Who sees the feedback?
a.    The consultant and the feedback receiver only
b.    The manager and the feedback receiver only
c.     The manager, human resources and the feedback receiver
d.    Only the feedback receiver and they control who else, if anyone, sees it

These are some of the most basic issues that come up. There are other important issues that need to be addressed.  In my next blog post, I will discuss some important issues about the feedback tool and how to address them.

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