Workplace Culture

Dear Workforce What Should We Consider Before Implementing a System of Multirater Feedback?

By Staff Report

Sep. 7, 2011

Dear Resistant to Change:

You are right to be cautious. The profession is littered with failure stories of ill-conceived 360-degree feedback. Lack of clarity of purpose, too little planning, too much data entry, too little focus on organizational change and communication—these are the common pitfalls that will sink a 360 initiative. These risks are especially high in a culture of traditionalism that is averse to change.

But when carefully planned and executed, and with the right goals and systems in place, 360-degree feedback can be highly effective in your leadership development process—even in a slow-to-change environment. The following is a summary of leading practices that can serve as a guide:

1. Link your 360-degree strategy and process to corporate strategy and goals. Understand which corporate-level measures you hope to affect in rolling out the new process. Is it to increase innovation? Drive growth in new markets? Is it to expand and better manage the leadership pipeline to increase internal promotions or drive growth from within? Communicate the initiative in a way that ties the process to corporate goals and strategies. Traditionalist culture is best transformed when business impact is clearly articulated.

2. Determine whether the 360-degree process is a developmental or a performance measurement process. Do not try to have it be both. You cannot accomplish both in one process. More and more companies are moving toward viewing 360-degree feedback as a purely developmental process. Development-focused reviews yield better, more honest feedback and reduce the level of fear and resistance to the process.

3. Position it as part of a broader leadership planning and performance management process. It is one element of many that enable the organization to manage its talent pipeline.

4. Don’t view 360-degree feedback as a panacea to measuring leadership performance. It can be a crucial element, but it won’t suffice on its own. Consider implementing a talent assessment process in conjunction with a development-focused 360-degree process. Many organizations today find that the performance management process doesn’t provide the information they need about leaders (or any critical role for that matter) to properly develop and plan for the future. To address this, they are putting into place content-rich assessments designed specifically for critical talent. Talent assessment processes include information such as leadership behaviors/competencies, learning agility, risk of turnover, readiness for next position and so on.

5. If the primary goal is to gather feedback to build individual development plans, think about who you want to include: Matrix reporting relationships, team/project members and customers/partners are often the most insightful raters in a 360 initiative.

6. Leverage technology.The sheer number of people involved and volume of documents to be combined and reconciled makes an automated system a necessity.

SOURCE: Heidi Spirgi, president, Knowledge Infusion, Danville, California

LEARN MORE: For additional insight on the value of ongoing feedback, please read “Are First-Time Managers Really Better Off With Training?”

Workforce Management Online, October 2010Register Now!

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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