Talent Management – Does Your Organization Need 360-Degree feedback?

by Edward Henkler on July 29, 2014

Dr. Mark Spool is a pragmatic, results-oriented consultant with over 25 years of domestic and international experience in human resource development.  His company, Management Development Solutions, has a number of tools which they employ in talent management and succession planning.  He and I were discussing one of his core products, 360-Degree feedback.  Mark provides customized 360’s to mitigate some of the traditional challenges associated with respondents who are overly concerned with confidentiality.  In addition to the customization, he conducts personal interviews with a subset of the interviewers who are selected by the subject or their manager.  These one-on-one interviews enable him to tease out information which the respondent might be slow to “permanently enter” in a written record.  He also uses a 5 point scale and weighs the two lowest and two highest scores as relatively equal.  This is a bit different than the NPS (Net Promoter Score) approach which primarily focuses on the extremes (in this case the 1’s and 5’s).  Mark’s rationale resonated with me, a belief that biases, personal grudges and other factors could influence the score.  Keeping that in mind, he only sees the low and high scores as representing potential strengths and weaknesses, rather than their absolute severity.

Mark Spool

The next step in Mark’s process is to meet directly with the subject employee.  He does not believe in sharing the 360-Degree feedback with the supervisor directly.  Instead, he reviews the results with the employees, identifying strengths and weaknesses and potential strategies for each.  He then asks the employee to practice how they will verbally present the assessment to their manager.  The very nature of this process reinforces the learning while ensuring a cogent and positively-focused update to the manager.

Mark also suggests separating the performance and compensation discussions, which makes sense as compensation anxiety will typically dominate a combined session.  Since I always like to work Matthew Kelly’s “The Dream Manager” into the discussion, perhaps the 360-Degree feedback could also include an assessment of the employee’s strengths and weaknesses in realizing their dream?  Although the respondents may not get directly involved, the evaluator could certainly highlight strengths and weaknesses which will facilitate or impede achievement of the dream.

Providing feedback which helps an employee achieve their dream just might make them more receptive to feedback that helps them do their job better for you, their current employer.

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