A TIME FOR GIVING…FEEDBACK
Is it really a gift worthy of giving?
At this time of year, in the midst of our holiday preparations, we often think of gifts and gift giving. I, like the rest of you, have been carefully contemplating just what to get each special friend, neighbor and family member.
How many of you have ever given a gift to someone that they didn’t understand or appreciate? Any guesses where I’m heading? As we consider gifts, how many of you have given or received the gift of feedback? Most will agree that in our day-to-day lives, there is no shortage of feedback for us. We are surrounded by it. Most of us have participated in a 360-degree feedback process. But how many of you considered that feedback a gift?
We often tell folks that without that feedback you are flying blind. Nothing is more helpful and important when it comes to development than honest, candid and specific feedback.
Without it, do we have any idea what our strengths are? And how accurate are we at predicting our flaws? The truth is that we’re awful at predicting our flaws and our strengths. In fact, analysis of hundreds of thousands of 360-degree assessments tells us that we are about ½ as effective as others at predicting our own strengths and weaknesses. Wow, who knew?
Anonymous 360-degree feedback is one of the main cornerstones of a learning culture. But are all 360-degree assessments equally predictive and accurate?
The straight answer is no. Most don’t give the quality and quantity of data that when viewed through many different lenses are needed to provide a clear picture of performance. Not all are research-based and statistically valid and reliable. Most importantly, very few look at how leadership effectiveness actually drives organizational performance.
In my job, I have worked with many large corporations—specifically with those individuals involved in implementing feedback projects. I have had hundreds of conversations with them. In fact, for years I ran many of our largest clients’ projects. And I have had the opportunity to ask them, why Zenger Folkman? What stood out about our 360-degree assessment? Many believe like us, that our 360-degree assessment is the BEST. Here’s what they said:
- Research Base: Our 360 measures an individual’s ability in 16 competency areas. Based on the research outlined in The Extraordinary Leader book by Zenger and Folkman, the 16 competencies are those that differentiate the highest performing leaders (those in the 90th percentile) from their peers.
- Strengths Focus: We found that most 360-degree processes focused people on fixing weaknesses and gave the impression that being good was acceptable. Our research helped us understand that great leaders were defined by having a few profound strengths rather than an absence of weakness. Our goal in creating a 360-degree assessment was to facilitate leaders in identifying strengths that they could build on to become extraordinary.
- A New Scale: Most 360 assessments use an agree – disagree scale. After using agree – disagree scales for several years we started to notice the following: The average score on the following 5 point scale typically ranged between 3.7 and 4.3.
1. Strongly Disagree
5. Strongly Agree
This gives the data a false positive skew. Marking agree to an item gives the impression a person is doing well.
We developed an alternative scale to reduce the positive skew and provide more insight for leaders about their strengths and flaws.
Our new scale is as follows:
1. Needs Significant Improvement
2. Needs Some Improvement
5. Significant Strength
The new scale lowered the typical range to 3.3 from 3.9. This lowered the skew significantly. The new scale provides leaders with insight into whether a behavior is a strength, a competence or a weakness.
- Normative Comparisons: Our feedback reports compare leaders’ scores against the 90th and 75th percentile norm of the leaders in our extensive database. Most multi-rater assessments compare participants against the “average”. This sends the unintended message that the goal is to be better than average. The 90th percentile norm provides a much higher aspirational goal.
- A Decipherable Report Structure: Our data is displayed in an easily interpreted, user-friendly format which highlights individual strengths and reveals potential fatal flaws.
- An Employee Commitment Index: this measures the extent to which your
Direct Reports are satisfied and motivated to do their jobs. Our research shows a direct connection between leadership effectiveness and employee commitment. The results for each item are sorted from the most positive to the least positive.
- Importance Ranking section: This section displays the 16 Differentiating Competencies ranked from the most important to the least important. Raters are asked to choose four competencies that, if executed with a high level of skill and expertise would have the most significant impact on the participant’s job success.
- 10 Highest and 10 Lowest Scored Items are broken out for convenient review.
- Written Comments: Comments provided by respondents are displayed verbatim providing supplemental information to clarify the numeric data and provide other perspectives not addressed in the survey.
- Aggregate Reporting: We have the ability to generate aggregate reports benchmarking the entire organization against the database norms. The organization, as a whole, can use this data to develop organization-wide development strategies.
- Gap Reporting: The ability to compare previous scores from an earlier 360-degree assessment with current scores is provided. This is extremely helpful in gauging individual progress and updating existing development plans.
- The Best 360 on the Market: At the end of the day, our clients needed a 360-degree assessment that provided real, actionable feedback that could significantly improve the quality of leadership in the organization and ultimately provide better results. Without exception, our clients tell us that our 360-degree assessment is the best they’ve ever used.
If you are going to give a gift, give the BEST! When you think about it, feedback is a HUGE gift. It is worthy of giving or soliciting any time of year. It is a critical tool in effecting developmental change. That change can be transformational when two key elements are present: 1) The right assessment and 2) the all important facilitated delivery strategy (more on that another time). The beauty of the gift is that it keeps on giving. Once we accept that another’s perception of us is reality, and we quit trying to rationalize away our behavior, we can keep learning and evolving, changing and growing.
So this year when you see that brother-in-law that always annoys you, or that Mother-in-law that is too nosey, give them the gift—the gift of feedback.
Terry Robert — Senior Manager of Marketing