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360 degree feedback


Proceedings from the TrainingZONE Online workshop run here on 18 April, and led by experienced tutor, Andie Reeves:-

Andie Reeves: Hello - I'm Andie Hemming, Management Development Consultant. Our subject for today's workshop is 'Using 360 degree feedback in personal development'. 360 degree feedback is a process by which an individual gets feedback on their performance from their boss/es, peers/colleagues and subordinates. I think that it is an invaluable tool both for personal development and for appraisal purposes. Are there any particular areas you would like to cover today?

Andie Reeves: And Hi Sue - you're first in!

Sue Lickorish: Never done one of these workshops before - what happens?

Andie Reeves: Well Sue - we have a virtual chat on the subject - you have obviously mastered the technology and how to get in - now we just go with the flow and see how the conversation develops!

paul brennan: Hi there, I'm a first timer - can anyone shed some light on how to proceed?

Andie Reeves: Hello Paul, Stephanie and Tim - we're just getting started.

Tim Pickles: Good morning everyone - glad to see you're here Andie - I'll try and contribute from the office here. Do you want to kick off with suggesting some topics for people?

Andie Reeves: Yes, thank you Tim. I'd be interested to know what experience people have with this tool and how they de-brief it with their people. Also of course I'd be happy to answer any questions they might have.

Andie Reeves: Paul - are you ok with how this works?

paul brennan: Are we talking about a specific tool or just the generic use of 360 appraisal?

Tim Pickles: Andie, could you give people a few pointers to how you see the use of 360 degree feedback?

Andie Reeves: Both I guess - some companies use a specific tool and some just use the process - either works but the latter is often used because it is, or can be, anonymous!

paul brennan: We used an instruement called the Behavioural Indicator in the RAF some time ago and it was an unmitigated failure for a number of reasons. I'm happy to discuss but don't want to hog the show!

Andie Reeves: I have used 360 as part of the evidence gathering process for individuals leading up to personal development activity - either workshops or Action Learning Sets (where individuals meet up un-facilitated to assist each other in their development).

Andie Reeves: Paul - what was your experience - please feel free to hog!

paul brennan: We were introducing a new training package for our aircrew and it was felt that we needed something 'scientific' to back up the exercise. MBTI was fine and well accepted but the 360 instrument caused severe problems because of the perceived negative nature of the reports generated. Our people were not prepared for so much honesty!

Sue Lickorish: This is probably going to be out of synch: In my last firm we used it as part of the performance appraisal process. There were pros and cons - I think there was a lot of mistrust until people found it could actually benefit their careers! It was also used more effectively in personal development programmes

paul brennan: Our usage was primarily for development but it wouldn't work because it wasn't sold to the audience beforehand

Sue Lickorish: That 'selling' is key, as in any new initiative. The best tools will fail in the wrong hands!

paul brennan: In our case the overall project worked despite the system - all of the people selected to deliver the training were redundant after the project was completed - although the majority were volunteers!

Sue Lickorish: Andie, where do you see it being most effective?

Sue Lickorish: what happened - I lost contact then - server error - at your end?

paul brennan: I was very surprised at the reaction of our aircrew to this idea. Although it was new, they are all used to continually being assessed, often by peers. The 360 package asked them to provide 5 reporters from their peers, superiors and subordinates. However, becasue it wasn't presented as just a different spin on what they already knew, it failed

Stephanie Phillips: Hopefully not! Andie, are you still there? It would be helpful to know, as Sue says, where you see it as being most effective. In the organisations I've worked 360 degree appraisal was never developed because of the culture - is this something that needs to be changed first?

paul brennan: I strongly concur with the culture point - that's the problem for us!

Stephanie Phillips: Andie has lost her connection and is having real difficulties getting back in - she's going to keep trying though.

Stephanie Phillips: Paul - what happpened when the feedback failed? How far did you get with the process?

Sue Lickorish: I agree, this culture thing is an issue. It's interesting to consider if it's because people don't feel 'safe' enough to be vulnerable - is it to do with their experience in the present org., in previous ones or both (probably)

paul brennan: The training programme was saved by binning the behavioural indicator. More effective and efficient use was made of the MBTI to improve self awareness and the day was saved!! ;-))

Andie Hemming: Hello - I'm back - apologies was temporarily flummoxed by technology!

Tim Pickles: Sorry, everyone, Andie had some problems with our technology and is now back as

Andie Hemming: Sorry everyone - due to technology failure I am now behind in this conversation - where are we??!!

Tim Pickles: Andie Hemming

Andie Hemming: Paul - missed the reasons but why did your Indicator not work?

Stephanie Phillips: Andie - we're talking about whether the culture of the organisation needs to be changed in order to implement 360 degree feedback

paul brennan: We seem to be agreeing that culture is the major factor in the success of 360 appraisal

Andie Hemming: Agreed - although I have seen it work in quite 'negative' culture organisation - however, it MUST have the sign on and support of Senior Management in order to work.

paul brennan: Andie - the recipients of the feedback found it too negative for them to stomache and their reaction tarred the rest of the trg package

Stephanie Phillips: Are there any ways around this? Is it to do with how the feedback is communicated?

Andie Hemming: What a shame Paul - was their feedback facilitated (it's human nature to focus on all the bad things people said and ignore any positive feedback!).

Sue Lickorish: Interesting how feedback is primarily perceived as negative?? is this a British experience?

paul brennan: In our case very much so. Although there was the option to devote time to the feedback process, the written debrief (12 or so pages) was just handed out at the end of the course as the delegates left the trg room - nopt a good idea was it - I hasten to say that I was not involed in this programme at this stage!!

Sue Lickorish: Process comment - like the idea of this on-line stuff. takes some getting used to though - having disjointed conversations - feels a bit like being in a sketch!

Andie Hemming: Sue - yes, my experience with American 360 is that it is much more positively received! However, if individuals can be brought round to the way of thinking that this is the truth, no matter now unpalatable, the process of change usually starts. However, when people first get 360 for some it is an uncomfortable experience.

Andie Hemming: Of course for others it is a positively affirming experience! Funny that!:-)

paul brennan: I was trained in the use of the instrument and was warned that I would not be happy with my feedback - that was a powerful understatement! And my reporters were close colleagues with whim I had worked closely for over 18 months

Andie Hemming: I sympathise Paul - however, presumably there was good news in there too!

paul brennan: excuse my ds#yslic fungers!

Sue Lickorish: I think it's uncomfortable because of their own maps of the world - people bring a lot of their own baggage with them. If they don't have the negative association from the past, they will be much more open. What do you think?

paul brennan: There were as always a few gems among the debris but you had to look hard for them

Stephanie Phillips: It would be nice to think that if managed properly, it will always be a useful tool - does anyone think it should be used regularly, or would that be too much of a trauma?!

paul brennan: Sue - I agree, if you bring a bag of preconceptions, you have to throw away soem of them to make room for the new ideas - not always easy

Andie Hemming: Sue - I agree. And I also agree with Paul that the use of a psychometric (MBTI being ideal I think) really helps this process as people can understand that others may not be 'like them' and help to see where they're coming from.

paul brennan: Andie, I've gone off the MBTI becasue of the time to do it and for people to understand it fully. I'm converted to the Strength Deployment Inventory which is simpler and far more effective

Andie Hemming: Stephanie - my experience of 360 is that it works best when it's re-done once a year - gives the individual enough time to work on some of their 'stuff' (technical term!) and they can measure their improvement which is encouraging. Also if individuals know that others are going through the same process, and that's it's Company -wide it helps.

Sue Lickorish: Stephanie, wouldn't it be nice if it wasn't labelled as 360 feedback, but that people could get developmental feedback from their colleagues on an informal, day to day basis. Then it really would have become part of the culture. I know it happens in some orgs! Usually run by insightful leaders?

Andie Hemming: Paul - the quick MBTI is better I think as it can be easily done in groups. I like SDI too however!

Stephanie Phillips: Sue - yes, definitely! Maybe it's easier in smaller organisations?

paul brennan: We are currently using the SDI across the whole unit and everyone is so positive about it that people seek to find out their type - we haven't called it 360 so no-one thinks that that's what it is

Sue Lickorish: Sorry, am familiar with MBTI but not SDI - feeling left out!

Andie Hemming: It can be done in smaller organisations but this too has its drawbacks as they work closely together (and I do agree that it's a cultural thing). I really think that the keys are 1. approval and support from Senior Management 2. Humanely de-briefed, 3. With use it just becomes 'how we do things around here'.

paul brennan: Sue - please contact me direct and I will give you details

Andie Hemming: Sue - don;t feel left out! It's just another psychometric - but another good ne!

Stephanie Phillips: Andie - yes, those seem to be the key points, thanks for summarising. Are there any other areas to discuss around this?

Andie Hemming: I like the approach you use Paul - if you don't call it 360 do you call it anything?

paul brennan: Andie - I know it's semantics but I sell the SDI on it not being psychometrics - some people have barriers that rise as soon as that word is mentioned

Andie Hemming: True - but it is isn't it??!!

Andie Hemming: Have you used 360 in mentoring and counselling individuals?

paul brennan: Andie - sorry getting out of synch - I wish I had remembered the typing skills that I was taught in 1974! We use the SDI as the basis for our team working courses and rely on indivudals to make the links to 360 appraisal by askling them how easy it is to spot the type of family friends bosses etc

Andie Hemming: Excellent - do you use the 360 linked to specific competencies? Management or otherwise?

paul brennan: By spreading the SDI far and wide we have created a method for people to improve their interpersonal relationships especially in thwe mentoring and coaching roles

Andie Hemming: Do the whole company speak 'SDI-ese'? It is a valuable shorthand as it saves lengthy explanations!

Stephanie Phillips: has anyone come across the caliper uk online 360 feedback? I profiled it briefly on the site

paul brennan: We concentrate on awareness on interpersonal communication and soft skills areas

Andie Hemming: Stephanie - no I haven't - is this profile still available? I usually use Pilat in North London for my report generation.

Sue Lickorish: Ours was linked to 'core skills' areas - our competencies I suppose. The problem with feedback also included deciding which areas were relevant for each person. But it definitely makes it more structured and positive.

paul brennan: Andie - everyone from the mgt board down talk in 'colours' interestingly we had six courses before we got our first true red!

Stephanie Phillips: Paul - I can see that maybe that soft skills areas where 360 feedback can help - by the way, how does the colours scheme work?

Andie Hemming: Sue - I think you'd be interested in SDI - the different colours denote different personality traits - SDI also looks at what happens to those personalities once they are under pressure! Paul - I am a Hub to Hub - and you?

Andie Hemming: Paul - It's excellent that everyone understands it - positive re-inforcement or what!

Sue Lickorish: Great! I love anything with colour and pictures. Paul, can you send me more info? get my address by clicking on my name top right?

paul brennan: The SDI identifies preferred bahaviour patterns - red is directing assertive; blue is altruistic nurturing; green is autonomising analytical and the multi coloured hub is the team consensus player

Andie Hemming: Sue - how was it received with your guys?

paul brennan: Sue - happy to contact you later with fuller details

Stephanie Phillips: We're coming to the end of the available time now. Can I give a big thanks to Andie for her input, thanks to everyone for taking part and adding their bit!

Sue Lickorish: Better second and third years - once it was in the culture. Although people are still working on it. It's definitely made people more aware of their impact on others and that they need to keep developing themselves.

paul brennan: Andie - I'm a true tree hugging blue going green in conflict

Sue Lickorish: Thanks guys! See ya!

paul brennan: Bye bye everyone

Andie Hemming: Paul - aha! Thanks for joining all - hope to have a virtual conversation with you again sometime soon!

Stephanie Phillips: Bye


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