Saturday, 5 May 2013

Last time, we shared the first 5 in the 10 must-haves when using 360 degree feedback to conduct performance appraisals. Where there’s a part 1, there’s usually a part 2. Wait no longer – here’s 5 more elements to consider:

6. Rate the Behaviour not the Competence There’s sometimes a temptation to reduce response loading by rating overall areas of competence or sub-sections, rather than individual behaviours. There appears to be a particular emphasis on this approach in the legal and accounting professions. The behavioural indicators add comparatively little effort in comparison to the significantly increased quality and accuracy of feedback.

7. Make surveys manageable. This follows from the previous point. There is an optimisation process required to ensure that respondents time is respected and kept to a minimum, whilst ensuring that the feedback is rich and relevant. Many organisations either cut a heavy swathe through the framework to reduce response time to a minimum, or overload the poor respondents with every shade of grey. In both cases it is often done without any real intellectual horsepower applied to the end result. There is no doubt that the goal must to keep the feedback needs sufficiently short so as to keep participants interested and on-side, but not without losing the quality of response required to enable the individual concerned to gain real insight from the process. If you have a large set of behaviours in mind, think carefully as to whether they are all necessary to describe best practice for the competence to which they relate. A rule of thumb is usually somewhere between 5 and 8 behaviours should comfortable describe any competence. Any more and you may well have more than one competence you are trying to describe. Any less and you have to ask how critical is this competence to the framework.

8. Create Frameworks that reflect your strategy and your culture. There’s a temptation to use standard, off the shelf frameworks for 360 Feedback. One of the great benefits of using a standardised frameworks is that it can enable broader benchmarking and comparison. However this usually misses the point that a Competence Framework is supposed to underpin the strategy of a company within it’s stated market. If you believe that a one size fits all Competence Framework benefits your company then surely you would also subscribe to a one size fits all strategy? Another reason that companies use standard Frameworks is that it is a quick way of getting started. This is understandable and can be helpful when using the 360° Feedback for occasional coaching or individual development, but it so often ends up becoming a legacy framework that has no real relation to strategy. We would always encourage clients to do the hard miles and not miss the opportunity to better understand how the intricacies of your business and culture both define and limit your ability to succeed in your strategy. Spend time tailoring the Competences and Behaviours for your specific needs, making them relevant to your business, strategy, culture and people.

9. Make sure the scale is understood Ratings and scales can be confusing. Make them simple and make sure you communicate exactly what a rating means. Better understanding up-front means better feedback thereafter.

10. Test, test and retest. Pilot the process. Consistently analyse the meta data and distribution to see how well they compare to similiar performance metrics. If the comparison has little or no meaningful relationship, or the distribution is so narrow as to make sensible differentiation unreliable, then go right back to the beginning and ask yourself what purpose the process serves within a performance review.

If you’d like to understand a little more of the issues involved request our Behave! brochure, which outlines the six areas to consider in detail when implementing any 360° Feedback process within an organisation.

Have you used 360-degree feedback in your internal performance appraisals? What have you learned from the process that you would add to our list above? We would love to hear from you.

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