360 degree feedback, organizational trust, change & sustainability
Goldsmith coaches
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Thursday, 9 August 2007
Coaching has become a valued art. There are some good ones around, one of them is the renowned Marshall Goldsmith (see previous: Buddhist in the boardroom). About his own approach he writes that he and his team work at all levels of management and find the same range of stubborness/open minded everywhere. He says:

"First, I solicit 360 degree feedback from my client’s colleagues – as many as can provide valid information – from up, down and sideways in the chain of command, often including family members – for a comprehensive assessment of their strengths, challenges and opportunities". Probably referring to family members at board level in large organizations but they can also be found in SMEs. At lower levels, many organizations have rules against family, and the same even happens at the top of large ones (remember the mess that World Bank got into!). Most of the time, you won't have this problem/advantage.

Goldsmith continues "I then let my clients know (in a way that protects the confidentiality of the interviewees) what everybody really thinks about them. Assuming that they accept this information, agree that they have something to improve and commit to changing behavior, I go to work and try to help them get better – at what they have chosen – and as judged by whom they have chosen." That's a pretty good way to approach it. There are also some conditions worth considering - (1) Can you be sure to ask the questions that are most relevant? (2) Does the client choose the people who have most to tell them? (3) Even though you sit down with each Respondent and interview them, one at a time, how clearly will you understand the feedback, since you're not the client? and (4) What will you miss if you don't let the Respondents talk it over with one another and clarify their thinking?

Goldsmith goes on to say that his clients learn to say 'sorry' to those around them and to tell everyone openly that they are engaged in a process of change - a kind of "watch me, appreciate how I change" attitude. He also teaches them to listen without interrupting or defending, and to say thank you. And to walk around listening to suggestions.

He gets results, showing that "leaders that follow-up in a disciplined way get better, those that don’t follow-up are not seen as changing any more than random chance."

Finally, he teaches clients the value of 'feedforward' - how they can get information to improve in the future.

It's great news to see his approach so widely successful. There is a clear values base underlying this and, as you probably know, we have advocated these values and operated this way for three decades. So we support it wherever it appears. And if you want to look at another way of implementing 360 feedback, check:

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posted by Dr Ron @ 21:23  
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