We were asked by a client last week if we could remove from our questionnaire the statements that probe ‘strategic’ level behaviour on the grounds that the relatively junior managers we are working with “can’t influence the strategy”. Our reply was that Level 5, or strategic level, behaviour is relevant for even the most junior team members.
In the Schroder framework the behaviours at Level 5 are the actions an individual takes to promote the high performance behaviour in others, even when they themselves are not there. Putting in place a system or process that enables the behaviour to happen (to be ‘done’ by others), even if the instigator is not present, is Level 5 behaviour. An example here for Level 5 Information Search might be setting up a monthly survey to gather information relevant to a project or process. The information gathering will now happen regularly, whether or not the instigator is present. Similarly a system or process that encourages a culture or value for a behaviour may also be Level 5. Level 5 Flexible Thinking might be introducing a team ‘rule’ that whenever the team is coming up with ideas, options or solutions, there always has to be at least four or five viable options on the table instead of the normal two or three. This encourages the development in that team of a culture of leaving no option unexplored rather than just going with the standard options that present themselves (and may not move the team/company/project on).
In practice this Level 5 or strategic behaviour can lead to significant performance improvements, especially if other high level behaviour is present in the same person or team – this is what we mean when we give an individual or a team a rating of ‘Strategic Strength’. That Level 5 Information Search survey may lead to an important trend being spotted, the root cause of a problem being identified or a new market opening, especially if combined with high level Idea Creation. That Level 5 Flexible Thinking may lead to an innovative new approach to delivery or a more robust solution to a problem.
So while we call it strategic-level behaviour, it’s not necessarily about the strategy of the business, although it will most certainly have a positive impact on this, too, in the longer term.
Most people have the potential to work at Level 5 in a handful of behaviours, whatever their rank within the organisation. And pretty much everyone can help promote high level behaviour in others, even if it’s just regularly reiterating how important that behaviour is. In fact, putting in place a communications or development programme to help every individual within the organisation understand their potential and know that it is valued, regardless of rank, is also potentially strategic behaviour.
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…
Or Is it measuring what you want it to measure?
We come across literally hundreds of ‘competency’ frameworks used within organisations. While some are great, many are not. Most have little or no rigour behind them.
Many describe a mix of outcomes, values and outlooks as well as behaviours. All of these jumbled together make it hard to work out what the messages are for the individual or organisation, or what action to take. Making strategic decisions based on flakey data is a costly business…
The underlying framework used in my360plus is the respected and validated Schroder model, which describes objective behaviours that have been shown to lead to superior performance.
As well as having literally decades of research and testing behind it, the model has stood the test of time, across business sectors, geographies and cultures.
The Schroder framework objectively measures behaviour, ie what people actually say and do as opposed to ‘outcomes’ which often pepper frameworks. The problem with outcomes (eg ‘meets or exceeds targets’ or ‘builds strong teams’ ) is that knowing you met or did not meet the expected outcome is interesting, but gives you no insight into HOW you delivered that outcome and therefore how to replicate it, transfer the skills to other tasks or help others to do the same. Measuring behaviour allows you to understand what you do now AND what you should do if you want to develop your performance.
The Schroder framework also expresses tightly-defined negative manifestation of the behaviours. This is behaviour which actively erodes value. Crucially, my360plus measures and reports both positive and negative behaviours simultaneously so that complex ratings (such as a ‘strength with some limiting behaviour’) can be reported and explained, together with appropriate coaching advice.
We can, and do, modify behaviour and cluster names, and behaviour descriptors to reflect corporate language and other requirements where necessary. This is always done my our experienced consulting team and cross checked to ensure question validity is maintained and that we are in fact still testing for the underlying, validated behaviour.
Practical benchmarking and use of the Schroder framework over four decades has shown that no one has strengths in all areas. (It could even be argued that no single leader needs strengths in all areas.) However, as a leader deals with increasingly complex and dynamic business challenges, they develop (ie strengthen) their profile. The keys to success are to:
- understand your profile – really understand what it is telling you about how you work and interact with others
- stop any negative behaviour immediately
- work on developing behavioural strengths that are important to your role
- work with colleagues with complementary strengths.
For more information on the Schroder framework contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.