Strategic 360s

Making feedback matter

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Here is Some Unfavorable Feedback

with one comment

My associates and I (Omeniho, Bracken, Mendelson, & Kuchinka, 2019) are presenting a poster at the Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organization Psychology (SIOP) on April 6 based upon Chioma’s recently completed dissertation.  At the same time, Buckingham and Goodall (2019) have published an article in Harvard Business Review (cover topic, no less) on the perils of negative/unfavorable feedback.  With no real data to support their case.  Must be nice.

In contrast, our paper/poster reinforces the value of feedback, both Favorable AND Unfavorable from BOTH supervisors and coworkers using work engagement as the outcome measure.

I offer an addendum to another benefit to collecting balanced feedback on all organizational leaders, i.e., to identify those who are not behaving in concert with organizational values and creating a toxic environment where inappropriate behaviors are being tolerated and, thereby, reinforced.

Reference: Buckingham M. & Goodall, A. (2019).  The feedback fallacy. Harvard Business Review, March-April..

Omeniho et al 2019

What’s Your “Way”?

leave a comment »

I had unexpected knee surgery recently and received a “Get Well” gift from my friends and colleagues, Laurie and John Slifka, in the form of the book, The Cubs Way (by Tom Verducci), which was especially meaningful coming from die hard St. Louis Cardinal fans.  The book traces the genesis of their 2016 Championship season, using the World Series as the backdrop.

If you are a baseball fan, you know who Theo Epstein is.  He became the youngest General Manager in baseball when he took that position with the Boston Red Sox (28 years old), and took them to their first championship in 86 years, a drought exceeded only by the Cubs.  After winning another championship, he came to Chicago to try to bring the same magic to the North Side’s “Lovable Losers,” the Cubs.

Epstein brought with him some staff from Boston and kept some staff from the Cubs, and gracefully integrated them into a team by creating a spirit of collaboration and a focus on winning.  Listening to their input, he created a 259 page manual called “The Cubs Way.” It covered every aspect of behavior on and off the field, from the top of the hierarchy to the bat boys.

I am writing this blog piece and this particular topic because of several themes I have been pursuing in my writing and presentations regarding topics such as how to create a culture and the role that trust plays in that process, and then how trust must be established at the level of the supervisor-subordinate relationship where feedback is difficult and sparse.

Trust, Respect and Culture

I believe that trust and respect are created between people when honest feedback is given, both the favorable and unfavorable.  This is in direct contrast to the “strengths only” movement that has gained much too much popularity.  I believe if you respect a person, you are honest with them.

So I had to put down the book and take up the keyboard as I was reading this book as Verducci relates parts of Epstein’s philosophy that became a key part of “The Cubs Way”:

“For years baseball teams rarely shared evaluations about players with the players themselves… It occurred to Epstein that the first time a team truly tells a player he’s not good enough is when it’s too late – when it releases him. It sounded absurd to him that a team wouldn’t tell a player about his strengths and weaknesses… It (a player development plan) does really create a great connection with the player and helps him develop himself… Epstein wanted a culture in which the players could trust the front office. And the way to help build that trust was to develop an open and honest personal connection.” (pp. 104-105).

For fun, they dug out an old scouting report on one of the coaches, and the report said that he was slow at turning double plays.  The coach was angry; “Why didn’t anyone tell me I needed to work on my turns?… I would have gotten to the big leagues so much quicker!”

Unfavorable Feedback is Better than None

I just completed chairing a dissertation that confirmed what most research says, i.e., that the most engaged employees are those that get both favorable and unfavorable feedback, and the least engaged are those who get neither.  Employees who get mostly unfavorable feedback are more engaged than those who get neither, and about the same as people who get mostly favorable feedback.

This philosophy is a core part of the culture the Cubs have built, “The Cubs Way.”  Your organization should have a “Way” as well.  When a Cubs employee does something exceptional, they yell out, “That Cub!!!”  And the example is set by the leaders; their behavior sets the culture.

What is “Your Way?”

Written by David Bracken

November 5, 2018 at 9:20 pm

Manager-Employee Feedback and Development: Why is it SO Hard?

leave a comment »

The current climate surrounding performance appraisals leans toward the abandonment of the administrative exercise we all have come to despise and, instead, replace it with a feedback culture of continuous exchanges between manager and direct report. The solution is not new, so why has it not been implemented in more organizations?

Access the article here:  Manager-Employee Feedback.

 

 

Strategic New Year!!

leave a comment »

2018 will be a seminal year for Strategic 360 Degree Feedback for several reasons.  To refresh your collective memories, in a previous post (https://wordpress.com/post/dwbracken.wordpress.com/656) I defined it as having these characteristics:

  • The content must be derived from the organization’s strategy and values, which are unique to that organization. Often derived from the organization’s values, they can be explicit (the ones that hang on the wall) or implicit (which some people call “culture”). To me, “strategic” and “off-the-shelf” is an oxymoron and the two words cannot be used in the same sentence (though I just did).
  • Participation must be inclusive, i.e., a census of the leaders/managers in the organizational unit (e.g., total company, division, location, function, level). I say “leaders/managers” because a true 360 requires that subordinates are a rater group. One reason for this requirement is that I (and many others) believe 360’s, under the right circumstances, can be used to make personnel decisions and that usually requires comparing individuals, which, in turn, requires that everyone have available the same data. This requirement also enables us to use Strategic 360’s to create organizational change, as in “large scale change occurs when a lot of people change just a little.”
  • The process must be designed and implemented in such a way that the results are sufficiently reliable (we have already established content validity in requirement #1) that we can use them to make decisions about the leaders (as in #4). This is not an easy goal to achieve, even though benchmark studies continue to indicate that 360’s are the most commonly used form of assessment in both public and private sectors.
  • The results of Strategic 360’s are integrated with important talent management and development processes, such as leadership development and training, performance management, staffing (internal movement), succession planning, and high potential processes. Research indicates that properly implemented 360 results can not only more reliable (in a statistical meaning) than single-source ratings, but are also more fair to minorities, women, and older workers. Integration into HR systems also brings with it accountability, whether driven by the process or internally (self) driven because the leader knows that the results matter.

For this past year, I have teamed with Allan Church, John Fleenor and Dale Rose to recruit an all-star roster of practitioners in our field to contribute chapters for an edited book, The Handbook of Strategic 360 Feedback (Oxford University Press). Though a continuation of many of the themes covered in The Handbook of Multisource Feedback (Bracken, Timmreck, & Church, 2001), this Handbook will have more of a practitioner focus with several case studies and new trends in this field.

The four of us will also host a panel discussion at the Annual Conference of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) in Chicago on April 19 at Noon. Joined by Michael Campion and Janine Waclawksi (PepsiCo), we will present our learnings and observations from assembling the thirty-chapter volume.

The 3D Group and PepsiCo will also host another in our series of semi-annual meetings of the Strategic 360 Forum, a consortium of organizations that use 360 Feedback for strategic purposes and are interested in sharing best practices.  This full day meeting will be held in Chicago on April 17 with several Handbook contributors leading discussions on various topics. For more information, go to the 3D Group website (https://3dgroup.net/strategic-360-feedback-forum/).

Finally, Strategic 360 Feedback will continue to be the most powerful tool in our kit for reliably measuring leadership behaviors that form the basis for engagement, motivation, productivity and retention. Using 360’s, we can create culture change and develop leaders by defining, measuring, and holding leaders accountable for behaving consistently with organizational goals and values.

Have a Strategic New Year!

David Bracken

AI YI YI!

leave a comment »

Image result for images of cartoon head exploding

Artificial Intelligence is not only here to stay, it may well outlive and replace most of us.  During this rapidly evolving introduction of AI into our lives (sometimes without our knowledge and/or consent; see Amazon.com’s recent experience with lawsuits aimed at their Alexa division), we should be vigilant regarding its use.

I have been invited to participate in a conversation hour at the next SIOP Conference (in Chicago in April, 2018) on the implications of AI for our profession and organizations in general.  In our proposal writing process, I came upon this article about the use of AI in the recruiting and hiring process as used by Unilever (https://goo.gl/KH2LVW).

Frankly, it blows my mind.  Or should I say, blows up.

Almost every day, my favorite blog, The LowDown (thelowdownblog.com), seems to have a new article regarding AI, but I hadn’t thought enough about how it will affect our profession as IO Psychologist and our clients who look to us for expertise in helping them to make better decisions about current and prospective employees.  My hunch is that we (again, as a profession) are lagging behind in anticipating the issues coming down the pike on the back of AI tools.

The Unilever case study is remarkable for many reasons. They claim great efficiencies that AI creates in terms of handling large numbers of potential applicants at significant cost savings.  As an IO Psychologist, I became curious as to accuracy (i.e., validity) of their screens and evidence for job-relatedness.

At the risk of serving as free advertising, I want to draw your attention to the two vendors that Unilever uses in their hiring process, Pymetrics and HireVue. Pymetrics uses games to assess candidates and to apply neuroscience to the decision to progress or not. For those who pass, they are funneled into the HireVue interview technology, though not a “live” interview. Applicants are evaluated for key words, body language and tone.

Maybe you want to search their websites with me.  Here are two companies that are affecting the lives of thousands of people just with this one experience.

The Pymetrics website says (regarding validity), “The games have been validated through decades of use in neuroscience and cognitive psychology research settings to identify and evaluate people’s cognitive, emotional, and social traits. Several of the games have physical analogues dating back to the 19th century.” (https://goo.gl/iq5xgT)   Not a word about being job related or predicting actual job performance. They speak of reducing bias. I can do that too. Give me a coin to flip. That would be even faster (though I could still charge a lot for my flipping skill).

So who are these people?  HireVue’s founder has a Master’s in finance.  No evidence of science, but they look like they are having fun!  Pymetrics does have a neuroscientist on their senior team, and some other neuroscientists lurking.

Fast, fun and flexible. Is that our mantra for best practices in making decisions about people?  Maybe so. They seem to be doing quite well.  “They” being the vendors, maybe not so much the applicants.

Artificial Intelligence is not only here to stay, it may well outlive and replace most of us.  During this rapidly evolving introduction of AI into our lives (sometimes without our knowledge and/or consent; see Amazon.com’s recent experience with lawsuits aimed at their Alexa division).

I have been invited to participate in a conversation hour at the next SIOP Conference (in Chicago in April, 2018) on the implications of AI for our profession and organizations in general.  In our proposal writing process, I came upon this article about the use of AI in the recruiting and hiring process as used by Unilever (https://goo.gl/KH2LVW).

Frankly, it blows my mind.  Or should I say, blows up.

Almost every day, my favorite blog, The LowDown (thelowdownblog.com), seems to have a new article regarding AI, but I hadn’t thought enough about how it will affect our profession as IO Psychologist and our clients who look to us for expertise in helping them to make better decisions about current and prospective employees.  My hunch is that we (again, as a profession) are lagging behind in anticipating the issues coming down the pike on the back of AI tools.

The Unilever case study is remarkable for many reasons. They claim great efficiencies that AI creates in terms of handling large numbers of potential applicants at significant cost savings.  As an IO Psychologist, I became curious as to accuracy (i.e., validity) of their screens and evidence for job-relatedness.

At the risk of serving as free advertising, I want to draw your attention to the two vendors that Unilever uses in their hiring process, Pymetrics and HireVue. Pymetrics uses games to assess candidates and to apply neuroscience to the decision to progress or not. For those who pass, they are funneled into the HireVue interview technology, though not a “live” interview. Applicants are evaluated for key words, body language and tone.

Maybe you want to search their websites with me.  Here are two companies that are affecting the lives of thousands of people just with this one experience.

The Pymetrics website says (regarding validity), “The games have been validated through decades of use in neuroscience and cognitive psychology research settings to identify and evaluate people’s cognitive, emotional, and social traits. Several of the games have physical analogues dating back to the 19th century.” (https://goo.gl/iq5xgT)   Not a word about being job related or predicting actual job performance. They speak of reducing bias. I can do that too. Give me a coin to flip. That would be even faster (though I could still charge a lot for my flipping skill).

So who are these people?  HireVue’s founder has a Master’s in finance.  No evidence of science, but they look like they are having fun!  Pymetrics does have a neuroscientist on their senior team, and some other neuroscientists lurking.

Fast, fun and flexible. Is that our mantra for best practices in making decisions about people?  Maybe so. They seem to be doing quite well.  “They” being the vendors, maybe not so much the applicants.

©David W. Bracken, 2017

Written by David Bracken

August 8, 2017 at 11:00 pm

Crowd-sourced: Drive-thru Feedback?

leave a comment »

danger-fast-food

(co-authored with Dale Rose)

There were a couple of interesting webinars in the last 2 weeks on the topic of performance management trends.  One was hosted by AON (Levi Segal and Seymour Adler) and the other by Talent Quarterly (Dave Ulrich, hosted by Marc Effron).

I (Dave) am particularly interested in this topic at this moment because I will be hosting my own discussion/debate on this topic at SHRM Florida on August 31 in Orlando. There I will be joined by Keith Lykins (Lykins International) and Joann Gamicchia (Orange County Clerk of Courts) to share our perspectives and engage the audience in an exchange.

As a result, I recently became aware of work by Gerry Ledford regarding trends in the field of performance management (http://goo.gl/lpv8OZ).  He writes about “cutting-edge performance management,” which is characterized by three things: Ongoing feedback, ratingless reviews, and crowd-sourced feedback.

While there has been a lot of banter recently about how to create ongoing discussions between managers and their direct reports, what really caught my attention was this statement about crowd-sourced feedback (CSF):

There is very little written about and almost no research on this growing area, but we think it may replace traditional 360 feedback over time. It uses a technology (social media) that most employees know, it is delivered in real time rather than annually, and the feedback is free form and therefore less artificial than a 360 rating form.

It is interesting to hear a well respected author suggest that a feedback method with a fairly sizable research base might be replaced by another method because the new method is 1) familiar, 2) faster, and 3) easier to do.  This sounds a little like replacing a healthy nutritious meal with fast food. It’s not that fast food is without any merit – certainly we’ve all traveled enough to know that sometimes you just need something quick and easy.  But let’s not jump too quickly into assuming that fast-food-feedback will serve the same needs as 360° feedback.  Gerry is certainly correct that crowd-sourced feedback does not qualify as 360° feedback, especially if you compare it to the definition that we (Bracken, Rose & Church, in press) have proposed:

360° Feedback is a process for collecting, quantifying, and reporting co-worker observations about an individual (i.e., a ratee) that facilitates/enables three specific data-driven/based outcomes: (a) the collection of rater perceptions of the degree to which specific behaviors are exhibited; (b) the analysis of meaningful comparisons of rater perceptions across multiple ratees, between specific groups of raters for an individual ratee, and changes over time; and (c) the creation of sustainable individual, group and /or organizational change in behaviors valued by the organization.

At this point, it is difficult to make generalizations and comparison with 360° Feedback because CSF comes in many different forms. Josh Bersin’s review of the emerging feedback market has no clear category for the type of feedback system Ledford describes. Just from what we have read in various articles, we see that CSF might be:

  • “Push” feedback (ratees asking for feedback)
  • “Pull” feedback (raters provide feedback on their own, at their own initiative)
  • “Event” oriented (e.g., how did I do in a presentation?), though this is not really “ongoing”
  • Totally unstructured (open ended comments on whatever topic occurs to the rater)
  • Open ended but requires attaching comments to rating dimensions
  • Monitored by the organization or unfettered
  • Only for ratee or shared with/used by the organization (manager, HR, other decision makers)

We see potential value in many of these types of feedback, but they clearly do not provide the same benefits to a leader or organization that 360° Feedback can provide.

If we can make some comparisons between true 360° Feedback and CSF, we see these differences of some significance:

  1. Open-ended feedback (which CSF relies on) is highly skewed to a narrow set of content areas (Rose et al, 2004)
  2. Self-selection in crowd sourcing causes sampling bias
  3. CSF makes no allowance for “opportunity to observe” error/bias, i.e., the competence and motivation of the source (rater)
  4. CSF has no method to track individual or group change over time
  5. By using standardized survey content, 360s allow strategically-aligned behavior change across the system
  6. Use of feedback to create real change is greater with 360s (until proven otherwise)
  7. Well done 360s have safeguards against retaliation and misuse
  8. Normative comparisons to other company leaders is an option with 360s
  9. 360s can be aggregated to view company-wide or system-wide trends that can be compared over time (crowd sourcing cannot)
  10. Unlike CSF, 360s allow for census participation – all leaders can be directed to participate in a standardized process; allowing leaders to create organization-wide shifts in behavior and culture.

CSF’s are equivalent to 1-2 item 360’s in most cases where the rater is providing feedback on a very narrow set of behaviors (which may or may not be specified, may or may not be actionable). They are narrowly focused on content that may or may not be aligned with organizational competencies and/or values. They may be more timely than regularly scheduled 360’s, but not necessarily so (CSF may not be timely, and 360’s do not have to be just annual events). The opportunity for timeliness may be an illusion, an opportunity offered but not always fulfilled.

Dr. Ledford’s call for more research needs to be answered.  Here are some things we would like to know:

  • What are the various contexts in which CSF is collected? (We certainly should combine different methods in examining the effectiveness of the feedback, though we could compare methods).
  • Do ratees actually use the feedback (i.e., change their behavior, let alone pay attention to it)?
  • Does the novelty wear off over time?
  • What types of individuals avoid CSF vs. those who use it frequently? (are high performing early career employees more likely to use CSF than veterans with a long track record of success?)
  • What is the differential effect due to type of CSF?
  • What are the opinions of CSF? For users, nonusers and other stakeholders (e.g., HR, management)?

While we are certainly encouraged that there is so much interest in finding ways to improve employee feedback, it’s worth recognizing that 360° Feedback has a long history of success helping leaders to learn from their environment.  Further, there is a fair amount of research and consensus around best practice in 360° Feedback.  Hopefully researchers and practitioners will take a careful look at new feedback methods like CSF.  Until we have a longer track record and much more experience with CFS, it may be a bit premature to assume that CFS will fully serve an organization’s need for valid feedback that is useful for guiding a wide range of talent decisions.

This is not necessarily an either/or choice between using 360° Feedback and CSF. But we don’t think it should ever be a “CSF only” choice.

 

Bersin, J. (2015). Feedback is the killer app: A new market and management model emerges. Forbes, August 26.  Retrieved at http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2015/08/26/employee-feedback-is-the-killer-app-a-new-market-emerges/#41bf71036626

Bracken, D. W., Rose, D. S., & Church, A. H. (in press). The evolution and devolution of 360° feedback. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice.

Rose, D. S., Farrell, T., & Robinson, G. N.  (2004). Are Narrative Comments in 360-Degree Feedback Useful or Useless?  Technical Report #8253. Berkeley, CA: Data Driven Decisions, Inc.

The REAL Foundation to a Human Workforce

leave a comment »

I received an email invitation in my In Box recently for a webinar titled, “Recognition as the Foundation for a More Human Workforce.”  I deleted it but then went back to read it in more detail.

One of the reasons I deleted it is that it struck as sending the wrong message.  In fact, it does say “THE” foundation, not just “A” foundation.  All my experience, intuition, and even personal research tells me that this proposition is just plain wrong.

As relating to a “human” workforce, I recalled the piece by Emma Seppal in HBR (“Managers create more wellness than wellness plans do”) that speaks to the power of organizations and leaders characterized by trust, forgiveness, understanding, empathy, generosity, and respect. Is recognition lurking in there? Perhaps, but there is a big difference between recognition that is a daily spontaneous habit and what is viewed as a program.

When I was working with Dana Costar to design an upward feedback instrument for managers, we did a lot of background reading on possible drivers of perceptions of manager effectiveness.  It seemed to us that recognition was fairly far down the list, but recognition did keep popping up. So we somewhat grudgingly did include it as a dimension in our instrument to see how it stacked up when the data came in.

Our results (Costar & Bracken, 2014) on an international sample of 82 leaders showed that Trust is the leading driver of ratings of manager effectiveness, while Recognition fell far down the list. (As an aside, Trust was behind Facilitating Development in ratings of effectiveness as a Coach, but still far ahead of Recognition.)

Lolly Daskal’s blog in Inc. has a list of leadership “beliefs” (characteristics/behaviors) where says “Honoring Trust” is the “first job of a leader.”  But her list includes many other trust builders as well:

  • Leading by Example
  • Accepting Accountability
  • Leading with Integrity
  • Encompassing Humility
  • Manifesting Loyalty
  • Showing Respect
  • Leading with Character

(I see that recognition, “Exhibiting Appreciation” does make the list but is, in my opinion, overwhelmed by these other factors and a cousin to recognition.)

Gallup’s list of critical manager capabilities includes these:

  • They motivate every single employee to take action and engage employees with a compelling mission and vision.
  • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
  • They create a culture of clear accountability.
  • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency.
  • They make decisions based on productivity, not politics.

We don’t see recognition on this list either, but we do see trust.

Vendors are pushing recognition apps. I believe they fall in the category of activities that are relatively harmless but of little value. If there is harm (besides wasted expense) it is that they, by nature, are targeted only at positive feedback. Then there is a lost opportunity to create awareness of other important behavioral/skill deficits.

I have proposed that “Trust” comes in two forms: Trusts and Trusted. Turned into behaviors that can be defined, developed and measured, they look like this:

TrustMCL

Trust is one of those constructs that may be elusive to pin down definitionally, but we all know it and, more importantly, feel it when we experience it. Unfortunately (tongue deeply embedded in cheek) there will never be a “trust” app.  But trust can be “deleted” just as fast as an app with no opportunity to reinstall.

Trust is the real foundation of a human workforce.  Define it, develop it and measure it.  Then your organization has a chance of really being “human.”

 

Costar, D.M., & Bracken, D.W. (2014). The impact of trust and coaching relationship on manager effectiveness ratings.  In D.W. Bracken (Chair) Manager As Coach: Defining, Developing and Measuring Effectiveness. Symposium at the 29th Annual Conference of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Honolulu, HI, May, 2014.

©David W. Bracken 2016