363 LEADERSHIP COACHING
These trends are creating the need for managers and leaders to get better feedback about their skills and behaviors from sources other than just their boss.
A coaching process is a very effective way to do that. The goal of feedback is to increase an individual’s awareness of his or her behaviors so that they can become a more effective leader. Feedback is solicited from an individual’s supervisor, direct reports, peers, and others and then compares that feedback with a self-assessment to determine strengths, development needs and potential “blind spots.”
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This type of feedback can be a valuable tool if used correctly. Based on our experience implementing feedback processes, we have put together a list of nine best practices that we’ve found are essential to success.
NINE Best Practices
1. A Clear Purpose
The feedback process should be designed to address a specific business or strategic need. For example:
The key is to be clear about the strategic purpose and clearly communicate that to participants and raters
2. Focus on Development versus Performance
A key to a successful process is to use the tool for development. While there is an ‘evaluative’ component to the process, the outcome is about overall employee growth. If the process is seen as a performance tool, problems can emerge (e.g., employee resistance, rater’s ‘padding’ responses, and fear of retaliation that may prevent candid feedback).
3. Create a Meaningful Competency Model
Build a customized and personal competency model that focuses on the specific behaviors the leader must demonstrate to help your organization succeed in the future (versus a one size fits all approach). Align the competencies and behaviors with strategic objectives. By identifying the essential behaviors needed, the competency model will define leadership expectations and will serve as a guide for talent management and succession planning.
4. Build in Accountability for Results and Change
Require that participants complete an action plan. Require leaders to participate in meeting with their coaches to review the action plan and discuss next steps. Regular coaching should occur over time. Formal “check-in” meetings take place to review progress against the development plan. If necessary, provide additional coaching or training for the managers/supervisors (e.g., coaching, giving feedback, listening, handling defensiveness) to build skills.
5. Identify Gaps and Strengths
Data collected for an individual is presented in a report format that is clear and concise. These reports give leaders an opportunity to receive feedback on current behavior as well as needed behaviors. The result is a look at both strengths and development needs. The report outlines an individual’s strengths and areas for improvement. Reporting both strengths and areas for improvement provides the best opportunity for development planning.
6. Maintain Confidentiality
Confidentiality can be a concern for the individual being evaluated as well as those providing the feedback. This is one reason most organizations use an external partner to administer the process. Make sure that those who complete feedback instruments will not be individually identified. Create a process where they are comfortable giving honest and complete feedback.
7. Give Individual Participants “Ownership”
We give participants ownership of the process. We allow them to select their raters. If they have their raters assigned to them it is easier to disown the data since they weren’t involved in the selection of the raters. We often find it helpful to have the manager/supervisor participate in the rater selection process. That way s/he is involved at the front-end of the process as well as the back-end while coaching and providing support.
8. Support the Process
We have developed a process where one of our experts facilitates a coaching/feedback session with the 363 participant. The purpose of this meeting is to help the participant read and interpret results, identify strengths and development needs, work through any defensiveness, answer questions, provide focus for development planning. Finally, it is important to support the overall process with resources (e.g., training, books, materials, ongoing coaching, etc.).
9. Repeat in 12 to 24 Months
Organizations that have successful feedback processes measure progress and improvement efforts by administering again in 12-24 months. While nothing is static (i.e., direct reports may change, roles and responsibilities may change), repeating the process helps to provide participants with a metric over time. The organization can also monitor its results by analyzing changes in the aggregate report.