As a keen fan of our national broadcaster I watched with interest the recent Four Corners episode about the turmoil surrounding the positions of MD and Chair of the Corporation.
I was particularly struck by the reference to a 360 degree feedback process undertaken to review the interpersonal performance of the MD.
What struck me was the way the instrument was described as merely a development tool.
I disagree totally with this.
If the instrument is valid – can be demonstrated to be a scientifically accurate measure of leadership behaviours – it need not be just for development, it can be for governance purposes as well.
In the vast majority of cases 360 degree feedback is used to provide guidance to a leader about how to optimise their behaviours in order to maximise commitment, energy and engagement amongst their staff. This gives the exercise a pure development focus.
But if there are indications of very negative responses to a leader, particularly coupled with other evidence such as resignations or indications of low productivity it can be used as evidence of a need to make a leadership change.
It can also be used to draw a line in the sand – “Unless these scores change within three months we will consider the situation not to be sustainable”.
I have seen cases where 360 degree feedback made it clear that there were systematic and consistent issues with the behaviour of a leader and I have seen 360 degree feedback exonerate leaders who were under a cloud of innuendo.
Well developed 360 tools accurately capture the true breadth of opinions on a leader.
360 degree feedback provides unique information, provided that the tool works and that the exercise is constructed effectively.
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