Getting the most out of 360 feedback

Guest blog post by Beth Steinberg. Beth has over 18 years of experience in organization development, talent strategy and leadership development. Her focus has been to help leaders and companies with complex organizational and growth issues. Beth focuses on driving useful employee programs, leadership coaching, executive development and organizational development.


 

Few concepts in psychology have been written about more uncritically and incorrectly than that of feedback.. . . Actually, feedback is only information, that is, data, and as such has no necessary consequences at all. – Latham & Locke

360 feedback has continued to gain popularity over the years.  Once a process used only for senior executives, new technologies, and transparent company cultures have propelled the process to include many levels of the organization.  While much of this change is positive, there are many things to think about when you embark upon a 360 feedback process for your team.

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Traditionally 360’s have been done for the following reasons:

  • To understand how the employee is viewed across an organization, including peers, key stakeholders and direct reports as part of a company feedback process.  It can also be used as “upward” feedback on a manager.
  • As an intervention designed to look at an employee’s performance when the manager has a concern that the employee is not performing well, does not align with the values and behaviors of the company, or to gather data on specific issue.  
  • To gather feedback to help the person succeed and develop in their career for development purposes.

During my career, I’ve observed many different reactions to the 360 process. Many times, I’ve seen 360’s go well, and watched the employee benefits from the process.  I’ve also seen the opposite.  Occasionally, I’ve seen total denial and a lack of trust in the feedback and the process, especially if it was used as an intervention, when the manager was looking for negative feedback.  The reaction has depended on why the 360 was being done, how it was delivered, and what happened after the feedback was given.   Continue reading

The Importance of Early Feedback for New Employees

To ensure that your processes in recruiting, onboarding and accelerating new team members into the organization is having the desired effect, it’s critical to get candid and data-driven feedback.

Giving and soliciting this type of feedback is the best way to ensure your investment in the employee experience is paying off and driving company ROI.

Recruitment and onboarding are key processes: get them right the first time and you save yourself the expense of repeating them a few months down the line. A study by the Aberdeen Group found that 86 percent of employees decide whether to stay or go within their first six months.

Read on to learn why early feedback supports new hire success and how to best implement an efficient and scalable process. Continue reading

5 Unique Ways Teams Benefit from Peer Recognition

Peer recognition is an extraordinarily powerful tool organizations of any size can benefit from. Whether you’re operating within a team of five or five thousand, each member deserves to be recognized for the contributions they’re making.

Although managerial recognition and feedback are crucial elements of a working relationship, there are some unique advantages to inviting the team to participate in building a culture of appreciation and recognition across the organization.

Here are a few of those benefits, and some tips on maximizing them: Continue reading

Start with Caring: HR Experts Share Powerful Manager Tips

Managers account for 70 percent of variance in employee engagement, according to a recent study by Gallup.  With so much riding on the success of our managers, we’ve kicked off conversations around the world to learn how we can help.

Our latest panel session in San Francisco, brought together HR leaders from Bay Area innovators such as Reddit, Pinterest and Disqus to share what they’ve done in their organizations to help managers grow. Read on for some of the key takeaways from this panel session!

What does a great manager look like?

Great managers come in all shapes in sizes. Whether introverted or extroverted, experienced or new to leadership, impactful managers share common traits that all begin with caring.

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They have empathy

Micaela McDonald is a people manager at Pinterest. She stressed that, “having empathy, really caring about people and being able to build trust is one of the most important aspects of being a great manager.”

They follow-through

“Follow-through is the biggest managerial trait that I find myself trying to teach,” said Kim Rohrer, Director of People Operations at Disqus. “You can have all the empathy in the world but if you don’t do anything with that empathy, you’ll lose the trust of your employees.”

Bob Lehto, an HR and Talent Acquisition leader, seconded that notion. He described how important accountability becomes in a managerial role. “You need trust in your team, but you also need a level of accountability and the ability to give feedback to course correct when necessary,” he said.

They match skill with function

Katelin Holloway is the VP of People and Culture at Reddit. She explained, “some of the best managers that I’ve worked with are really incredible matchmakers. Not just in terms of finding the right chemistry but also in being able to match skill sets. They have enough technical depth in the function they’re managing to match the appropriate people with the skills sets necessary to tackle the problems,” she said.

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How can HR support managers?

From training programs to resources, there are tons of ways that HR can help to support managers. While nobody has it perfect, there are places you can start. An initial training program, providing helpful resources and having individual “check-up” meetings with managers are excellent beginnings.

It all starts with listening

“Don’t fall in love with the solution, fall in love with the problem,” said Bob. “It all starts with listening. So often, we come into meetings with a hammer or saw. With experience, we get more tools in the toolbox that we can apply to a solution. But, first you need to truly listen to understand what the problems are.”

Don’t wait for managers to come to you

GA_SI_panel_discussion_May_2016_IMG_9154At Reddit, “HR does monthly one-on-ones with all of our managers. In that session, we cover things that we want to know about,” said Katelin. “We ask them, “who are your rock stars and who is struggling?” The initial manager training isn’t enough. The job of HR is to make the manager’s job easier and you can’t help if they don’t talk to you. The conversation will become healthier and more natural when you’re doing it frequently.” 

What makes a great one-on-one meeting?

There was a joint consensus that the most important aspect of a one-on-one meeting was ensuring that you’re actually having them. Other tips included being emotionally present, allowing the employee to drive the meeting and putting structure around the conversation.

Set dedicated time

“Dedicating thirty minutes to somebody every week and listening to what they say is extremely crucial,” said Micaela. “In those moments you can accomplish so much, identify any budding misalignment, connect with your report and let them know you’re there for them,” she said.

“Make it sacred time,” said Bob. “Anything else could move on my calendar with the exception of one-on-ones. It’s really about being present for them. Sometimes that means being there emotionally, sometimes it can be more tactical. Regardless you’re there to empower that person within a dedicated meeting time,” he said.

Provide structure

“When I started doing one-on-ones, I found that they either became very conversational or very tactical. I found it useful to have employees send me a simple, structured, email before our meeting. The email would answer a few questions such as: here’s where I need your help, here’s what I’ve accomplished this week, here’s what else I’d like to discuss,” said Katelin. It’s beneficial to provide a very basic framework, whatever that looks like within your organization, to make the conversation productive. 

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“I have a google doc of one-on-one feedback hacks. Along with a few basic questions to get the conversation started, it also includes a list of questions to “spice-up”
your meetings,” said Kim.  “It’s important to have an open space to talk about your challenges in a safe way. You’re not necessarily looking for a solution. In fact, sometimes you have to preface the meeting in saying, “I just need to vent now!” But being really clear about what you want to get out of each meeting will help drive the conversation in the right direction.”

If you could offer one tip for new managers, what would it be?

Bring the water

“Everybody dreams about being that person who people follow into the fire. Instead, be the person who has the water and smoke detectors. Start with follow-through and grow from there,” said Micaela.

Be curious

“Be curious. You don’t know what you don’t know. Often, your unconsciously incompetent. Eventually, you’ll reach that nirvana of being a great manager but, at the beginning, just be open and curious,” said Bob.

Manage expectations

“Remember this is not a popularity contest,” said Katelin. “Managing expectations will earn you the most trust in the long run. Don’t promise things you are unable to deliver and don’t feel like you need to have every answer in the moment. By managing expectations both emotionally and tactically, you’ll gain the trust of your employees.”

Want more tips? Check out the full panel session recording below!

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How to give and receive peer feedback – the startup way

Ongoing communications are vital for employee engagement and productive teams. We all know that without feedback, neither our peers nor we can learn and grow. Just an annual performance review feels like scarcely scheduled feedback overload. So how and how often should feedback be best provided? How much does company culture play a role? And how can we improve on requesting and being open to constructive feedback ourselves?

In an insightful and honest hangout, the SUPPORT OPS team discusses team member reviews. Below are some learnings with regards to feedback:

Buffer is famous for their radical transparency. Revenues, salaries, purchase history, it’s all public. They are now taking this a step further. Carolyn Kopprasch, Buffer’s Chief Happiness Officer shares how they are exploring Small Improvements in their quest for ‘transparent performance feedback’.  Continue reading

Performance Pain Points – The Prescription

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Previously, I played the part of PM-D…Performance Management Doctor (The Diagnosis). I talked about the symptoms of an unhealthy performance management process based on feedback from the Impact99 HR Summit Toronto. I had a closer look at the pain points that people described and realized that they, and the remedies, followed a path from start to finish.

Traditionally, most organizations fail to communicate the true purpose and expectations of the performance review process. Therefore, most employees consider it to be a negative experience; waiting to hear about how they have not achieved the expected level of performance. By default, most people see the process as merely a means to an end…that end being salary increases or promotions. What do you consider to be the purpose of the process? What are your expectations? Have you clearly communicated those expectations to your entire organization? If your people expect one thing but receive another, there is a disconnect that undermines the process.

So, let’s ask ourselves what connects people to the process? Is your process one that is typically pushed from the top down?  Even if it isn’t, is there a perception that it is?  For example, what  would your employees say if you asked them “who owns the performance process, who benefits from it and how?”  Would they see themselves in the process?  Would they see themselves as the owners, the drivers, the ultimate beneficiaries? If everyone takes ownership of the process – exec’s, HR, managers & employees – then it will cease to be a process that people “have to do” and will become something that people are motivated to do because it’s their own! It becomes part of the culture.

Transparency, reciprocal trust, collaboration and alignment result from ongoing discussions and will also draw people into the process. Discussions about the organizational vision results in productivity and pride in one’s work.  Communicating expectations assists in setting reasonable objectives. Someone who is enrolled in the business, who has clear objectives, and understands their contribution is someone who is eager to set their goals and measure their results in a performance review.  If the performance process relies on open discussions so that nobody is left in the dark, and there are no surprises at review meetings.

As I mentioned in Feedback: The Guidance System for Performancemore frequent performance check-ins are a much better use of time and effort than the traditional “year-end review” meeting. People perform on a daily basis, so why wait until the end of the year to discuss accomplishments and challenges. There’s no better time for improvement than the present. Organizations and individuals can become more agile by making small adjustments in their performance as they go along…not 10 months from now!

OK…you’ve just had your performance check-in with your manager. You’ve discussed your accomplishments, areas for improvement and set your objectives going forward. Now what? You have to keep them connected to the process; you need to follow-up. This shows integrity – aligning one’s actions with their words – and reinforces the trust you created through ongoing dialogue. If a need for more training was requested by the employee or manager, it would be a colossal fail if nothing was provided. If an employee has set an objective and doesn’t formalize it and provide updates…#fail again.

Expectations, ownership, discussions, check-ins and follow-up. Combine all these things and you have a process that is productive and meaningful. People within an organization want to know that their performance process actually means something, individually and for the bigger picture. Especially the younger generation. Organizations need to realize that this generation will expect meaningful work, which includes ongoing feedback and discussions. They will want to know how they are performing and how they can continue to perform at their highest level.

Wrap all this up in a simple process where individuals and teams are aligned with organizational goals, and people will be confident that they are part of something bigger. Best of all, you can elevate the level of overall engagement. A great performance process shows that the organization’s leaders actually care about their people. Recent studies (like the 2013 Spring report from Globoforce) have shown that leaders recognize engagement as one of the top challenges within their organization.

We are constantly looking for ways to improve the way we manage our performance. We look for new and innovative tools and methods to increase engagement and productivity. Sometimes the best thing for our organization is right under our noses. Try writing your own prescription.

Performance Pain Points – The diagnosis

11588728936_b627b5ec7a_cAlthough not recognized by any medical association, I’ll play the part of the PM-Dr… Performance Management Doctor.

A sampling of “patients” at Impact99 HR Summit 2013 Toronto described several symptoms of an ailing performance management process. There appears to be a deficiency of several important elements for a healthy process, such as results, expectations, meaning and consistency.

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Continue reading