360 degree feedback, organizational trust, change & sustainability
360 in development – Part 2: Managing by Numbers
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Friday, 26 June 2009
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 and denial.

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 some 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 we shouldn’t expect that change always must always come from the manager - anymore than the old downward appraisal always assumes that changes much come from the staff! There will usually be change in the team, as well as the manager, and often in the organisation and its procedures and policies – the environment in which managers and teams must operate.

With the aim of creating an atmosphere of openness and dialogue between team and manager, the 360 Facilitated® approach keeps the profile confidential to the manager. The manager is committed to talking about it with the team, but at least the profile itself is theirs.

The 360 Facilitated® process succeeds in bringing real change and improvement quite independently of there being any manager appraisal process or rating systems. If you want to link 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 fully accountable for all that.

Amusingly enough, in our work, we have seen extremes of this:
  • 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 you require to appraisal is therefore 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 @ 22:00  
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