360 Degree Feedback and the Best Return on Investment
At Full Circle we have worked with thousands of leaders from a wide range of industries over the last decade. Our data indicates that acting and being consistently perceived as an exceptional leader is achieved by about 10% of participants in a typical 360 degree feedback project. Can you imagine the impact in your organisation if that number of exceptional leaders was multiplied?
Focus on Strengths to get the best Return on Investment
Most of our clients are intent on increasing the competence or capability of their leaders. There is often an inherent attitude of remediation, i.e. ensuring that no one in the management cohort is acting in ways that are counter productive. Our experience is that the majority of leaders are doing a pretty good job and are intent on even doing a better job.
We often ask our clients to therefore consider focusing on people building their strengths rather than ensuring that people are passing the acceptable competency test. We believe that this represents ultimately the best Return on Investment for 360 degree feedback projects.
We also find that it is worthwhile to focus strongly on measuring leadership and not just management behaviors in our 360 degree feedback surveys. There is a very strong correlation between organisational success and a heavy investment in leadership development. If we can reasonably assume that people must possess strengths to be appointed leaders, then those strengths are the ultimate key to their success.
Our data shows that the top scoring 10% of leaders typically have a cluster of outstanding strengths. They can even accommodate some behaviors scoring in the mid range. None of them have scores that would be considered low. We talk to participants about building a solid platform of leadership. We ask them to identify their key strengths before we look at their Full Circle reports. The reports then allow further insight into those strengths. There is a fundamental reason we follow this approach:
Most people's strengths reflect their interests, values, personalities and even their passions. For example an individual who values learning may be very good at developing their people. It is a far easier task to build on existing strengths than to develop them from a blank slate.
Build Capacity From Existing Strengths
Leadership is complex. It is very difficult to be excellent all of the time at the 50 plus behaviors included in your average 360 degree feedback survey. Our approach is targeted on building capacity from existing strengths rather than focusing broadly on all leadership behaviors.
Know your Strengths
Be clear about what your strengths are by using your Full Circle report. Ensure that these strengths are valued by your organisation. We notice that all participants pay attention to their Manager's perceptions on the importance scale! There is good reason for this – people want to ensure they are valued by their organisation. For example a leader may have a brilliant entrepreneurial streak but find herself mismatched in a bureaucratically focused organisation.
Examine the Cluster of Strengths
We know that exceptional leaders have the right pairing of strengths. The classic division of strengths that we constantly see is the people and task split. Many leaders are good at focusing on strategic thinking, outcomes and decision-making but fall down in areas such as coaching, listening and motivating people. Exceptional leaders have winning combinations of strengths.
Act on Any Low Scores
Exceptional leaders cannot afford to have skill deficits, blind spots or areas of neglect that will pull them down. For example if a leader avoids conflict it may bring them undone one day. It is important to address any perceptions in your 360 degree feedback report.
Focus on Ongoing Change
Changing our behaviour, particularly our daily habits, is typically difficult. Put in place all the supports you need to keep going forward. Coaching is an excellent example that assists people stay on track.
Remember the real challenge is to develop exceptional leaders rather than just competent managers. This represents the maximum return from your 360 degree feedback project.