5 Tips for Maximizing 360 Feedback ROI

360 Feedback ROI360 Feedback can be effective in assessing leaders on the main tasks for achieving business goals and objectives, exhibiting technical competence as well as developing and articulating a vision. However, the marketplace can be very confusing. Here are five factors to keep in mind for a robust ROI in executing 360 at your company:

  • Measure actual behaviors versus traits. For example, top performing leaders have “commitment.” But what’s the outcome of that quality? What do they Do with it? Behaviors, being action-orientated, are coachable and can be changed. Traits, on the other hand, are as part of one’s nature as eye color. They may or not influence behaviors and tend to be static.
  • Identify areas of development. A strengths-only based 360 is like giving every kid on the team a trophy. Instead, when one identifies behaviors that fall below the norm or gaps and blind spots leaders can grow and improve performance. Isn’t that what development is all about? The debrief should be done with heart (as well as backbone!) reframing “weaknesses” as key opportunities.
  • Opt for an on-line platform that allows participant and coach to filter data, focus on the primary results and formulate a plan. Otherwise, you’re going to get back a big ‘ol (60+ pages or more!) data-intensive report to analyze. The result is often a time-consuming, confusing process with hard to digest information that ends up at the bottom of a drawer. So, make certain you have a dynamic web-based tool to make perfect sense of all that data and where to go with it.
  • Provide executive summaries. When senior managers or HR is steering development initiatives it’s important they have a 37,000-foot view of the confidential results with highlights. Successful development relies on an internal feedback loop, so it’s critical that more senior or HR staff have enough information to be supportive throughout the participant’s leadership journey while maintaining confidentiality.
  • Get hands-on support. Design mistakes and “failure to connect the process” are both cited as common reasons for assessment failure. Don’t go it alone. Your provider should be a partner for a smooth implementation that ensures stakeholders respond promptly, makes participants feel comfortable (even excited!) and sees that action is the consequence of results. Professional project management will guarantee your organization has focus, goals, and strategy that make your investment worthwhile. Data is useless unless it’s managed and integrated into your company’s processes. And unless you provide 360 assessment for a living or have very extensive experience, it’s likely not your core competency.

360 Feedback can be a valuable tool in fostering HiPos (high potentials), modifying ineffective leader behaviors and leveraging strengths. Covering the finer points in selecting the right model and source will make your life easier as well as significantly increase odds of success!

Ann-Marie Heidingsfelder

Ann-Marie Heidingsfelder
Ann-Marie Heidingsfelder is Principal and Lead Business Consultant at Partner4Success, a Blanchard Channel Partner. Ann-Marie holds an MBA and a Boston College BA in Psychology. She received the International Coach Federation’s Associate Coaching Credential and is an ATD certified trainer. Ann-Marie is also published extensively in print and online and authored The 20 Minute Sales Coach: Improve Sales Performance & Increase Sales in as Little as 20 Minutes a Day. Before consulting, Ann Marie held senior leadership roles within the Fortune 500.

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Top 3 Inspirational Leadership TED Talks

InspirationAre you inspiring? You can determine this by how your employees behave. Are they snarky and try only to reach day’s end? Do they work slowly and always seem bored and irritated? Did you notice this attitude after you came to the office? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you might not be inspiring anyone. As a leader, you need to inspire your subordinates so that they can produce efficiently and effectively.

The Benefits of Inspiration

  • Inspiration makes people concentrate and work harder than they normally would. As a manager, you must look to tap into this inspiration to have your office function at a higher level and reach more goals, as evidenced by the Marina Malyavskaya study.
  • Inspiration makes subordinates feel confident, no matter the odds. While Napoleon was beside his men awaiting battle, his presence inspired the soldiers with such confidence, even though Napoleon’s soldiers were usually tens of thousands less in number than the enemy’s.
  • Inspiration increases creativity, which you’ll need to surpass difficult obstacles.

Below are a few TED Talks that will give you the inspiration you need to inspire your employees.

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

In this TED Talk, Simon Sinek talks about the reasons certain leaders are seen as more inspiring than others. The talk centers around the science of inspiration. Sinek, while citing Apple and Martin Luther King, Jr. as examples, says “People don’t buy ‘what’ you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it.” He speaks about politicians today who give “12-point plans” on what the problem is and how to fix it. They never explain to people why it must be done. Martin Luther King, Jr. never truly outlined a plan for equality, as Sinek alludes to in the video, but he spoke about the “why” of his need for equality – “I have a dream.” He firmly had this belief, the why, and others then subscribed to it. You need to have the fervent why to inspire those under you to be fervent workers.

Everyday Leadership

Inspiring your employees means being a leader at all times, not just in strenuous times. Drew Dudley believes that each moment you interact is a chance to be a great leader and inspire. He says that a leader should stop envisioning the large picture and examine each small act that leads to it. You’ll have no productivity if you don’t personally engage employees with small instances and nuanced actions, which inspire them to be highly effective. He inspires everyone to be a leader, even those who think they cannot be one.

The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding

John Wooden, the UCLA basketball coach who led the team to 10 NCAA championships, has coached some of basketball’s greatest players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. He is one of the most praised coaches in sports history, and was the first person inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and a coach. In John’s Ted talk he highlights the rules he lived by, how he chose to, and challenged others to, formulate thoughts which would result in success or redefine success. The most important was “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.” He talks about how you as a leader must also work at your best. When you do, you have no need to inspire your employees because your attitude, philosophy, and work ethic will inspire them.

If you desire to be a great leader, know that the more inspired you are, the more inspired your employees are and the harder they’ll work. The more success all of you gain, the more they’ll revere you, and you’ll be regarded as a greater leader. If you want more inspiration, consider watching these TED talks on leadership.

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Mapping out Employee Accountability

Employee AccountabilitySometimes promoting employee accountability can feel like you are spinning basketballs like the Harlem Globetrotters or juggling a set of clubs like a magician. Every workplace has its challenges and its accomplishments. In order to map out employee accountability everyone has to experience the same vision and understand their role in furthering that mission. There are key qualities you will need as the boss to help your team navigate their full potential. When they perform well you will all achieve.

  • Honesty: Expectations and directives have to be explicitly clear. Before you leave that teammate to get to it, make sure they fully understand and ask you some questions. If they are asking you questions that further the project, they understand you. Also make sure that everyone knows they can come to you for clarity. You need an open door with zero judgement for people to come to you for direction.
  • Integrity: Lead by example. That means that you too complete your tasks in the way that the team agreed on. While you are the boss you have to remember that you are part of a team and a good leader is also accountable to her people. If the project changes, send an email or call a meeting to discuss the changes. Treat your staff with respect.
  • Optimism: Recognition in small ways will make employees feel appreciated and needed. That in turn makes everyone feel happier, more creative and more patient. Everyone has moments where they shine. Send an email or write a small note letting that teammate know you noticed.
  • Patience: There will definitely be moments where an employee messes up, misunderstands or disregards a directive. These are the moments when you are needed most. Take the time to calmly discuss the problem, what led up to it and how all of you will keep it from happening again. This does not necessarily have to be a punitive moment. It can be a learning and growing moment.
  • Confidence: This quality ties into honesty because as the boss you have to make sure everyone is aware of how they are performing and how the team is doing on their project. It takes confidence to know that you will help them improve their weaknesses and continue to grow. You have to be the one who tells them how things are really going and lead the team to make the appropriate changes.
  • Humility: I know I just mentioned you need confidence right? You also need humility. You need to know and understand your employees and that means you have to listen. You need to understand how they would look at a problem in order to help them grow. You need to understand how they absorb new information and create a plan. The more you understand your employees the better you will all be.

You may think this is going to be easy, but it’s not, and that’s okay. You are leading a group of people who will make mistakes just like you. Be prepared to grow, to learn and to lead.

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Book Review: First, Break All the Rules

First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, by Gallup (2016). NY: Gallup Press.

First, Break All the Rules

First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

The first thing you should know is that this is a re-release of a bestseller from 1999. As far as I could tell, the only thing different was an update of metadata at the end. So, if you have a copy of the first edition on your bookshelf, unless you’re a data wonk, there’s no reason to buy the new edition. If you haven’t read this book, it’s a worthwhile read.

Essentially, this book is about how to be a good manager. It is chock full of data-driven conclusions. After interviewing a million employees and 80,000 managers, Gallup discovered that twelve items describe the health of a workplace. The first six are most important. They are:

  • I know what is expected of me at work.
  • I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  • At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development.

These items are positively linked to at least one of the four business outcomes: productivity, profitability, retention, and customer satisfaction, and most are linked to two or more. Employees who score high on the items are said to be engaged. Engagement is most closely linked to how satisfied the employee is with his or her immediate manager. People leave managers, not companies.

According to Gallup, the management role has four core activities. These are: select for talent, define the right outcomes, focus on strengths, and find the right fit for employees. Most of the book discusses these four core activities and how to excel at them. Discovering and working with people’s talents are at the heart of good management. The authors state that it’s more important to select for employees who have the right set of talents for the job than it is to select for either skills or knowledge. Both of these can be taught, but talents are inherent.

Gallup’s research describes 34 talent themes divided into four categories: executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking. If you buy the book, you can take the Clifton Strengthsfinder Assessment and the Q12 Employee Engagement Survey for free, and discover your individual strengths, at least as defined by Gallup.

It’s important to slot people into jobs that reflect their talents rather than their resumes. One of the most touching sections, for me, was about hotel housekeepers. Gallup asked hotels to identify their best housekeepers, and they interviewed these outstanding workers. Now, cleaning hotel rooms isn’t most people’s idea of a good time. In fact, it’s considered to be an entry-level job that most people will choose to leave as soon as possible. But, exemplary housekeepers love the job and often stay in it for their entire careers. When asked how they know if a room is clean, one said that the last thing they did before leaving a room was to lie on the guest’s bed and turn on the ceiling fan.


“Because,” they explained, “that is the first thing that a guest will do after a long day out. They will walk into the room, flop down on the bed and turn on the fan. If dust comes off the top of the fan, then no matter how sparkling clean the rest of the room was, the guest might think it was as dirty as the top of the fan.”

Sweet. Others talked about making a show for their guests. “Unless the guests object, we will take the toys that the children leave on the bed, and every day, we will make a little scene for them. We will put Pooh and Piglet on the pillows together. Pooh will have his arm in a chocolate candy box. Piglet will have his on the remote control. When the children come back, they imagine that all day long, Pooh and Piglet hung out on the bed, snacking and watching TV.”

These great housekeepers had talent. Seen through their filters, cleaning a hotel room wasn’t just another chore for them to complete. It was a world, a guest’s world. Making each guest’s world just right brought them strength and satisfaction.

In the mind of great managers, every role performed at excellence deserves respect. Every role has its own nobility.

I wish there had been more inspiring stories like this in the book. Instead, there were lots of sections based on data, for example: Rules of Thumb, How to Manage Around a Weakness, The Art of Tough Love. Maybe these sections will be exactly what you need to read, or maybe, like me, you will skim through them. I found that the last section, called “Turning the Keys: A Practical Guide” really made me sit up and take an interest. For me, this section was, well, practical. For example, the section on performance management was extremely helpful. Gallup found four characteristics common to the performance management routines of great managers.

First, the routine is simple. Great managers don’t want to spend their time trying to decipher alien terms and filling out bureaucratic forms. Instead, they prefer a simple format that allows them to focus on the employee’s difficult work.

Second, the routine forces frequent interaction between the manager and the employee. It is no good meeting once a year. More frequent meetings are essential in order to capture the specifics of an employee’s talents.

Third, the routine is focused on the future. The good manager discusses what could be rather than focusing on postmortems.

Last, the routine asks the employee to keep track of his or her own performance and learnings. The purpose of self-assessment is to serve as a counterpoint or comparison with the assessment of the manager.

After discussing the aspects of the routine, the book lists questions the manager can ask in the first interview with the employee. These include such things as: What did you enjoy most about your previous work experience? What do you think your strengths are? What are your goals for your current role? How often would you like to meet with me to discuss your progress?
I found these questions to be very useful. In addition, there are questions to use in the performance planning meetings as well as career discovery questions. Every manager, I believe, would find these helpful.

One thing I found annoying in the book was how it set up its ideas of the “rules” for management, and described how people who excelled at Gallup’s definition of management did things differently. For example, according to the “rules” they describe, traditional managers believe their job is to help a person overcome weaknesses rather than focusing on developing strengths. The managers I know do help their team members overcome their most glaring weaknesses, but they also help them identify their strengths. It’s not an “either-or” proposition. Maybe the rules—accepted wisdom–have changed in the seventeen years since the first release of this book. Even though it’s a bit dated, it’s still a thought-provoking book, and one that managers should know.

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Innovation and Risk-taking

InnovationYou don’t have to be an Angela Merkel or a Nikola Tesla to make a difference in your organization. Anybody who pays attention can see things that can be improved. Maybe it’s a work process that can be streamlined, or a new customer group that can be approached. Managers who are open to new ideas and are willing to take risks to make things better gain the respect of their team members, are more quickly promoted, and develop a reputation as “go to” people for the development of new ideas.

Leadership requires bold thinking. Not every innovation works out, of course, but failure to innovate creates stagnation, and stagnation leads to reduced market share and, ultimately, failure. So, it’s crucial that you support creative ideas and put them to work. Your enthusiasm for innovation and risk-taking encourages others to support your ideas and to help you implement them.

Risk-taking doesn’t come naturally to everybody. If you are a person who prefers a more stable, risk-averse situation, you will need to make an effort to change this attitude. The realities of work in the 21st century require that managers and leaders be innovators and risk-takers. The biggest reason that people are reluctant to take risks is fear of failure. The truth is that everybody fails. Everyone makes mistakes. Your challenge is to learn from your mistakes and not repeat them. Effective leaders choose to innovate and take risks, and they don’t allow their fear of failure to stop them.

If innovation and risk-taking are not your strong suits, here are some tips you might consider:

  • Take a personality inventory to determine your personal style. Understanding what holds you back from taking risks is your first step in changing.
  • Tell your manager that you are interested in taking more risks in your job. Garner support for this behavior, and get an idea of how far from the status quo you may stray and still be supported.
  • Decide one area for innovation that you want to champion. Break down the innovation into its component parts, and decide how far you can go before you will have to make a decision about whether your innovation is likely to succeed. You may find that, if you divide the innovation or risk into segments, each step is not so scary. And you will have the opportunity to make changes as you go along.
  • Ask your team members to come up with ideas for innovations that would improve their work processes. When they present the ideas to you, do not automatically say “no,” even if the ideas seem stupid to you. Instead, brainstorm with them to find improvements that are likely to be successful, and then support them as they implement the changes. You may find that your team members come to you more often with good ideas.
  • If thinking about taking risks at work is still too scary, consider areas in your personal life that could use some change. Maybe you’ve thought about taking up a new hobby, or you would like to alter your appearance in some way. Now is the time to make those changes, no matter how small. Risk-taking is a learned behavior, and you have to start somewhere. You may find that you actually enjoy it, and the ability to take informed risks can then successfully transfer to your work situation.

If you pay attention, you will notice that good ideas are everywhere. Effective managers and leaders aren’t always exceptional innovators or legendary risk-takers on their own, but they recognize good ideas when they see them and support those skills in others. If you encourage innovation and risk-taking in your team, everyone will benefit.

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