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As 360 feedback systems and processes becomes more mainstream, many HR Consultancies struggle with the issue of how and when to add it to the "toolkit" that they offer to their clients. In this article we will consider these issues by examining four areas where the use of 360 Feedback is gaining momentum with consultancies.
Leadership & Management Development There is no single paradigm that defines leadership for organisations (otherwise many of us would be out of job). Although different expert and academic sources will argue over the merits of one model of leadeship or another, there is generally common agreement that leadership is situational. There is however also fairly common agreement upon the basic competencies and best practices that comprise leadership and management. The issue is how best to translate best practice in any particular organisation.
360 Feedback enables an organisation to define the situational model of leadership by taking the standard competencies and defining behaviours for them that are specific to the culture within the company. In this way detailed, relevant feedback can be obtained at both an individual and organisational level. It is a great starting point to any intervention or programme for development because it provides specific and relevant feedback to individuals so that they can more effectively focus their development.
It also provides normative data for HR professionals within organisations to assist in defining and budgeting for training needs together with providing an ongoing tool for monitoring overall progress.
One of the classic problems for any ethical organisation is that of separating out the ever increasing burden of "forced" leadership, in terms of corporate governance, state legislation, financial services monitoring etc from the "freedom to breathe" that will allow them to innovate, create and overcome competition in their market. This in turn can often lead to frustration and conflict in executive meetings. To make matters worse many directors of companies are unclear as to their legal responsibility. Most companies overcome this by separating executive and director meetings.
Director roles are fairly well defined and homogenous and, apart from different national legislative differences, can be easily monitored via a standard set of competences and behavours (the big mistake that many companies make is that they do not actually separate and monitor directorial behaviours from executive behaviours). Executive leadership is situational and while the competencies may the same from one company to the next, the behaviours will vary significantly.
HR consultants who recognise these issues can provide more appropriate interventions by including both generic Board Competence frameworks together with customisable Executive and Management frameworks that can be configured to obtain the best possible feedback for their clients.
The use of 360 Feedback tools for individual coaching and mentoring is one of the fastest growing areas of 360 use. Coaching is a formidable form of intervention to assist individuals to articulate and focus on what is important to their personal and career development and then support them to achieve the goals they set over a period of time.
360 Feedback can be used at three points within a coaching/mentoring intervention.
We have already seen how 360 feedback software is used to add value at both an organisational and individual level. By using a subtle variation on the terminology for feedback providers it can also be extremely useful as a catalyst in Team Development Programmes.
We have recently had two experiences relayed to us where consultants have successfully used 360 degree feedback form as an intervention tool to "get a prospect off the fence". One specific example from quite a large consultancy is of a prospectively large piece of development work that had put out for tender. The consultancy went through the loopholes of meeting with the client on several occasions. It became apparent to our client that the although the budget was there, the potential client did not have clear understanding or agreement of the what they really needed.
After several months and no real movement (so nothing new there then?), they decided to risk a short (in this case loss leading) 360 Feedback exercise with the board and executive team to obtain some metrics on current performance. By highlighting common areas of development need within the board they managed to overcome the inertia and uncertainty that had been prevailing for months. The total exercise cost them in the region of £500 and a days consultancy, for which they have to date booked in excess of £25,000 in development fees.