Blog News and Knowledge from CR Systems


    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.

    To find out more about CR Systems Products and Services click on the image below.



    The vast majority of clients that we work with use 360-degree feedback specifically for personal development. There are a few organisations that have adopted the processes and procedures for performance appraisals. We would always suggest that this should be approached with great care, and only after significant effort in developing the quality of the framework, understanding the culture of the company, validating and analysing the meta data, being absolutely clear how it is to be used and what the outcomes will look like for those involved in the process.

    … and then we would suggest they think again!

    Here are some pointers as to the differences you might wish to consider in the 360° Feedback process if you intend to use 360-degree feedback in performance appraisals:

    1. Tread softly into the dark night. Do not, ever, consider using the results of 360° Feedback without being absolutely sure that there is a meaningful relationship between the results of the 360° Feedback within your organisation and the performance metrics that you use in your business. This usually means running it as a personal development tool for a couple of years at least. Let’s face it if you can’t see how it fits into a performance appraisal, then it is highly unlikely that anyone else will.

    2. Prepare the Team Set the expectation that the feedback route is the one you’re taking for your upcoming appraisal. Explain precisely the part it will play in the appraisal, why you have decided to include it, how much it will contribute to the outcome of the appraisal and the steps you will be taking to ensure that the feedback results are as valid as possible. Set the expectations early and make sure that you manage any concerns before the process starts.

    3. Remove the Democracy from the process. By introducing 360° Feedback results into the Performance Appraisal process you are now explicitly linking behaviour in the workplace to performance. This is a serious step and inconsistencies will have consequences. One of the perennial areas of inconsistency is the bias that can be introduced through selective choice of feedback respondents. You need to make sure that the process is as consistent and repeatable as possible for all taking part. We would suggest that you remove one opportunity for bias to creep in by removing the selection choice from the candidates. Create universal rules such as “Feedback will be received from all reports and all colleagues who work with the candidate on a regular basis and have known the candidate for greater than six months”

    4. Ensure strong interactions as best you can It may seem obvious, but feedback works best when the rater actually interacts with the feedback recipient on a regular basis. Do the due diligence on whether your raters are indeed best-placed to provide authoritative insights.

    5. Smaller and more often is better than larger and infrequent. 360° Feedback requires a massive amount of organisational time compared to any other form of testing. Rather than lumping all participants into a large melting pot, work in smaller groups, to ensure the feedback is focused and inclusive of the right individuals. This will also reduce the tendency towards “Survey fatigue” where respondents become overwhelmed with the process and focus on completion rather than quality of completion. Make sure you understand and respect the time commitment required for those giving feedback.

    We will cover the final 5 in part two.

    If you’d like to discuss the issue of using 360 degree feedback in performance appraisals in more detail or have anything that you would like to add from your experience below, then we’d love to hear from you.

    To find out more about CR Systems Products and Services click on the image below.



    Find your weakest link

    I’ve talked a little about the cost of free products and those promising to be easy and simple in previous posts. I’ve discussed the importance of understanding your specific needs to work out requirements for selecting the right 360 degree feedback tool. But if you already use a 360 degree feedback system, you may be wondering how well it does the job. If you’d like to take a look at how well your current 360 feedback system works, if it can be improved or if there are processes that are broken and need fixing, we’ve developed the Behave! framework to help you do just that.

    Based on six key phases in the evaluation of a behavioural development programme, the Behave! framework can be used to review your current system and goals, identify areas where improvements can be made or help you determine a specification for a new behavioural development system.

    There are six modules in the Behave! framework that take you through each of the major review phases you need to look at, to make sure you’re getting the best out of your behavioural development process. The framework isn’t intended to direct you towards a specific 360 degree feedback solution, but is designed to help you identify elements critical to your success and find any weak links that might reduce the effectiveness of the process.

    Almost all systems, especially linear systems, depend for quality on the output of their weakest component, not their best. For example, a top of the range $50,000 audio system might fail to deliver the sparkling sound quality read about in reviews or heard in a shop, because of something as simple as a loose connection between the amplifier and the speakers. Or the sound quality may be poor because the system’s been set up in a garage, where the acoustics are terrible. These are typical examples of both how a tiny thing can make a huge difference and also of how sometimes no matter how perfectly something is designed there are elements outside of the system that can significantly effect its performance.

    Behavioural development processes are systematic and work in just the same way – they give great or mediocre results based on the weakest part of the system and the environment in which they are used. To improve the quality of a behavioural development process each system component needs to be examined in turn and any weaknesses identified and rectified.

    Just like the example of the audio system, failure points in a behavioural development system may not be big, expensive or obvious. Instead they’re probably small, inexpensive or subtle and consequently easily overlooked. Just like the audio system set up in the garage, outputs from a behavioural development system are dependent on the context and environment in which the system operates. These can have a significant effect on the quality of your 360 degree feedback system’s outcomes. Many companies are disappointed with results after buying a top of the range 360 feedback solution, not because the system is poor, but because its not appropriate to their business context.

    The Behave! Framework consists of the following six modules:

    • Getting the preparation right
    • Measuring the right things
    • Asking the right questions
    • Obtaining the right answers
    • Giving the right feedback
    • Supporting the right development

    The Behave! framework you can consider the contribution of the different system components, as well as internal and external factors impacting on the system, to identify any weaknesses and build on strengths. Using the Behave! framework allows you to identify and resolve issues to maximise the quality of your 360 feedback system outputs.

    We believe everyone should get the best from their behavioural review process. Our Behave! framework is based on years of experience working with businesses and corporations of all sizes and in all industries. The Behave! analysis consists of a four step process:

    1. Online diagnostic
    2. Initial review
    3. Stakeholder workshop
    4. System report and process map

    The online questionnaire takes you through the six essential steps in evaluating all the issues you need to consider for your behavioural development system. We then produce an initial diagnostic report that summarises the potential areas for development within the system that we review with you. This is followed by a workshop with the major stakeholders in the process and then a full report and process map is created.

    If you just wish to gain some insights into your current system you might wish to just undertake the diagnostic and receive the summary report, without committing to the complete process.

    To find out more about CR Systems Products and Services click on the image below.



    E=MC2 is one of those fundamental equations that most people have heard of (even if they don’t understand it). It is a very simple equation that has had a profound effect on our world for almost a century.

    What has this got to do with Management Change (apart from the neat link with MC2 in the equation)? It is in two areas:

    1. The simple stuff is not always as easy as it looks
    2. We often get tripped up by simple things, not because we don’t understand them, but because we treat them with sufficient care.

    I was recently reading an excellent article from the Harvard Business Review where the focus was on the importance of managing communication. Several of the comments that followed the article mentioned the fact that is was so simple or obvious to involve people in the process. Why does it appear that the “simple” things get overlooked or forgotten so often?

    The focus for most change programs appears to be so often predicated on the “What” in terms of skills and process change. The “Why”, including the communication issues at the heart of the HBR article and the “How”, as in the individual behavioural changes that enable the skills, processes and communications to be implemented effectively and more importantly consistently effectively, are usually at the core of the 8 out of 10 failures that were alluded to in the article .

    The What, Why and How are just as important as each other for any change management process to be effective, so why is it that so often such a relatively small amount of time and resource are spent on the Why and the How? It’s nearly always in the detail that the Why and How are lost and therefore there are a myriad of possible answers to this but most of them come under one of three headings:


    The concentration on process has understimated the organisations will and ability to change. There is insufficient foundation to support the scope of the change.


    Most communication failures fall under one of three categories

    1. The message quite simply isn’t spread, or it is not spread consistently
    2. There is little/no allowance for tuning via critique or feedback of the process from stakeholders
    3. The rationale and benefit is chunked too high or too low for individuala. If the pluralism within a workforce is ignored, there is a tendency to believe that one benefit will be sufficient for all.


    The social elements of the change have been insufficiently considered. The change in attitude and behaviour that will be required to support the process change is not built into the DNA of the project. Very often it is not even considered or at best inadequately articulated. However for most significant Management Change programmes there is unlikely to be any performance change without behavioural and attitudinal change.

    We would be delighted to hear of your experiences of the simple things that either form a barrier to change programmes or, as in most cases, end up sub-optimising the benefits of the programme.

    To find out more about CR Systems Products and Services click on the image below.



    When free and easy and simple just don’t cut the mustard.

    As 360° Feedback providers we have been responsible for the design, customisation and administration of the analytics behind great leadership and development programmes for over 15 years

    Easy and Simple

    I don’t know about you, but I have never come across software or services making a virtue of how complicated they are to use. More often than not we’re told how simple and easy even the most complex systems are to use.

    My concern when I see these strap-lines particularly when they’re used to describe complex products that can be very intrusive on an organisation’s time, is that they can so often translate to ‘basic’ and/or ‘limited’.

    As users we all want systems that are simple and easy to use. Almost every software company producing high quality products tries to make their product as accessible as possible, from the design of the user interface, to the quality of technical support. But also as business users, even though we demand ease of use, we also want systems that can handle variation, accommodate complex processes and yet still be flexible enough to grow with us, as our business grows.

    So in summary the perfect system is one that is simple for everyone to use and also fits perfectly within the individual business environment.

    Getting to simple

    Customers are right to want to invest in systems that are both easy and simple to use. However they also want systems that “fit” with their specific requirements, resource, culture and budget.

    The truth is that it is only after sorting out the difficult bits first – by mapping processes, understanding culture, defining resource, and articulating outcomes – that the virtues of ‘simple and easy’ can come into play.

    When the systems also involve the processing of confidential and sensitive information from each member of staff, then balancing the needs of the individual with the culture of the organisation is usually a matter of optimising under a curve, rather than a definitive right or wrong. For an important yet sensitive process like 360 Feedback, your company’s needs will depend on a range of factors, from trust in the process, to how the output from the system is used by the individual and the company. Together these wide ranging factors make the route to understanding your specific requirements variable and time consuming.

    We’ve amassed considerable experience over the years in helping customers understand their needs. We help companies design 360 degree feedback systems that give great results, quickly and reliably, accommodating for the comfort level in giving feedback and minimising the time taken to achieve the feedback. From what we’ve learnt from working with our customers, we know that the philosophy driving your 360 feedback system, the comfort in giving feedback and how you will use the results from the system drives the effectiveness of the system almost more than anything else. Over the years we have created a six step process that we call “Behave!”, which enables our clients to work out for themselves the best solution for their needs. Once they have done this, the rest is then both simple and easy!!

    Behave! … Getting 360° systems right for your organisation

    1. Understand (company, culture, goals, resource)
    2. Ask the right questions
    3. Get the right answers
    4. Give the right feedback
    5. Provide the right support
    6. Measure the right things

    Understanding how Behavioural Development is to fit within the organisation takes most of the work, but the nice thing is that you most probably have the all answers, you just haven’t needed to ask them with Behavioural Development in mind.

    We will take a look at each of the key issues in greater detail in future posts on the philosophy and the use of 360 feedback. They will, I hope, help your thoughts in considering exactly what kind of system best matches your needs. The better you understand your organisation’s needs and comfort with any kind of feedback, the easier it will be for you to work out the kind of tools to help you deliver 360° feedback, regardless of how simple and easy the tools claim to be.

    We have been responsible for the design, customisation and administration of the behavioural analytics behind great leadership and management development programmes for over 15 years.

    To find out more about CR Systems Products and Services click on the image below.



    We have just spent the last few months trying to understand how best to integrate Social Media into our business and I thought that I would share our experience and learning as complete beginners to the process.

    1. Little is best and least is perfect – Choose one platform at a time (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ etc) and become a master in it. These platforms can be mastered in relatively little time (a couple of months), so within a year you will be completely comfortable and have found your optimum medium/media
    2. Don’t Broadcast – The internet is full of people shouting into the vacuum in the vain belief that they are “selling” their wares. It achieves very little and actively turns off the vast majority of those people who are trying to engage intelligently
    3. Listen before you talk – Take the time to search and listen for people who are talking about your business, before you start talking.
    4. Choose your friends carefully – As in life be selective in who you spend your time with.
    5. Giving is easy and rewarding – Be generous in your “Likes”, Retweets and +1s. Take the time to applaud and redistribute the good stuff. You will (hopefully) be amazed at the friends that you make along the way
    6. Volume is not value – There is a tremendous urge and a lot of peer pressure to have the most friends or followers, and many ways of showing off. There is no doubt that there are positive effects in volume, but in general for most businesses there is much greater benefit in being able to be a real friend to a “special” few.
    7. Bring your personality to the party – People buy from people. If you can share your love of scuba-diving, poetry, gastronomy, gardening or whatever gives you joy, you will find others who find the same resonance … and some of them will want to know more about you and your business. They might not buy from you (or they might not), but they may know a friend (or a friend of a friend) who might.
    8. Find and friend the thought leaders – We would all like to think that we might be thought leaders in our particular industry, but it is an incredible conceit to believe that we might be the only one who has something valid to say. Find the people who are publishing the most valuable content and take the time to comment and join in on their discussions.
    9. Be a friend first – As you trawl through the internet you will find all kinds of ways in which you might be able to help someone, beyond the +1s and retweets. Try to find ways to connect people to other people that might help or be of interest.
    10. Be consistent – What you put out there will be there forever. If you are to be trusted you need to consistent both in terms of the quality of your contribution but also in the quantity of contribution.

    We are still very much learning and would be delighted to hear your experiences.

    To find out more about CR Systems Products and Services click on the image below.