If you're searching for a better way to more fully evaluate your company's culture, the accuracy of job descriptions, employee performance, and the efficacy of everyday business practices and procedures, you might resolve, in 2000, to experiment with 360° feedback. (360° refers to the direction of the feedback, whether from competing teams, supervisors, direct reports, members of the board, vendors, clients, and anyone in between who can share meaningful information on the subject at hand.) Today, loads of companies are using multi-rater evaluations to help set career paths for employees, groom shop people for managerial positions, or identify the most qualified successor to the CEO post. Or, they might incorporate individual (or team) evaluation results into pay-for-performance plans. The uses of 360° feedback are plentiful, restricted perhaps by imagination alone.
|A CEO Recalls His First Experience with 360° Feedback|
"In a management program sponsored by Dale Carnegie, I was the subject of a 360° evaluation. It was fairly long, perhaps 40 to 50 questions. The raters were strictly anonymous. I guess I scored high almost across the board because I pass out the paychecks. But through that exercise, I realized that my temper was an issue. When I get angry, I get motivated, but that anger demotivated everyone else. At times, I was unapproachable. Consequently, people brought me less and less news, and we just couldn't move forward with our game plan.
"Since then, we've done 360° evaluations with two managers, adapting many of the same kinds of questions I answered. In the beginning there was apprehension. They thought they'd be criticized. So we made it into a learning experience. We kept the language upbeat, explaining to everyone that we were just looking for ways people could begin improving right away. We didn't want to overanalyze the results, just set some personal-development goals. It's been very good."
You don't need a fancy software program to get accurate results. Plenty of small companies have developed their own low-tech, paper-and-pencil 360° feedback systems and have achieved great results. Whether you're just starting out or you're perfecting your current system, consider these guidelines offered by Rim Yurkus and Diane Irvin, principals of LISten, a Denver-based training company that focuses on professional-development and multi-rater evaluations.
|Try This Exercise|
|Refer to LISten's checklist of skills and below. For each of those skills - leadership, management, supervision, and so on - you might brainstorm two or three well-defined characteristic behaviors of your internal champions. Ultimately, this will give you job descriptions that may be circulated for feedback. "There's always an unwritten job description - all the things that are never stated but that you finally absorb by being on the job for a few months," says Yurkus. "These expectations are at least now documented."|
|LISten's Checklist of Competencies/Behaviors|
Editor's note: The folks at LISten offer a variety of services and resources. They can help you start your own 360° feedback program from scratch or computerize your paper-and-pencil evaluation results, which will save you time and money. They can also help you focus your personal- and professional-development efforts. For a faxed copy of tips for successful 360° s, call LISten at 800-765-6186.
Copyright 1999 Open-Book Management Inc.