About the Alliance
Leadership Matters Blog
LEAD. GROW. INSPIRE.
As an independent coach and consultant for 25 years now, we are always honing our coaching practice in support of helping our clients grow and achieve great things. Over the years, I’ve learned and used quite a few coaching methods, tools, frameworks, and of course assessments. A couple of tools I’ve even created myself because I couldn’t find anything out there that measured what I was looking for. I’ve been asked many times (by other coaches) what is the ‘best’ tool for X or Y when I’m coaching so I’ve decided to share our best practices and tool-kit by featuring them in newsletters and will be doing a couple of workshops for Coaches/Consultants too so be on the lookout for announcement of those!
Where to Start? At the beginning… assessment tools that get to the heart of things!
I don’t think I’ve met a coach that doesn’t use some sort of assessment. Ennegram, MBTI, Strengths-Finder, DiSC, etc. are great for looking at the individual being coached to help them discover more about their strengths, stressors, needs in their work, and workstyles but we’ve found that 360-degree feedback from people who work closely with the client is one of THE MOST POWERFUL tools to support the coaching and development plan. In fact, 360-degree feedback is so powerful – when it is done poorly (or with the wrong instrument) it causes great damage. These tools are designed to gather comprehensive feedback from multiple sources, including peers, subordinates, supervisors, and sometimes even clients, to provide a well-rounded assessment of an executive's performance and leadership skills.
Today, we’re going to share the BEST TOOL and one BEST PRACTICE for when NOT to use this very powerful coaching tool.
When selecting a 360-degree feedback tool for executive coaching, it's essential to consider factors like the assessment's validity, reliability, reporting features, and how the tool can align with the specific coaching goals and the organization's culture and values.
Our Affiliate Coaches (and their clients love) the CheckPoint360 Survey. This instrument was created by Profiles International (a Wiley company) based on research of 1000’s of leaders/managers in hundreds of organizations globally. We like this instrument because it confidentially and anonymously measures 70-key leadership behaviors that are associated with 18 skills-sets and 8 universal competencies. Most 360-surveys are overwhelming, hard to digest, and lack clear development priorities. Plus, many of them measure the leader on a scale of “dissatisfied to satisfied” or “ineffective to effective” which is very judgmental and causes the ‘rater’ to over-inflate/under-report their ratings based on their judgment of the person. It also causes the leader to become defensive and unable to see the feedback as helpful developmental feedback.
Our instrument invites the “respondent” to the survey to provide feedback on a scale of ‘frequency of observed behavior’, so they are honestly reporting how often they see the leader display a particular behavior. No judgment. Just their experience in working with the individual. The leader being coached is much more accepting of the feedback because they can envision themselves doing a particular behavior more frequently if needed. Our Coaches rely on the Profiles’ 360-Survey for many more reasons, not the least of which is the simplicity and clarity of the reports that support the leader in setting specific goals and priorities for their development. Want to learn more, contact me or be on the lookout for our Webinar Workshop!
When NOT to use a 360-degree survey tool
While 360-degree feedback tools can be valuable resources for executive coaches and leadership development, there are certain situations where using them might not be appropriate or effective. Here are some scenarios when a coach should avoid or carefully consider not using a 360-degree feedback tool:
1. Lack of Trust: If there is a significant lack of trust within the organization or between the executive and their colleagues, the feedback gathered through a 360-degree assessment may not be candid or constructive. In such cases, the feedback may be skewed or not genuinely reflective of the executive's performance.
2. Organizational Culture: Some organizational cultures may not be ready to embrace the openness and transparency required for effective 360-degree feedback. If the culture is hierarchical, authoritarian, or punitive, using a 360-degree tool could lead to negative consequences and resistance.
3. Unwillingness to Act on Feedback: If the executive or the organization is not prepared to take action based on the feedback received, using a 360-degree tool can be counterproductive. Collecting feedback without a commitment to change can lead to frustration and de-motivation among participants.
4. Coaching Goals and Readiness: If the primary coaching goals are not aligned with what a 360-degree assessment can offer, it might not be the right tool. For instance, if the focus is on a specific skill development that doesn't require input from multiple sources, other assessment methods might be more suitable.
5. Time and Resources: Implementing a 360-degree feedback process requires time, effort, and resources from both the coach and the organization. If these resources are limited, it might be better to focus on other coaching methods that can provide valuable insights without the extensive preparation required for a 360-degree assessment.
6. Small Team or Confidentiality Concerns: In organizations with small teams, it might be challenging to maintain confidentiality in the feedback process. If executives are concerned about their responses being traceable to specific individuals, they may be less likely to provide honest and constructive feedback.
7. Unstable Organizational Context: During periods of significant organizational change or upheaval, using a 360-degree feedback tool might not be the best approach. The feedback gathered in such uncertain environments may not accurately reflect the executive's performance under normal circumstances.
Before using a 360-degree feedback tool, executive coaches should carefully assess the readiness of the organization, the executive, and the team members involved. Open communication about the purpose and benefits of the assessment, along with a commitment to act on the feedback, is crucial to ensuring the success and effectiveness of the 360-degree feedback process. In some cases, alternative coaching methods may be more appropriate to address the specific needs and challenges of the executive.
For our next article for your “Coach’s Toolkit” I will do a deep-dive into the Best Practices when using a 360-survey. Until then, Happy Coaching!
Lynda Silsbee is Founder and President of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration. She has spent more than 30 years creating and leading high performance teams. Along with the other LEAP Certified Coaches, she reports that helping managers make the LEAP to leader is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her work.