360 Feedback can be effective in assessing leaders on the main tasks for achieving business goals and objectives, exhibiting technical competence as well as developing and articulating a vision. However, the marketplace can be very confusing. Here are five factors to keep in mind for a robust ROI in executing 360 at your company:
- Measure actual behaviors versus traits. For example, top performing leaders have “commitment.” But what’s the outcome of that quality? What do they Do with it? Behaviors, being action-orientated, are coachable and can be changed. Traits, on the other hand, are as part of one’s nature as eye color. They may or not influence behaviors and tend to be static.
- Identify areas of development. A strengths-only based 360 is like giving every kid on the team a trophy. Instead, when one identifies behaviors that fall below the norm or gaps and blind spots leaders can grow and improve performance. Isn’t that what development is all about? The debrief should be done with heart (as well as backbone!) reframing “weaknesses” as key opportunities.
- Opt for an on-line platform that allows participant and coach to filter data, focus on the primary results and formulate a plan. Otherwise, you’re going to get back a big ‘ol (60+ pages or more!) data-intensive report to analyze. The result is often a time-consuming, confusing process with hard to digest information that ends up at the bottom of a drawer. So, make certain you have a dynamic web-based tool to make perfect sense of all that data and where to go with it.
- Provide executive summaries. When senior managers or HR is steering development initiatives it’s important they have a 37,000-foot view of the confidential results with highlights. Successful development relies on an internal feedback loop, so it’s critical that more senior or HR staff have enough information to be supportive throughout the participant’s leadership journey while maintaining confidentiality.
- Get hands-on support. Design mistakes and “failure to connect the process” are both cited as common reasons for assessment failure. Don’t go it alone. Your provider should be a partner for a smooth implementation that ensures stakeholders respond promptly, makes participants feel comfortable (even excited!) and sees that action is the consequence of results. Professional project management will guarantee your organization has focus, goals, and strategy that make your investment worthwhile. Data is useless unless it’s managed and integrated into your company’s processes. And unless you provide 360 assessment for a living or have very extensive experience, it’s likely not your core competency.
360 Feedback can be a valuable tool in fostering HiPos (high potentials), modifying ineffective leader behaviors and leveraging strengths. Covering the finer points in selecting the right model and source will make your life easier as well as significantly increase odds of success!
Ann-Marie Heidingsfelder is Principal and Lead Business Consultant at Partner4Success, a Blanchard Channel Partner. Ann-Marie holds an MBA and a Boston College BA in Psychology. She received the International Coach Federation’s Associate Coaching Credential and is an ATD certified trainer. Ann-Marie is also published extensively in print and online and authored The 20 Minute Sales Coach: Improve Sales Performance & Increase Sales in as Little as 20 Minutes a Day. Before consulting, Ann Marie held senior leadership roles within the Fortune 500.