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Archive for May, 2009

The 360 Review, if managed properly, is one of the most powerful diagnostic tools for a manager’s professional development and for upgrading management practices in general.
The question is how to establish credibility and trust in the process. Here are some tips based on our years of experience in successfully conducting 360s:

  • DON’T link the reviews to performance evaluations and therefore dollars. You’ll damage the integrity of the process.
  • Build the rationale entirely around professional development.
  • Emphasize the need for the individual’s responsibility to work with the findings and the availability of resources to support these efforts.
  • Use external consultants to assure reviewers and reviewees of independence and confidentiality.
  • Communicate effectively. Tell the reviewees why you’re doing it, the process, the respect for anonymity and the opportunity to learn.
  • Give sound guidelines to the reviewers, indicating the need for objective and constructive feedback.
  • Ensure the review instrument is designed to address management style issues specifically relevant to your organization and culture.
  • Address the major issue of who gets the results. In some organizations, it’s only the reviewee. In others, higher levels of management and HR also get the results. (PSG takes a middle course. We believe there is mutual accountability and recommend the reviewee’s manager receives a one-page summary of results by competency category with relevant themes and is accountable for managing the direct report/reviewee through his or her professional development needs.)
  • Make sure feedback is prompt and preferably given through an independent coach, typically from the consultants conducting the 360s.
  • Ensure the reviewee provides the manager with a summary of plans to address issues raised for discussion about the “how.”
  • Ensure you get a consolidated report by line item to identify training needs of your organization.
  • Ensure that 360s are conducted for coaching assignments. The perceptions of the coachee are precisely the wrong way to go! The whole point is what others think!

Follow these tips and with our help, if you need it, you’ll be well on the way to a successful 360o review process.

Why do managers forget to give the positive feedback that motivates their direct reports and gives the necessary encouragement to stay motivated? They’re busy, pre-occupied, but mostly, they just take things for granted — it’s part of the job; it’s expected. However, people like to know where they stand, like to know that when they make the effort or think of something creative, it is appreciated.

Here are some questions to think about, which may help managers recognize when and how to respond:

  • When someone does something special or beyond the call of duty, is there a special thank you or something special like dinner-for-two or tickets to a ballgame or even a weekend away?
  • When someone works night and day to get a report done or an assignment completed, do you simply nod and ask him to leave it on your desk?
  • When you’ve coached someone on a particular behavior or talk, and she does it right or almost gets it right, do you reinforce the behavior with words of encouragement?
  • Do you wait until the end of the project to tell someone that he’s done it well or do you provide ongoing positive feedback to keep him motivated?
  • When someone simply does what she’s meant to do, do you say anything?
  • Or when you praise someone for something done well, do you also pick on some minor issue that really doesn’t matter?

And a few reminders:

  •  Even a small “thank you” goes a long way.
  • When giving praise, make it specific and make it related to the impact of a specific action or behavior and not a throwaway generalization.
  • Keep praise in proportion to the action or behavior. Don’t give phony praise. Your sincerity becomes dubious.
  • Don’t overdo the praise for an individual in front of team members.
  • And, finally, give praise throughout the year. Don’t wait for the annual performance review!

In recognizing the significance of emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman’s pioneering work, Working with Emotional Intelligence, has spawned an industry of consultants and coaches. This is appropriate! Research has shown that productivity and performance increase dramatically in control groups where managers or front line supervisors are trained in emotional intelligence skills.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect is that the skills and behaviors required to demonstrate EI are not rocket science. They are pragmatic, common-sense concepts that are easily understood and easy to implement. In fact, Goleman emphasizes that these behaviors require practice and continue to improve as they become an integral part of the way people manage relationships both in the workplace and in their personal lives.

The essential EI skills are as follows: self-awareness, empathy, self-regulation, social skills and social awareness. Recognizing the impact of one’s emotions, moods and actions on others, thinking first to avoid one’s natural (and often justifiable) response, and the ability to empathize by putting oneself in another’s shoes are the essence of emotional intelligence.

The applications for these skills are numerous. Managers coaching their direct reports or confronting poor performance have ample opportunity for constructive use of EI. Team members work more effectively together when utilizing EI skills. Call center representatives or receivables collection clerks are significantly more effective when demonstrating higher levels of EI. And, as Goleman, points out, great leaders exhibit high levels of emotional intelligence.

If your leaders are unaware of the need for EI, you will make a valuable contribution by bringing it to their attention.

PSG recently conducted a training program at a Supervisors Conference in Cromwell, CT, held by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA). After attending the program, Dilza Hawkins of Laticrete International commented: “Thank you for a wonderful seminar. The examples and topics clearly illustrate real and everyday situations that so often have negative outcomes simply through lack of EI.”

In recognizing the significance of emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman’s pioneering work, Working with Emotional Intelligence, has spawned an industry of consultants and coaches. This is appropriate! Research has shown that productivity and performance increase dramatically in control groups where managers or front line supervisors are trained in emotional intelligence skills.

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Companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the performance management process with annual merit increases and incentive payouts linked more closely through formula-driven systems. This has been accompanied by a shift towards “metrics” (simply another word for measures). The old adage, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” has gained increasing credibility.

We’ve listed some key questions that ought to be addressed when using metrics to evaluate performance:

  • Do you use metrics for evaluating performance?
  • Are employees accountable for delivering on specific targets?
  • Do you pro-rate outcomes (% of plan) where the resulting percentage is meaningful (e.g., sales, production volume or, with not-for-profits, number of grants/sponsorships)?
  • Do you have metrics that require qualitative evaluation (e.g., customer perception/satisfaction scores, budget performance)?
  • Do you need metrics for your incentive plan?
  • Do your metrics include productivity measures (e.g., sales per sales rep, GM% by product line)
  • What do the metrics mean? Lots of activity measures with no productivity and no deliverables (e.g., number of invoices processed, number of sales calls made)?
  • When are activity measures relevant?
  • Have you gone overboard on metrics? (You have too many of them!)

We invite you to log on to our survey of performance management practices. After you complete the survey, we’ll share the results with you so that you can benchmark your practices against other companies. The URL is:


  • Qualitative performance objectives require criteria to answer the question: What does it mean to achieve this objective?
  • Performance objectives are the “what.” Each performance objective requires an action plan to answer the question “How will you achieve this objective?”

If you need answers to any of the questions listed above, please don’t hesitate to call us.

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