Friday, September 25th, 2020

High Quality 360 Feedback – Changing mindsets

changing_mindsetsThis post is about the importance of focusing on both mindsets and behavior when creating an action plan at the end of a 360-feedback process.

In a recent post, Kevin Cashman reported new research with a large sample size of managers and companies that clearly established, through quantitative assessment, that the managers in companies with higher financial performance had higher self-awareness than the managers of lower performing companies. Wow! How to act on this knowledge?

Theoretically, one way to increase self-awareness in a company’s leaders is to give them 360 feedback. Possibly. But it really depends on how the 360 process is designed and implemented. I’ll say it bluntly: Instituting a 360-feedback process and leaving participants alone to become “self-aware” and interpret and act on the feedback (which some companies still do) is wishful thinking and a waste of time and money. At a bare minimum, 360 participants should be supported in three ways:

  1. They should receive an orientation (one-on-one or in a group) that shows them how to lean into the process and get the most out of it.
  2. A coach, trained to use the feedback instrument you’ve chosen, should help them interpret and “digest” the feedback.
  3. That same trained coach should help them create a solid action plan that gives them a clear template for the changes they want to make.

What about saving time and money doing steps 2 and 3 in a group setting? My experience is that, if you want the same results that a one-on-one orientation provides, the group approach still needs to be followed by some one-on-one time. You can save maybe 30 minutes of coach time per person by using both approaches, plus, if you have a good design for the group debrief, you can create a greater sense of camaraderie among the participants.

Even better – much better – Participants should also be provided with coaching sessions to help them implement their intended changes, and ensure that they stick. You’ve already made a substantial investment in their time and the company’s money by getting them to the action plan phase. You can now substantially leverage that investment by providing at least some coaching to get them started. Best of all, make sure the coaching includes a focus on self-leadership – teaching them how to sustain change by continuously experimenting toward more effective behavior and reaching out to others for feedback.

Now we’re down to the bottom line of this post: The importance of focusing on both mindsets and behavior when creating an action plan. In the Development Planner that accompanies the Leadership Agility 360, we have a format that helps managers get very clear about each behavior they want to change. (We usually recommend no more than three changes at a time). Briefly but specifically, they describe the current (soon to be “old”) behavior. Then: What will the new behavior look like?

This is about as far as most 360 action plans go. But at this point, our certified Leadership Agility 360 coaches are trained to ask: What is the new (or shift in) mindset, attitude, feeling, or assumption, that will make it feel easy and natural to change to the new behavior? This often leads to an in-depth coaching conversation, which inevitably includes becoming aware of the mindset that underlies the “old” behavior. What a difference that makes! The mindset shift becomes a reference point to which the manager can return repeatedly, making it easier and easier to internalize a new approach to leadership.

Also, at the beginning of the 360 process, our coaches help their clients clarify their key leadership initiatives, telling them that these initiatives will provide one important reference point in their choice of (mindset and) behavioral changes to work on. Then, once their action plan is complete, coaches help clients visualize how making these changes will enhance their ability to accomplish their leadership initiatives, clarifying the specific situations where they most want to practice leading in new ways.

Image41Bill Joiner is co-author of the award-winning book, Leadership Agility.  He is President and a Principal Consultant at ChangeWise, a firm with international reach that specializes in leadership consulting, coaching and training; team development; and organizational change consulting.

Follow Bill Joiner on Twitter – @leaderagility

One response to “High Quality 360 Feedback – Changing mindsets”

  1. margaret says:

    Thank you thank you thank you. Most organizations do not want to do the work that makes 360s valuable, the work that you very accurately identify here. Unleashing 360s into organizations without the right preparation is almost an unkind act. It can erode trust, undermine confidence and productivity. Those in leadership are often unaware of the unconscious decision making bias that affects their judgments about people. They do not possess the training and self knowledge that helps them to be objective enough about others to really provide them meaningful, helpful feedback.

    Best of luck with your efforts to raise this awareness through your consulting work because people DO need useful feedback to grow and succeed.

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