360 degree feedback, organizational trust, change & sustainability
360 in development - Part 2: Managing People with Numbers
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Thursday, 7 June 2007
No one has demonstrated that putting numbers on managers is a reliable way to improve performance – any more than grades can be relied on to bring out the best in students. What does work, however, is feedback. Put managers in touch with the reality of what is going on and they almost always improve - which is what the numbers were supposed to do, but don’t. Why not? Because numbers don’t represent the complexity of the real world sufficiently well and because managers will do their best to fiddle numbers, but will usually accept reality – even if with some initial confusion.

All right, I recant a little: sometimes in a really open environment managers handle the numbers well but conditions aren't always as good as you might imagine - and not for all the managers. And there still remains the problem of: "This is the rating I got - now what do I do?"

The 360 Facilitated® approach brings a manager back to their team to face the reality of its concerns - perhaps the ultimate way to bring about change. But that change does not always have to come from the manager. We expect change to happen in the team too, and often in the organization and its procedures and policies - the environment in which managers must operate. We help to create an atmosphere of openness and dialogue with the team by keeping the profile confidential to the manager. The manager is committed to talking about it, but at least the profile itself is theirs.

The 360 Facilitated® process succeeds in bringing real change and improvement quite independently of any manager appraisal process. If you want to link it the process to appraisal, you can’t use the manager’s profile. Why not? Simply because the profile is a product of team and manager in the context of the organization at a point in time, and the manager shouldn't be held accountable for all that.

Amusingly enough we have seen extremes of this in operation:

- the easy-going team that had little change to suggest because it didn’t want to rock the boat and upset the low performing manager

- the demanding team suggesting a lot of change to a high performing manager

- the team suggesting a lot of change to a manager for problems over which the manager had no control – organizational issues.

The link to appraisal therefore is not the profile, but the output - the actions that are agreed by all parties as a result. This is what the manager signs off on, and this can and should be part of the performance management process: “You looked at the real situation with the team, together you created action plans – now what’s the result?” If performance management is truly about getting results, then this is the result we should be measuring.

To be continued…

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posted by Dr Ron @ 10:24  
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