Going beyond traditional 360 feedback tools

In our FACTS coaching model, the ‘F’ stand for feedback and this week I have been gathering a lot of feedback for my clients but using two different approaches. For one, the Country MD of a large multinational in Sweden we used the traditional and formal 360 feedback report with its structured competencies and behaviours. For the other, a global brand director in the same company, I have been conducting informal feedback interviews with six of his colleagues. This experience prompted me to compare and contrast the two approaches.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               .
First, traditional 360 feedback reports. Over the years, I have de-briefed hundreds of such reports with my clients. I wonder if I am the only coach to notice that the ‘scores’ on such reports are always in the upper quartile and, on paper, give the impression that every client is a superman or superwoman. I find subordinates are particularly flattering in their praise, closely followed by peers and customers leaving the poor old line manager to ‘dish the dirt’. My clients often rush over the colourful graphs in such reports showing detailed, analytical scores to focus upon the free format written comments at the rear of the report where at last they find some anecdotal nuggets which to them speak the truth and face the FACTS.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 .
You will not be surprised to hear that increasingly I prefer the second approach to gathering feedback where I informally interview several stakeholders of the client. I find that in conversation the feedback is richer and more frank with specific examples being used to support subjective impressions. I regularly hear the same words being used repeatedly by different stakeholders and I highlight these for future reference. Often it is in the nuances of what people say that I hear valuable details and telling comments. It is all very low-tech but without the constraint of structure and boxes to tick I find the truth can emerge more spontaneously and in starker form.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    .
One of the principles in our book ‘Challenging Coaching’ is ‘speak your truth, face the FACTS’. This brief assessment of approaches to gathering feedback has made me realise that the truth is more easily spoken than it is captured in tick boxes. If we want our clients and leaders to face the FACTS then there is no substitute for the precision and the vast range of the spoken word.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    .
Let us know what you think via the challenging coaching linkedin group.
Posted in News and Muse