Avoiding 'should' in 360

Posted on August 12, 2014 at 09:07 AM

In a 360 review, asking someone what their managers or co-worker should be doing is over-stepping the mark.

In our recent blog post we talked about there being four deadly mistakes when carrying out a 360 programme. We've explored two of those four mistakes in other blogs and now we look at what you are asking of your raters.

Some 360 degree feedback tools we've seen ask a person to rate not just how frequently an individual does something but also how frequently he or she thinks that person ‘should’ do it.

We see this as a deadly mistake because it introduces a judgemental element into the process.

Having individuals rate their work colleagues on what they ‘should’ do isn’t the purpose of 360 degree feedback. It blurs the lines between feedback, which is about information that’s helpful for an individual, and performance management which offers a judgement about their behaviour. It can be especially toxic when direct reports, who may not understand their manager’s role fully, are asked these questions - and this is likely to then build barriers in the 360 feedback discussion.

A better way forward is to create a ‘norm group’ of the required behaviours for each job grade. Some 360 degree tools enable you to do this - such as our own on-line Talent 360 tool.

Having doing this, anyone who aspires to a higher grade can then compare their own feedback against the norm group for that grade. This means they can quickly see where they’re already hitting the mark and where they need to up their game. They are then able to learn which specific behaviours they need to improve if they want to be a credible candidate for that role in the future. Their career is in their hands, so whether they ‘should’ change their behaviour or not, is up to them. If they do, it will be because they’re personally motivated to do so and not because they’ve been ‘criticised’ by a direct report who couldn’t possibly make that judgement.

Using comparative data can be a powerful way to help individuals understand how their behaviour standards relate to others and where they need to improve. It’s certainly more persuasive and more helpful than the judgement of others.

You can read the full article available as part of our We think... resources.

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