360 Performance Evaluation Gone Bad!
You’ve referenced the importance of getting feedback in previous blogs and I couldn’t agree with you more. With that said, what about the manager who solicits feedback and then does nothing with it? Personally, I think that’s worse than not asking at all.
I’m a retired CEO, but my wife is still working and my question involves her company. A few months ago her manager emailed her staff and told them to complete an online 360-evaluation for her. The evaluation included both numerical responses and open-ended questions. My wife is a very authentic and honest person and I can tell you that she struggled for days over her responses to the open-ended questions. There was, and still is, a trust issue with her regarding her manager and she was afraid that there would be ramifications if she were completely honest in her answers.
Well, to make a long story short, I encouraged her to stay true to herself and be as honest as she could be and that’s exactly what she did. Of course that was 3 months ago. Since that time, her manager has said nothing, done nothing, and has never thanked her staff for participating nor brought up the 360-evaluation whatsoever. It’s as if it never happened.
As you might imagine, this has created some uncomfortableness around her office. My wife doesn’t feel it’s her responsibility to bring the topic up with her manager (especially given how honest she was in her responses) and none of her colleagues do either. What I can tell you is that she now feels that the evaluation was a complete waste of time and refuses to ever participate in anything like that again. And that trust issue she has for her supervisor…well, that’s at an all time low. So much for transparency.
Thanks for your question and backstory about your wife’s recent experience with feedback. And I agree with you that soliciting feedback without the intention of acknowledging it, addressing it, or responding to it, not only defeats the purpose but sends a contradictory message that could have a lasting negative impact across the organization.
In my opinion, there’s a right way and a wrong way to conduct a 360 performance evaluation. We already know the wrong way from your story above, so allow me to point out some of the keys to the right way, if you will. I’m also making the assumption here that all participant result sand comments are anonymous and this whole process is conducted confidentially.
Keys to 360-evaluations:
- Use an outside consultant/coach as part of the 360-process. This person should be involved from the onset and provide one-on-one coaching once the results are completed with each manager being evaluated.
- The 360-evaluation is not an end-all in itself. There’s a pre & post phase that’s as important as the results of the evaluation, if not more.
- Asking people in person (or over the phone) to complete a 360-evaluation is critical. Such a conversation also needs to include: 1) why the evaluation is being done, 2) a reassurance for honesty in responding, and 3) what follow-up will look like once the evaluation is completed.
- As soon as results are in, it’s important to acknowledge and thank all participants for taking the time to complete the evaluation.
- The next step is to review the scores and comments from the 360-evaluation with the coach. In doing so, both strengths and growth areas should be identified.
- A tentative list of 3-4 measurable goals and/or action steps should be created in the coaching session as well. However, it is imperative that additional input is solicited from all responders of the 360-evaluation (and of course the immediate supervisor of the manager in case they were not part of the evaluation) before these goals/action items are locked in. This way, responders will feel an investment in helping the manager succeed.
- Finally, a second 360-evaluation should be conducted with the manager and as many of the same responders as possible. This should occur anywhere from 6-months to a year later and helps solidify accountability and long-lasting results.
Hank, there are also some variations around the keys I described above, depending on the company, their size, and their culture, but you get the idea. Either way, utilizing the keys is paramount for a successful process and a far cry from what transpired with your wife’s manager.
Greg “Geese” Giesen
The Laughing Leader
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