360 degree feedback, organizational trust, change & sustainability
Knowledge that's critical
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Tuesday, 31 July 2007
Any organisation has some knowledge that is critical - meaning knowledge that if it isn't known by those who are supposed to know it, then consequences follow. For example, a sales team that doesn't know all your products well will very likely... yes, that's right, sell the ones it knows! When workers don't know the machinery they are using, you may get accidents and errors. Managers who don't know the rules can land you in court!

All of these things, and many more, cost time, money and sometimes human life. What about the Brazilian pilot who left one lever not set and killed 200 people? And what about the manufacturer who allowed that as a possible error - it happened twice before in Brazil, without injury.

We are at all times, in everything we do, exposed to the degree and accuracy of the knowledge of others - and ourselves. Why leave it to chance? We know that the learning from training programs fades away rapidly - often falling to 10% in a few months! But you can keep knowledge alive and up to date. Simple checking staff's critical knowledge via repeated questionnaires will tell you who knows what, and give you the chance to correct the errors before someone does something that everyone will regret. To see an Internet system that does that in the simplest possible way, check this link:

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posted by Dr Ron @ 21:32   0 comments
Bank goes for green
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Monday, 30 July 2007
It's a real pleasure to see another initiative of the National Australia Bank in the area of sustainability (for previous see: Bank helps Make Poverty History). The nab says:

"NAB has purchased its first round of 'GreenPower' from Origin Energy as part of its commitment to being carbon neutral by 2010.

"The purchase will actively reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by about 5,500 tonnes, or the equivalent to taking more than 1,375 cars off the road, over the next 12 months. Annual purchases will take NAB to its 10 per cent green energy target by 2010."

GreenPower is a government-accredited program certifying renewable electricity products (including wind and solar generation).

National Australia Bank Group is committed to becoming carbon neutral. The NAB Australian businesses produce more than 90 per cent of the greenhouse gas footprint globally.

In Australia, initiatives include:

"Undertaking energy efficiency assessments and reducing energy use in our offices, 790 branches and 158 business banking centres, while also purchasing GreenPower for a portion of our power requirements.

"Delivering behavioural change to reduce the amount of energy NAB uses Australia-wide. NAB has set an internal target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%.
Purchasing hybrid vehicles for use in the NAB fleet.

"Offsetting CO2 emissions produced by vehicles and air travel by purchasing accredited carbon offsets."

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posted by Dr Ron @ 15:52   0 comments
McKinsey apes Dr Ron!
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Friday, 27 July 2007
No sooner do I write the previous posting (Can we demonstrate sustainability? No. 4 - Measuring success) than The McKinsey Quarterly [it's much more than quarterly] appears and says:
"Almost all large companies undertake a time-consuming strategic-planning process that leaves many executives frustrated with the results".


"Executives in the satisfied minority work for companies that go beyond budgets and financial targets to give the annual process a more important role in developing strategy".

It's surprising that McKinsey has to tell us that but it is good to know that there are companies out there think beyond budgets! McKinsey goes on to say:
"One approach is to start the exercise not by examining the numbers but by identifying the long-term issues facing the company."

An even bigger surprise! Long-term issues? Do you think they could be hinting at the next five, ten, fifty years - what might happen? - whether their enterprise (and the whole planet) would be sustainable?

It's just possible some companies are beginning to think like that. Well if they want a quick, sure and enjoyable (not at all frustrating!) way to do it, try Start-up Mega Planning!

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posted by Dr Ron @ 08:42   0 comments
Can we demonstrate sustainability? No. 4 - Measuring success
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Thursday, 26 July 2007
We've discussed the Ideal Vision, how it can be practical and how you can choose to contribute to a part of it while not contradicting any other part of it. All well, makes sense, but how do you make a profit?

The whole point of Mega Planning is to help you grow and earn by contributing to an Objective (perhaps more than one) you have selected at the Mega level. You have chosen this by locating a real need that will have to be met out there in the future, or maybe quite close in the present. You now work out what you will have achieved for your organization when you reach this target. This is where good conventional planning starts: We have earned so much, taken so much market share, launched so many new products, services... whatever. These are your Objectives, the measures of organisational success at the Macro level, and they should be spread as widely as possible to cover all significant areas of development.

In contrast to conventional planning, the Macro Objectives must nest within the Mega Objectives. To quote Roger Kaufman "A tobacco company can't have a Mega Plan" (unless maybe it's to go out of business as quickly as possible).

And we should also be aware that most companies don't even have a Macro plan, they just have a budget and some activities that they are used to, and the plan is to do more of them!
(to be continued).

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posted by Dr Ron @ 22:24   0 comments
Survey for Compliance
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Tuesday, 24 July 2007
In our increasingly litigious and regulated world, the fear of someone in an organization making a mistake is great indeed, can cost a fortune. One simple way to reduce the risk is simply to work out what people should know and then test them on it. Of course, there's a lot of corporate knowledge involved here, but it can be gathered, piece by piece and assembled in a simple questionnaire format for each group. When people know their part, they know what is necessary to be compliant with regulations that must be met. That takes away the worry, and when they don't know, you get the call to fill the knowledge gap.

This approach is known as Compliance Education and the tools required are simple and very accessible. For more information:

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posted by Dr Ron @ 22:07   0 comments
Can we ensure sustainability? No. 3 - Who's going to do it?
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Monday, 23 July 2007
If you recall parts 1 and 2 in this discussion, then you know that we can define a future that just about everyone will want in quite clear, simple and measurable ways. We call it an Ideal Vision - but it is practical and we accept that we won't get there tomorrow but will aim for it at all times in everything we do, use and provide.

Next we have to ask ourselves "What part of this future is our organization going to contribute?" Not all of it! But some part of it. And we will commit not to going against any other part of it. So we will be either positive or neutral - maybe not immediately, but we will at least know where the gaps are. These are the challenges. This is where we discern the opportunities of the future, and this is the level of planning Roger Kaufman calls Mega.

Does this mean we have to choose some huge global objective? Not at all. Just today I heard of a lady who has started Nine2Three, a recruitment agency in Sydney that finds jobs for part-time people who are often highly skilled and competent but not available full-time. Does that fit into an Ideal Vision? What do you think? I say yes. Does she have a Mega Plan? Not that I know of, but I'll send her this link, let's see if she likes the idea!

(to be continued)


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posted by Dr Ron @ 22:52   0 comments
Canadian feedback
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Sunday, 22 July 2007
It's good to see a note on the University of British Columbia website about their highly successful 360 feedback program. I quote:

"After some years of working with multi-rater feedback instruments (see article on personal experiences [PDF]), we have found an instrument that we believe adopts the best principles and the most simple language of all the tools we have come across. We have purchased the Canadian license for 360º Facilitated® from Leaderskill Group, a company in Australia who have introduced the instrument within university business program curricula.

"360° Facilitated (also known as Upward Feedback) is a multi-rater feedback instrument that is being introduced to UBC as a means to focus on how managers and their teams work together and take action to improve. It is based the ground-breaking leadership theories of J.M. Burns and a model developed by P. Farey [PDF] that examines the Leader/Manager dynamic of leadership."

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posted by Dr Ron @ 22:25   0 comments
Bank helps Make Poverty History
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Friday, 20 July 2007
National Australia Bank has given support to the Make Poverty History movement. It's very rewarding to see a major institution signal its concern in this way. The nab aleady has a good track record in supporting community initiatives, even offers microfinance to the disadvantaged - that's a great gesture.

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posted by Dr Ron @ 10:41   0 comments
Mega Planning for Sustainability and Profit
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Wednesday, 18 July 2007
Change is happening so fast that for an organization to be profitable and sustainable in the long-term it has to set objectives that contribute positively to the world of the future. The only thing you can count on your customers wanting is a better world. When an organization thinks this way, it opens up its opportunities – this is Mega Planning, the business imperative today.

When we say 'better world', we're not talking about vague, undefinable 'wouldn't it be nice!' stuff. We mean concrete clearly defined measures, and there are lots of them: get rid of disease, accidents, war... That's quite clear and it's just a start. So the first point is:

  • Anything an organization does today creates the future in which it must operate tomorrow. Its very survival will depend on society wanting its products – meaning the contribution it makes to the societal life-support system within which it exists
  • Tomorrow's child must live in the world we create, so let us aim at creating the one that we all want
  • Mega Planning isn't just for you (obviously), it brings you into partnership with your clients, it shows you the untapped opportunities of the future and ensures that both you and your clients are ahead of the field, offering them much more than just the ‘initially stated requirements’
  • Mega Planning gets people excited about what the organisation is doing and engenders their loyalty. It promotes a change of perspective and culture, an understanding and realisation in the workforce that they are contributing to their future
  • It's only by working from a Mega framework that we can actually define our societal contribution and then prove and justify it on a continuing basis while maintaining profitability. We are not talking about contributions that depend on the bottom line or on political fluctuations and fashions. This is not 'greenwash', but demonstrably the real thing.
  • The benefits and savings far outweigh costs. Reduction of waste, benefits from new opportunities, avoidance of compliance issues, greater employee loyalty and contribution... By using Cost/Consequence analysis you easily justify the use of the Mega Planning process.
  • Mega Planning is the creation of Roger Kaufman, Professor Emeritus of Florida State University and is part of his Organizational Elements Model, a planning methodology that aligns the Mega, Macro and Micro levels of planning as the means to selecting Processes (what you do) and Inputs (your resources, people, knowledge, finances...). Over nearly 40 years, this approach has been used on five continents. In Australia, Mega Planning has had wide impact in the Public Service – notably in Defence and in the APSC – and in some private sector organizations.
  • Leaderskill has developed a fast and easy approach suited to organisations of any size that want to think sustainability: Start-up Mega Planning. For a published case history see:


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posted by Dr Ron @ 23:45   0 comments
The Appreciative Inquiry Profile
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Monday, 16 July 2007
Years ago I was called in by an organisation (name deleted to protect the guilty) to find out what was wrong with the low performing team of one of their managers. Facilitating the team's ideas and feelings I quickly found out that they wanted to do lots more but the manager wasn't listening. In his drive to play boss, he completely overlooked everything they did or wanted to contribute. Once we got him to appreciate his team, the whole situation changed - performance rose sharply.

The dominant philosophy that runs our organisations today is one of finding out what's wrong. It changes people significantly when we tell them what's right! This is the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) approach which has shown dramatic results for organisational change worldwide. Today, it forms part of everything Leaderskill Group does. However, we created a special profile - AtMyBest - to focus specifically on this approach. It is used by coaches wanting something extra for their clients.

We are so keen on this profile that we offer it at a nominal fee as we build up some data on its success. Try it!

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posted by Dr Ron @ 18:06   0 comments
And saving paper...
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Sunday, 15 July 2007
Part of the 360 Facilitated® process is use of the highly readable Leader/Manager Guide that takes you through the whole process of interpreting your profile and suggesting the meaning you might glean from each element. It's very well laid out. If you look at the first Practice in People Leadership - Leading by example - it tells you what it is, the Outcome you're looking for, what it means, why you would do it, what you could do if people are asking for more, and what you could do if people are asking for less. [Of course the 360 Facilitated is not a "strong/weak" assessment, it asks for useful feedback on what people want from you: Do you want more or less?].

This complete guide (130 pp) is on line with interactive links and available to the manager - and it has been for years, saving quite a bit of paper.

I will take up the L/M Guide in more detail in the future.

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posted by Dr Ron @ 11:21   0 comments
Desal for Sydney?
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Friday, 13 July 2007
To see a really neat expose of New South Wales' Desalination plant, take a look at The Leader website where it hangs out naked for all to see. Some really astounding info:

  • Sydney (Australia) has the highest annual rainfall of all the state capitals

  • Sydney needs, instead, improved stormwater capture, water-conserving efficiencies and water recycling

  • Location of the plant at Kurnell is ridiculous - all the water is to go to Sydney's eastern suburbs - ripping a huge trench across Botany Bay en route plus various suburbs.

The government announced it on 11 July 2005, saying that it had been 'researching' it for 6 months - without asking any of the experts, all of whom are against it. Then of course they promised they would do it "only if the dams fall to 30%", but since the dams didn't, they started anyway in dead of night. The dams are now up to 55% but the devastation of the Birthplace of Modern Australia (Captain Cook's landing) goes right ahead.

After the launch, the Premier was shown in Dubai (where they do need a desal plant!) drinking a glass of desal! There's more, much more. Read it all at The Leader. It's worth it. And look for a petition soon.

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posted by Dr Ron @ 22:50   0 comments
Still using paper?
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Thursday, 12 July 2007
It's true, some people are still using paper! Despite the palms and all the rest of it, a lot of people have to run surveys and 360 feedback where someone or no one has Internet access/ability. Having started with paper 360s in 1993 we were used to handling them and didn't want to give up - not when people were saying "Look, we have this bloke out in the sticks who can't get to a computer - can he mail it in? Yes, I know, the whole survey is online but this guy..."

Sure, send it in, as many as you want. "Will it slow things down? I heard of a company overseas that took three months to return the data when they used paper". No, not at all, we take paper in our stride at 360 Facilitated.

And so it is. We're tops for customer service - as well as having the Leader/Manager Model (and any other survey you want).

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posted by Dr Ron @ 22:22   0 comments
A truly Balanced Scorecard
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Wednesday, 11 July 2007
The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) has been a great step forward for companies that thought success was focusing just on the bottom line. Norton and Kaplan said that Financials are fine but we must also think about Customer Satisfaction, and what about our Internal Business Processes, and what about Learning and Growth? Setting up a dashboard of indicators allowed organisations to derive a Vision and Strategy as its centrepiece. They could then have a better knowledge of where they were really going, and could respond more effectively to change in the market.

But for the BSC, direction is really about making the company successful in the short-term. Because it doesn't think about the organisation's impact on society and the environment, it can't take into account the changes that will be forced upon it, nor the opportunities that lie in change. Roger Kaufman (Prof. Emeritus) suggested to me that I should update the BSC to present day realities and call it the BSC+ (in line with his Strategic Planning Plus and his TQM+). So I did and the ASTD website published the article (as a response to an article on Human Performance Improvement or HPI). I also tied it in with the whole process of feedback that would align the organisation.

Since the BSC is still used effectively by many, why not consider the BSC+, well suited for the Sustainability planning that is starting to change the direction of the more enlightened companies today.

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posted by Dr Ron @ 23:16   0 comments
Emotional Intelligence at Work
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Tuesday, 10 July 2007
It will be apparent to anyone familiar with the Leader/Manager Model that it contains within it the key concepts of Emotional Intelligence (EI). As a holistic framework, it included them from the start. However, over the years, people started waking up to the fact that emotions have a big impact on the work environment.

There was much argument about what EI really was and how you could measure it. Daniel Goleman popularised the concept and continued without paying too much attention to the doubters and I'm glad he did. He certainly got it on the agenda (you could call him the Al Gore of EI - or perhaps the other way round!) We researched our own data gathered over years and found a cluster of EI type behaviours that hang together, and from them created the Emotional Intelligence Behaviours - in other words, the things that a manager might do in relation to their team and others that have emotional content.

We added into the profile pages that would specifically point at these items and indicate where they were different from the profile in general. This information became very useful for managers at the Debriefing session.

Interestingly enough, research shows that the EI behaviours on average are not different from the rest. But when they are - either as pointers for change or for keepint it 'as is' - they are very significant and very helpful in coaching.

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posted by Dr Ron @ 18:17   0 comments
Best Practice a shared vision?
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Monday, 9 July 2007
It's always good to see old truths recognised. Otherwise perhaps they just get forgotten. Then we have to start over again and discover them and persuade everyone... Well, the old truth is that "managers not only need to coach their staff and set clear goals, they also need to inspire and motivate them" (in Personnel Today). They even add that "360-degree feedback analysis reveals manager shortcomings" which is probably true the way most organisations do it - looking for problems (and what do you get when you look for problems? Well, more problems! Dictum of Appreciative Inquiry - AI).

We would rather that 360-degree feedback analysis revealed manager opportunities, got them all feeling great and ready to do their best, and pointed by the people they lead towards the priority directions to take.

They go on to say that "Best practice management is not just about giving people the practical tools to do the job - they need to buy in to a shared vision, so it is worrying that managers seem overly focused on their business objectives at the expense of people management.

Hear hear! And they add "Research by the Chartered Management Institute found that less than four in 10 individuals see the management and leadership characteristics they are looking for in the workplace. These included: 'genuine shared vision' (79%) 'real confidence and trust in teams' (77%) and 'respect for employees, colleagues and customers' (73%). It is the relationship between people that results in actions.

"If managers fail to show trust, respect and appreciation for their teams, it will have a negative impact on productivity, no matter how well they are able to delegate.

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posted by Dr Ron @ 23:08   0 comments
Live Earth lives
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Saturday, 7 July 2007
Live Earth concert kicked off today in Sydney and Tokyo. No matter what you think about its carbon footprint, it will have its impact on us all. We are waking up, getting together. We may have to spend a little on this at first.

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posted by Dr Ron @ 00:07   0 comments
Trust in trust
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Friday, 6 July 2007
Sometimes you get the chance to read a great book before anyone else (almost). It's called The Truth about Trust in Business. It takes trust apart, shows you what it actually is, the part it plays in the organisation, how it impacts a company when it fails, how it matters to you as an employee, a Director - even a customer :)! It also shows you how you can maintain trust, and sometimes rebuild it. Vanessa Hall, the author and editor is clear direct, talks straight to you and gets through every time. The specialist authors who support her with areas such as Leadership and Marketing are concise, fit in perfectly with Vanessa's Trust Model, and give excellent suggestions for maintaining and restoring trust. Vanessa's chapter on Governance is just so readable - you'd never expect it!

So wait for it, maybe in August??? Soon, worth waiting for. In fact start looking now! No, I'll let you know when, I want everyone to read it.

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posted by Dr Ron @ 23:22   0 comments
Everest melting
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Thursday, 5 July 2007
The calculated disinformation system that produced the UK Channel 4 film The Great Global Warming Swindle may have influenced many uninformed people that climate change isn't happening, but hasn't made any impact on Mount Everest. The sons of Hilary and Tenzing (first to climb) say that "the mountain is now so ravaged by climate change that they would no longer recognise it".

The horrors are that the Sherpas could be washed away by lakes on the mountain bursting, and that drought will affect the millions who rely on glacial water year round. Estimates are that Everest could be all melted by 2050.

About half the people surveyed in the UK either didn't know about climate change or thought it was still a point of contention between scientists! Oh well, there are still people saying smoking is OK - so that's a point of contention too. And of course the pro-tobacco propaganda was run in the much the same way, so not too surprising when there are energy interests at stake.

In fairness, not all the 'deniers' are propelled by the energy lobby. There are some genuine ones who don't understand probability theory and think that science is either black or white, on or off. Not so, it's about probability - if the likelihood that the plane will crash is not very close to zero, I'm not flying, are you? Same with the planet. Except that in this case the consequences are much greater and the liklihood is very high. There are also a few mavericks who really enjoy being different and don't think much about the risks they are running by confusing the issue.

Meanwhile the predicted severe climate conditions are affecting UK and Europe... and people are buying more gadgets that never switch off (like TVs, they're on standby) requiring more electricity to run.

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posted by Dr Ron @ 08:43   0 comments
Training for 360
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Wednesday, 4 July 2007
The best results from 360 programs come from those where they trained HR staff in advance to help the managers deal with the feedback, and the respondents to give it.

"Introducing 360-degree appraisals is not just about choosing the right package - HR must invest time and effort in identifying and training the right people to run it, says Kirstie Redford [see Personnel Today]. Training internal assessors is essential to success: it will help them get to grips with data interpretation and show them the most productive way to deliver feedback. It will also save money, as using external facilitators is costly.

"Systems can be complex, so any deal with 360-degree appraisal providers should include adequate training for relevant internal staff in how to understand the report structure and analyse data. Such training is usually done in classroom-based sessions.

"But the real challenge is delivering feedback and helping those being assessed to create a development plan.
Hearing you are a bad manager for the first time can be psychologically traumatic unless the person giving the feedback is skilled in helping you through, says Charles Jones, head of coaching at HR consultancy Right Management. If you are giving negative feedback to someone, you need to be clear on what you can do to help and signpost them to appropriate training".

Comment: there's a lot to be said for NOT telling a manager that s/he is 'bad'. Much more productive (less defensive) to stick with feedback about what they should do, avoiding the goods and bads. But realistically, managers can get defensive when they receive a lot of 'do more' or 'do less', and everything they say in this article makes sense.

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posted by Dr Ron @ 18:33   0 comments
Feedback with no feedback?
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Tuesday, 3 July 2007
When you run a survey for Executive MBA students, it's not surprising to find one or two people who for one reason or another can't meet the minimum numbers for either staff or peers/associates (3 to give averaged data). The 360 Facilitated® team move mountains to get them a profile anyway - we add staff to peers or vice versa to get up to 3 or more in a category.

But in some cases it still doesn't add up to 3. Now, we are able to run a profile with 2 respondents but ONLY if the respondents themselves contact us directly to ask for that - they know that their feedback really won't be anonymous and as a result it may not be very helpful. But at times it can be done.

The alternative is what we call a mini-profile, it has just the self-feedback, and perhaps a boss or two, and provides enough for the student to take a meaningful part in the debriefing class.

Are there other uses for this profile? Yes there are, sometimes a whole group of managers want to put a toe in the water and get to know the Leader/Manager model. Then they can run a stat profile and see the needs of the group as perceived by the managers themselves. It can be a soft lead-in to a program.

Our Self-profile has turned out to be helpful to coaches who ask their clients to consider the whole gamut of Leader/Manager behaviours and suggest their own areas for change. Don't imagine that it's as accurate as upward feedback! But still it's a useful starting point – especially for an organization not willing to try feedback. It is also the one profile that the Participants are welcome to print out themselves – after all, the results are not exactly news to them!

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posted by Dr Ron @ 17:40   0 comments
Interpersonal Neurobiology at Work
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Monday, 2 July 2007
Interpersonal what!? That's OK, it's just about how your brain responds to their brain (physically) and we get sucked in by all the stuff going on around. And it's about what you can do to get out of the loop. It works at work and works for you.

While citizens of the World can buy Richard Hill's book How the 'Real World' is Driving You Crazy, dwellers in Sydney Australia are fortunate to have the man himself making two presentations this month:

International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI, Sydney Chapter) at 5.30pm Tues 24th July, and at:

A workshop "Creating the Mind for Success" on Sat 28th July.

"I am delighted with this remarkably clear and profound book... Pioneering thinkers and healers of Australia and the world will place it on their Top Ten list". Ernest Rossi PhD, author of A Discourse with Our Genes.

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posted by Dr Ron @ 22:29   0 comments
360 feedback - Q&A - No. 5: Outcomes
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Sunday, 1 July 2007

Q: What really are the outcomes you can expect from running a 360 Facilitated team session?

A: The one that everybody expects is of course that the manager changes: "I have to change this, learn that, develop... and so on".

But this is not necessarily the case. In many situations, it is the team that has to change: "We realize now that it's up to us, we have to... Or we are now given the authority to..."

Or it may well be that perceptions and expectations have to change: "It's not what I/we thought. Or s/he is doing these things but didn't tell us". Of course sometimes, the change in expectations then leads to a change in team or manager.

Lastly, it is often the organization that must change. The manager may be carrying the can for ineffective policies and procedures that have to change.

The great plus here is the precise information that 360 Facilitated produces for manager, team, and management. It is a great catalyst for major change in teams, and in organization and climate.

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posted by Dr Ron @ 23:12   0 comments
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