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Weaknesses focused or strengths based 360 – what does yours measure?

Many frameworks used in 360 feedbacks are not much more than wish-lists of characteristics that a well-meaning consultant or HR professional has said everyone should possess.

The result is usually a ‘deficit’-based approach where, at best, equal weight is given to strengths and weaknesses; at worst weak areas are highlighted. Without guidance the weaker areas are what people end up focussing on.

However, a deficit-base approach really is wasted effort – and therefore wasted money.

When being given the results of any psychometric intervention, it’s human nature to go straight to what you are ‘no good at’. Immediately that’s where we direct our attention which means there’s less energy or time left to focus on our stronger attributes. This is so demotivating. 360 feedback should be a positive experience – a chance to understand where our strengths lie and to further enhance our strengths.

The reality is human beings are hardly ever good at everything. But it is extremely powerful to understand what we are good at because we can then put those strengths to work for us to create the greatest impact on performance.

My360plus is a  strengths based 360 that uses the Schroder framework which focuses on a person’s strengths. If we are already good at a behaviour – or are starting to develop a strength in that behaviour – research shows that a) we will tend to use that behaviour more frequently and b) we will get better results. Therefore the my360plus approach is to recognise your strengths – and play to them. Develop them even further perhaps.

If by contrast we focus on developing a behaviour where we are weaker, it may be some time before we are competent enough to use that behaviour at a level at which we can make any significant positive impression on performance. All that effort… for an average performance. Much better to put that effort into an area where you already make a positive impact and see your performance really go through the roof! Now THAT is enough to energise and motivate anyone – and never mind what it can do for the overall bottom line.

All the Schroder behaviours used in the my360plus framework can be developed, but people will find some behaviours easier to develop than others. And clearly we have to consider the payback an individual, team or department will get for their developmental efforts.

It is true that any ‘limitations’ in a person’s profile, ie the negative incarnation of a behaviour where the limiting behaviour has a detrimental effect on a person or performance, should be stopped as soon as possible. But if a profile shows a behaviour is simply ‘not developed’ it doesn’t mean it is immediately necessary to start developing it. It may be more effective (in terms of time, effort and results) to focus on developing Developing Strengths into Strengths, or a Strength into a Strategic Strength.

Here’s a question though: what if an individual really NEEDS a particular high performance behaviour for their role… and it is not a Strength? Well, if they have a Developing Strength in the behaviour, working on it to make it a Strength should be their focus. But if the behaviour is Not Developed or has a Limitation, perhaps that person is in the wrong role…

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