Sample employee appraisal commentsThe term 360 Degree Appraisal is becoming increasingly familiar in modernorganizations, although in practice, 360 feedback is more often linked to PerformanceReview, Coaching and Leadership Development. Our experience suggests Three KeyQuestions organizations should ask about 360. Firstly, Why has the idea of the 360Degree Leader become so Popular? Secondly, What are the Essential Steps linked toSuccessful Implementation? and finally, Is there anything New we should know about360 Design - and 360 Degree Feedback Software?360 OverviewThe idea of multi-rater assessment goes back a long time. The principle underpins thedesign of Assessment Centres, first introduced by the military in World War Two, andsubsequently in AT&T and other large organizations. 360 degree feedback is part of thismulti-rater tradition, but it has only recently become easy to administer using high-speedinternet connectivity. The process involves a Focus Person, i.e. the subject of the 360feedback, receiving feedback from various work associates. An in-depth report thenprovides insight into the views of these various groups and forms the basis for a follow-up discussion, which may also lead to further development activities, particularly in thecontext of leadership skills training.Why has the Idea of the 360 Degree Leader Become so Popular?There is a growing recognition that leadership skills are becoming a core element of amanagers role. This means that task focus has to be supported by appropriate peopleskills. Organizations characterized by high productivity have managers who are able to:(i) Energize and Motivate their People(ii) Manage Role Relationships in a way that Minimizes Problems and MaximizesOpportunities to Achieve Positive Outcomes.Increasingly, effectiveness is viewed in terms of meeting the expectations of specificgroups of work associate, whilst also ensuring that actions are aligned to wider corporateobjectives.The Balanced Processing of Information required to position problems effectively andmake sound decisions is dependent on a high level of Self Awareness. It is therefore vitalthat managers and more senior professionals are responsive to feedback and can evaluatetheir personal judgement in the context of the task and the people. In other words, there isa need to Balance both Internal and External perspectives to make sound decisions.
This Personal Insight does not develop by chance, and we know that High Potentials aremore skilled (and objective) in gauging their effectiveness in handling challengingsituations. We see this objectivity in the Self Review ratings made by more-effectivedelegates after completion of Assessment Centre Exercises. Well-designed 360 degreefeedback creates opportunities to explore both the behaviour and thought processes thatinfluence performance outcomes. This is the basis of double loop learning, which is oneof the building blocks of Learning Agility. It is also interesting to note that one of thedifferentiators of High Potentials is their Learning Agility, which involves applyingexisting knowledge in new ways, quickly adapting to the demands of complex, unfamiliarsituations. It is evident that 360 degree feedback has the potential to play a key part inraising awareness of Critical Success Factors that are Role Specific and affectperformance outcomes.Although there may be some initial concerns about the impact of 360, the combination ofobjective feedback and constructive follow-up is generally valued by managers whoparticipate. Structured, open discussion of performance issues can also contribute to awider change of thinking about the process of Self Review, effective Learning Strategies,and wider Leadership Performance.What are the Essential Steps that Underpin the Introduction of a Successful 360?It is quite often suggested that 360 degree feedback should start at the top and cascadedown through the organization. This may sometimes be of value, but more important isthe overall positioning of the 360. It is very helpful to have the introduction viewed aspart of a wider HR process that has a clear relationship to performance and professionaldevelopment. This means that the 360 should be linked to (a) the Context e.g. change /new challenges, and (b) Constructive Outcomes, e.g. adequate learning resources thatsupport Self Development. In some cases the focus may be on individual coaching, oralternatively, initial one-to-one feedback may be followed by leadership developmentworkshops and practical leadership skills training.Not all organizations have an open and learning-orientated culture and in this situationgreater effort is required to build commitment to the 360 process. One approach, that mayencourage positive engagement, is to discuss the people issues that are linked to a newtechnical initiative, system or process. Even the best systems, to achieve positive results,require committed people, and those people also need to maintain positive workrelationships with others.The 360 review must also ensure confidentiality, and this helps build the confidencerequired for people to give honest responses. However, for organizations that are furtheralong the 360 highway, some systems now give the option for respondents to add theirname to written comments. The essential point is that the 360 degree feedback softwaremust offer the flexibility to allow easy tailoring of the questionnaire content and the finalreport.Effective Management of Role Relationships: "Why Intelligent 360?"
The focus on Managing Role Relationships is critical in many work situations, especiallythose requiring the commitment of direct reports, colleagues, internal and externalcustomers, business partners or stakeholders. In the case of managers, its possible toidentify a range of Scenarios that create challenges and demands. These often representCritical Incidents i.e. difficult situations, where the behaviour of the manager is the keyto the outcome. In this context, use of 360 degree performance appraisal looks promising,but what steps are required to get the maximum benefit?In traditional 360 design, a single set of questions has been directed to everyoneproviding feedback. However, analysis of 360 questionnaire results suggests that when aCannot Say option is provided, up to 48% of respondents may decline to answer somequestions. This is generally because the questions are not relevant to those respondents.The result is an overly long questionnaire that is viewed as irrelevant by many of the busyprofessionals who are providing feedback. This undermines the credibility of the wholeprocess.The single most important change in recent 360 degree feedback design involvestargeting specific questions to different groups of respondent. This means that weonly ask Business Partners the questions that make sense to Business Partners! We alsoneed to incorporate written comments that can highlight areas of Strength, as well asopportunities for Development. Feedback comments should therefore be linked toActivities. The first step in constructive feedback often involves reviewing the Contextthat relates to specific comments.This approach is at the heart of Intelligent 360 and also adds new focus to the idea ofEmotional Intelligence. The Effective Management of Role Relationships is closelyaligned with the EI attributes of Self Awareness, being responsive to others, and SelfRegulation i.e. considering the impact of actions on others. Balanced Processing ofInformation is also one of four key attributes associated with Authentic Leadership.With effective briefing of all involved in the 360 degree feedback process, comments aregenerally measured and constructive. This is a significant step towards building alearning organization.Practical Questions Relating to 360 Degree FeedbackNot all 360 degree feedback software incorporates the latest design and technical supportfeatures. It is most important that the administration is largely automated, offers effectivereminder and follow-up arrangements, and encourages ownership of the process by theFocus Person. Ideally, internet access is backed by facilities to input paper versions ofthe 360, and all aspects of the design should have scope to be tailored to requirements.The latest 360 includes questions targeted to different groups of respondent, supportmaterials relating to design, and a library of questions that can be used as the start pointfor a new questionnaire.
Reports should also have options for tailored content, and the best examples combinerating of competencies and questions that invite written comment. The prompt headingslinked to the written sections may relate to effectiveness in handling particular situations,or more general comments about strengths and areas for development. The online ControlPanel should place the client administrator in the position to easily review progress, addor edit respondent details, re-start or edit auto-emails, and finally, generate reports in pdfor Word formats.Finally, before deciding on a 360 provider, consider the options for wider use of the datacollected through the 360 feedback process. In addition to generating high qualityindividual reports, the latest 360 software will also produce 360 Group Reports that helpidentify overall Strengths and Weaknesses. This is done by combining all the 360feedback and then filtering by such categories as Division, Region and Office. Itencourages the Divisional and Section Heads to become directly involved in a discussionconcerning the training needs suggested by the 360 feedback. It is possible, for example,that positive relationships between team members conceal difficulties with specific issuesof concern to customers, or the need for more positive interaction with business partners.The new generation of 360 software, with its strong focus on Role Relationships, offers aforward-looking approach to Training Needs Analysis. The combination of targetedquestions, online administration, and flexibility in the range of Group Reports that can begenerated, makes the analysis very straight-forward. As it is also grounded in real life,there is naturally a strong base to follow-up with practical leadership skills training.CostsIf you are designing your own 360 degree feedback questionnaire, and tailored report,you should be able to find a supplier who offers this facility free of charge. Some 360systems still require a fee to register, or restrict the number of respondents or categories(colleagues, direct reports etc) that can be included in the report. The advice here is thatflexible should mean Flexible, and if some wished-for aspects of functionality are notcurrently available, it is often possible to have these added. A competitive price onindividual reports should also be coupled with volume discounts, and there may be theoption of a long-term licence.SummaryIn conclusion, 360 degree feedback can be used simply to support a coaching session, orform part of a broader HR initiative linked to Leadership Development. Intelligent 360software, coupled with careful planning of how best to introduce the process, andprofessionalism in managing feedback, gives organizations a powerful tool that canachieve real changes in Managers behaviour. The process can encourage greateropenness and create insight into new learning strategies linked to RelationshipManagement. In the War for Talent, companies need to use the most effective tools toengage managers and strengthen leadership performance.
The latest 360 initiatives finally give HR managers the flexibility and focus required topinpoint the Role-Related Critical Success Factors linked to high performance. Recentresearch includes in-depth analysis of the specific issues that are most relevant to direct-reports. The relevant behaviour can easily be included in the design of new 360 degreeleadership questionnaires.http://performanceappraisalebooks.info/ : Over 200 ebooks, templates, forms forperformance appraisal.