In other living creatures the ignorance of themselves is nature, but in men it is a vice.
Boethius(Roman scholar, Christian philosopher and statesman, AD 470-524)
Question: How can I deliver development initiatives for managers in my organisation, which are both personally engaging and have a real and relevant impact on individual and organisational behaviour?
Answer: Follow the evidence.
Off-the-shelf training programmes will not deliver engaged participants or real and relevant impact. Nor will programmes designed around menus of desirable behaviours or abstract prescriptions of ‘what great leaders do’. To deliver development initiatives which engage and excite your managers and which give rise to meaningful changes in their behaviour, and thus in organisational performance, you must first identify: i) real individual strengths (to be honed and supported) and ii) real individual blindspots (to be developed and compensated for).
It is surprising however just how many of us find it difficult to pinpoint our real strengths, or indeed our real weaknesses. Of course many of your managers would assume to answer this question, no doubt calling forth an army of strengths and a sprinkling of weaknesses. The extent to which these answers would paint a realistic picture of your managers’ performance is questionable however.
This is where 360° assessment comes in. Use 360° assessment to identify accurately strengths and weaknesses and, as a result, design development initiatives which make a real and relevant difference.
How it Works
In a 360° Assessment the appraisee receives feedback from a range of respondents who can provide a helpful and relevant perspective on their behaviour. Anyone who routinely comes into contact with the appraisee can be a respondent; peers, managers, subordinates, external or internal customers. By tapping into such diverse perspectives, 360° assessment delivers a balanced, multi-dimensional analysis of appraisee performance.
The feedback is provided via a survey, delivered to respondents via email and completed online. The survey comprises a series of behavioural criteria. Behavioural criteria are used because behaviours, unlike abstract abilities or traits, can be directly seen by the appraisee’s colleagues. Each respondent rates how effectively the appraisee has been implementing each behaviour. The appraisee also assesses themselves using the same survey. Individual responses are anonymous, facilitating greater disclosure.
What Will the Results Tell Me?
The output of the 360° Assessment process is a report detailing how the appraisee is perceived by each of the respondent groups (Managers, Peers, Subordinates etc.). These perceptions are compared and contrasted with the appraisee’s self-perceptions, giving rise to significant diagnostic power. This report is fed back to the appraisee by an expert coach and explored in a one-to-one session. Areas of low rating or areas where there is a gap between the ratings of the different respondent groups and/or the appraisee’s ratings highlight areas on which to focus development activity. Together the appraisee and the coach identify these areas and action plan development activity to bridge the gaps. The 360o Assessment can then be conducted again after a period of development to assess progression.
Why Use 360° Assessment?
Unlike other assessment methods, the 360° Assessment illuminates how the appraisee impacts the organisation, and the people around him/her. Combining the perspectives of each of the respondent groups paints a multi-dimensional and practical picture of the individual's strengths and weaknesses. This picture is a powerful launch pad for real and meaningful personal development and powerful behavioural change.
Because the 360° Assessment is behaviourally based, it describes personal impact with profound clarity. Personal development is accelerated as clear behavioural examples of strength and blindspots are provided directly to the appraisee. For example, rather than suggesting that an individual “work on their communication skills”, the 360° Assessment process might identify that an individual needs to “provide clear instructions on task goals, outputs and processes when delegating work to subordinates”. This greater specificity significantly aids efforts to address the performance gap.
360o assessment is also a powerful tool for benchmarking progress. Carried out before and after some intervention, such as a coaching or training programme, it elucidates the progress the individual makes as a result of the development process.
Using 360° assessment speaks volumes about an organisation’s commitment to meaningful development, both as an organisation and for individuals.