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360 Degree Feedback: What Everyone Thinks of You

360 Degree Feedback

360 Degree FeedbackOrganisational life revolves around performance monitoring and measuring. Often it’s a single person who will assess your performance. But what if they had access to the observations of all sorts of people who work with you in different ways? That’s the big idea that 360 Degree Feedback represents.

The idea and practice of 360 degree feedback has been through rises and falls since it first appeared in the 1950s. And it really took off in the 1990s. But it is as important today as it’s ever been. So, let’s examine 360 degree feedback from a number of angles.

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Feedback Mandatory

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.


’Feedback is the breakfast of champions’

This quote is most-often attributed to Ken Blanchard, but I have been unable to source it securely.  But its meaning is clear: It is a diet of good quality feedback that helps us grow and develop into top performers.

Feedback is the perfect accompaniment to goal-setting (which we looked at last week).  The two are so inter-twined and so fundamental that the very first Pocketblog started with an important experiment by Albert Bandura and Daniel Cervone that showed the power of these two in combination.

That post was called ‘Feedback Welcome’.  This one’s title is a nod in that direction, but takes it a step further.

As a manager, you have a responsibility to the people you manage and lead.  You must develop them, you must recognise their contributions and you must reward them for their effort.  Feedback is the principal way you can do that.

Feedback can be:

  1. Judgemental (‘what you did well/badly was…’) or
    Non-judgemental (‘I notice that what you did was… and this is what happened’)
  2. Positive (‘What you did that I liked was..’) or
    Negative (‘What I would like you to improve was…’)
  3. Outcome based (‘You got a really good result with…’) or
    Process based (‘I was impressed by the way that you…’)
  4. Comparative (‘Your work exceeded the standards for…’) or
    Absolute (‘Your work was excellent’)
  5. Personal (‘I want to thank you for your excellent work’) or
    Impersonal (‘You work met the highest standards’)

Give your Feedback a BOOST

Great feedback should give your colleagues a real BOOST.

Balanced
It will not be surprising to you to learn that, on all of the five scales above, balance is key.  Sticking to one style will rarely serve the person you are developing well.  Each pairing represents a spectrum of styles and you must select where on each spectrum to place the balance, to get best effect.  At different times and in different situations, a different point of balance will be appropriate.

Observed
Provide precise feedback based on genuine observation; rather than hearsay.  The more evidence you can offer and the more precise that evidence is; the better your colleague will be able to calibrate their performance and understand the implications of their choices.

Objective
By this, I mean that it is important to give feedback on performance, rather than on the person.  Compare these to examples of feedback:

‘The analysis you gave was confused.’

‘Your thinking was confused.’

The first is something I can fix and your feedback is based on something you can observe and evaluate.  The second, even if true is harder to fix, but critical; you have no direct evidence: my thinking may be logical and rigorous, but my writing style confused – or maybe I was distracted – or maybe…  The first can motivate me to sort out my work; the second will demotivate me, as I will feel it as a personal attack.

Specific
If my analysis was confused, I can only address it if I know how and where you assess my work to be confused.  The more specific your feedback, the easier it is for me to fix my work – or the easier it is for me to understand what parts are good.

Timely
Deliver your feedback as soon as appropriate  but not before. If the situation is not suitable, or if you do not have a robust basis for observed and specific feedback, then wait.  But only wait as long as is necessary.  Don’t put feedback off, or its value will diminish and may even be lost.

Further Reading 

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Sandwich Anyone?

There are one or two topics that get trainers hot under the collar.  My own pet peeve has always been the abuse by so many trainers of Albert Mehrabian’s work.  If you don’t know it, it’s the 55% – 38% – 7% ratios for facial, tonal and verbal communication.

Mehrabian

Mehrabian_CreativityWorks3I wrote about this for Training Journal in July 2007 but frankly, the best way to learn what Mehrabian really means is to watch the wonderful three and a half minute video by Creativity Works on YouTube.

So with Mehrabian comprehensively dealt with …

The Myth of the Feedback Sandwich

The story goes like this:

If you want to give someone great feedback, first tell them the things they do well, then tell them what they need to do better, and then, to avoid them losing too much confidence; remind them of their successes.  Voila: the feedback sandwich’

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Picture By SweetOnVeg

The feedback sandwich was a popular staple of management training courses when I was on the receiving end, in the early 1990s.  It probably still is.

Round 2: The Feedback Sandwich is rubbish

Most trainers now, rightly, eschew the feedback sandwich.  The argument goes like this:

All it is, is sugaring the pill.  When you re-iterate the good stuff, they will forget the filling in the middle.  It’s easier to focus on the good stuff and, anyway, we always remember the start of something and the end – that’s what I say in my Presentation Skills training.

And that is all very credible – if a little bluntly expressed.  I think I remember hearing myself say that once upon a time.

Round 3: Rehabilitating the Sandwich

Let’s think about the psychology of good communication.  After all, that is a pre-requisite for good feedback.

Before you can get any complex message across, you have to build a measure of rapport.  When you tell me what I have done well, I will probably recognise some of it, feel pleased that you have too, and start to trust you a little bit.  I am listening now.

So, when you have told me all the good news, I am listening hard.  And, because I trust that you have observed my performance carefully, I will listen to what else you have to say.  Don’t squander that: give me an evidence-based assessment of what I need to do differently to raise my performance to a higher level.

That can be quite a draining process, when done well.  So I may need some help processing it.  So that I don’t feel knocked back and alone, end our conversation by reminding me that, no matter how critical you have had to be about some aspects of my performance, you will continue to support me.

There’s the sandwich.  But now, the last component is not sugaring the pill, but forming a base to go forward.  The top is a nice tasty bun with seeds.  The middle is filling and nutritious.  The base is firm and supports the rest.  It’s a burger; a feedback burger! *

4239047183_11c5ba5ceb_m[1] Picture By SweetOnVeg

So here’s the deal

  1. Don’t cite the 55-38-7 rule without reading my article, watching the video or researching Mehrabian’s work properly and
  2. When you give feedback, pay attention to the stages of your communication process, and the needs of the person you are supporting.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

9781906610128 The Feedback Pocketbook

The Communicator’s Pocketbook

The Developing People Pocketbook

The People Manager’s Pocketbook

9781903776285The Performance Management Pocketbook

The Appraisals Pocketbook

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* Thank you to my friend, Leigh Grainger, for introducing me to the phrase ‘Feedback Burger’.

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How high is your “Feedback Credibility Barometer?”

You should never take acceptance of your feedback for granted. Creating the conditions to encourage acceptance requires work and focus. Here are some thoughts from Feedback Pocketbook author, Mike Pezet’s presentation at the recent UK HRD conference in April 2010.

Manage your credibility barometer

Many managers underestimate the impact their credibility has on the value, interpretation and acceptance of their feedback.  Credibility is broadly composed of a manager’s perceived competence and trustworthiness.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/ / CC BY 2.0

With a high credibility barometer

· The feedback has perceived value

· The feedback will be more readily
..interpreted as intended

· The feedback will be accepted more readily

With a low credibility barometer

· The feedback has limited value

· Interpretation will be wide and may
..focus on motives for the feedback

· The feedback may be difficult to accept

How to drive up your barometer reading

Here are three things that Mike recommends you can do to increase the level of your credibility barometer and improve the acceptance of your feedback.

  1. Demonstrate awareness and appreciation for the challenges people face in their jobs, and the activities they undertake
  2. Notice and draw attention to what people do well
  3. Discuss the feedback relationship before you try and give your feedback

Manage your judgements

Another important aspect of your credibility and having people accept your feedback is the reliability of the judgements you make.  Overestimating the accuracy of your judgments is easily done, but inaccurate feedback won’t be recognised and accepted.  It may even cause people to re-evaluate your credibility.

Our judgement broadly focuses on two types of cause:

  1. Environmental causes
    You assess me in the light of things I cannot control, such as events and other people
  2. Personal, or internal, causes
    Aspects of who I am and the things I can directly control, such as my character and personal style

Here are four things you can do to become a better judge and encourage acceptance:

  1. Suspend your judgement!
  2. Consider the range of causes of their behaviour
  3. Enquire into and explore their perspective of the situation
  4. Review and evaluate the objective evidence

So here’s the deal

Above all, develop co-ownership of your feedback, by creating a feedback contract and discussing the feedback relationship.  Then, ensure that you base your feedback on the soundest possible judgement – always stay critical of your own judgement process.

Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

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Feedback Welcome

Welcome to the Management Pocketblog.

This is a blog dedicated to all things management and we want it to reflect the values and style of the management pocketbooks series.  You can read more about the blog at the ‘New Readers’ tab.

What Feedback do you give?

9781906610128 The newly published Feedback Pocketbook opens with a shocking statistic:  33% of British employees consider they rarely or never get feedback on their performance.  If you have an equivalent statistic for any other country, please do let us know in the comments section, below.

So let’s assume that this represents around a third of British managers, failing to offer feedback – at least in a form that it is recognised.  Are you one of them?

Wasted opportunity

Feedback helps us develop and is arguably the most valuable performance-enhancing tool that managers have.  So if you are not giving great feedback, you are losing a noticeable slice of potential performance.  It doesn’t take a big performance loss, when multiplied across all  of a manager’s team, to account for the difference between a profitable and failing business, or a successful or collapsing service.

How big could that difference be?

Bandura and Cervone

In the early 1980s, Albert Bandura and Daniel Cervone conducted experiments with students at Stanford University, on a cycling ergo meter.  They measured the performance of eighty cyclists and then split them into four groups, balanced for gender and ability:

  1. Group A
    were set goals for performance improvement
  2. Group B
    were given no goals, but feedback on their performance
  3. Group C
    got both performance goals and feedback
  4. Group D
    were a control group and got neither goals nor feedback

At the end of a training period, Bandura and Cervone found that the twenty cyclists who had received both clear performance goals and feedback had improved their performance to a higher degree (by a factor of more than 2) than any other group.  Not surprisingly, the control group (D) showed least improvement.  Surprisingly, however, the control group only improved a little less than groups A and B.

Bandura&Cervone

Goal Setting and Feedback are both vital to great performance

So here’s the deal

Our goal

… is to engage in a dialogue with Management Pocketbook readers and anyone else interested in management.  Over the next six months, we’d like to get to at least 100 readers a week, and we want to get comments on most of our posts.

Your feedback

… is more than welcome.  Let us know what you think of our blogs and our books, and contribute your ideas to supplement ours.  Give us information and ideas, and tell us what you want.

Subscribe to this blog, so you don’t miss any of our posts – we look forward to the conversation.

Reference:
Self-Evaluative and Self-Efficacy Mechanisms Governing the Motivational Effects of Goal Systems,
Albert Bandura and Daniel Cervone,
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1983,
Vol 45, No. 5, 1017-1028

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