Phase – 3: Evaluation Phase
Train managers, raters, ratees, and coaches
Each of the steps above contributes to educating all employees about the purpose, content, and process of a 360-degree feedback process. You also need to ensure that people are properly trained. The more prepared people are to fulfil their roles, the more successful this process will be.
The training of managers, at all levels, includes an understanding of their role in this process. They need to be supportive. They need to be prepared to meet with their direct reports to discuss the results of the assessments. They need to become actively involved in providing mentoring and coaching, resources, and time needed for training, opportunities to capitalize on identified strengths, and eliminate or reduce organizational barriers that hinder top performance.
Raters need to know why they are completing the feedback instruments, how to properly complete the inventory, and why their honest feedback is needed. They also need to be assured that their individual responses (identity) will remain confidential. Of course, the responses of the ratee’s boss will not be confidential because there generally is only one person in this category.
The individuals receiving the feedback need to understand that they will be held accountable to developing an action plan and following through on the plan. They should be informed that the assessments will identify both strengths and soft spots. Training and coaching will be available as needed. They will also be responsible for meeting with their respective manager to discuss their reports and to reach agreement on their development plans. Those plans must then be discussed with their direct reports and others who may have completed inventories.
Coaches are often people from human resources, training, or organization development. Some organizations also train peers and others to be coaches. It is important that those selected to be coaches are competent themselves. They need to be taught good coaching skills. They must be active listeners.
Above all else, coaches must respect each person’s privacy and the confidentiality of the reports and information discussed during coaching sessions.
Selecting those who will complete the assessments is a process not to be taken lightly. In the case of a management survey, it is ideal to offer all direct reports the opportunity to complete the assessment. In some cases where a person’s span of control includes 20, 30, or more direct reports, the cost of including all people becomes prohibitive. In these cases, the recommendation is to include a minimum of four people or twenty-five percent of the possible contributors, whichever is greater. The larger the percentage, the more likely the data will reflect an accurate picture of the appraisee.
A few years ago 54 people, who were members of 13 different employment groups, completed assessments on a manager. The manager said, “I influence all of those people and I want and need feedback from all of them.”
Interestingly, all 54 people returned their inventories without any prodding. Were the results glowing in all cases? No. However, they did help identify areas where the manager needed to place more emphasis.
There are different methods for selecting contributors. First, a word of advice. Do not include someone who was recently disciplined or who is about to be dismissed. Their responses are likely to skew the data and may dilute the utility of the report.
When there are a number of possible contributors and you want feedback from six to eight people, have the target manager submit the names of ten people to his/her manager. The manager reviews the list, removes the names of people believed to be biased, and distributes surveys to the remaining people.
The same holds true for surveys of salespeople where customers are selected. Because the response rate from outside contributors tends to be lower, distribute twice as many inventories as you would like returned.
For example, at Skill Corporation, now S-B Power Tool Company, surveys were mailed to fifteen customers, per salesperson, in each of two categories. The process was so well managed that 64% of the customers returned the surveys, despite the absence of any incentive.
Prior to the surveys being mailed, the salespeople contacted each customer informed them of the nature of the survey, and asked them to complete the survey once received. The surveys were mailed in company envelopes along with a personalized letter to the customer from the Vice President of Sales.
Customers were given a specific deadline for returning the surveys. Also included was a postage-paid envelope addressed to us (an outside processing center). The Monday following the cut-off date, each salesperson was told how many surveys had been returned. Because the surveys were anonymous, the salespeople contacted each customer and asked for their cooperation in returning the completed surveys.
Another method is to ask for volunteers. A problem occurs when few or no people volunteer. This method is not recommended.
A third option involves the random selection of participants. A division of Eaton Corporation used such a process. We imported the names of all employees into a special computer program. Imported data included departments, reporting relationships, employee names, among other data for sorting. The program randomly generated the names of raters, printed cover letters, labels for surveys, and labels for mailing envelopes. Each rater also received a pre-addressed, postage-paid envelope to return the surveys to us for scoring.
Implement the process
There are logistical issues that have not been addressed, but, generally speaking, you should now be ready to implement the process. This includes ordering, labeling, and distributing surveys. The returned surveys need to be organized and scored. Follow up with people who have less than an acceptable rate of return.
There are many ways to provide feedback to the ratee. The most ideal approach is to have a coach meet one-on-one with each ratee to discuss their feedback and their responses to the feedback. Coaches need to help each person avoid making excuses or finding blame. Coaches should help individuals develop an initial action plan, which will be discussed with the individual’s manager. Sensitivity and confidentiality are important issues. Coaches may also need to work together with specific individuals and their managers to finalize action plans and prioritize developmental needs. Development plans and lists of priorities should be given to Human Resources and/or Training so training needs can be prioritized and initiated.
Track change over time
360-degree feedback is part of the process of developing employees and improving the effectiveness of the organization. It helps identify strengths that may be under-utilized, as well as soft spots or weaknesses that need strengthening. It also offers the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of training and other change initiatives. Conducting reassessments every one to two years allows you to objectively measure change, both positive and negative. It is a wonderful way to clearly communicate that the organization is serious about developing people and that employees will be held accountable for their development.
Instead using paper-pencil or the email based forms, it is definitely a great idea to automate the feedback process. Cloud-based solutions for this performance management tool optimises the time and efforts of the manager and department employees. Managing the whole process like the workflows, reporting topographies, creation of feedback forms, other necessary alerts & reminders becomes extremely easy. Number of meaningful inferences can be devised that can prove beneficial to the organizations.
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