Monday, March 8, 2010

360 Degree Feedback - Something like this could have helped Captain Holly Graf - I'm not kidding or piling on. 360 Degree Feedback works.

Enhancing Individual Leaders – 360 Degree Feedback Survey

“I personally benefited in receiving the best feedback in 34 years as a naval officer on how others see me. Honest, constructive feedback from seniors, peers and subordinates enhanced my leadership skill set, and I think it (360 degree feedback) can do the same thing throughout the Navy.”

Vice Admiral Tim LaFleur, Commander, U.S. Naval Surface Forces, 8 October 2004
As part of the Human Capital Strategy, the Navy is testing a new pilot program designed to enhance individual leadership skills. Corporate executives have tested a multi-rater feedback system over the last five years designed to provide honest and frank feedback on their performance within the work environment. Taking the lead from industry, a 360 degree feedback pilot program is currently being tested within the surface warfare officer community as a potential counseling tool to be implemented fleetwide.

  • Success in the pilot program will ultimately result in a more professional and qualified officer corps. The measurable analysis will help to shape the counseling process and assist in developing a training plan with the goal of improving performance.
  • The pilot program which began in October and is running through September 2007, will be tested onboard a small number of ships, large shore commands, one NROTC unit and at the Surface Warfare Development Group.
  • Leadership competencies will be graded in four areas including: self-assessment and assessment by three superiors, three peers and three subordinates.
  • The information will be constructive in nature, for counseling purposes only, and will remain confidential. The information will not be entered into fitness reports or be used in administrative screening boards or statutory promotions. If the participant elects, he/she can share the information with their respective chain of command.
Like so many other Navy things - GREAT start and poor follow through.

You can read my article about "360 Degree Feedback - Can we really handle the truth?" from USNI's PROCEEDINGS MAGAZINE

11 comments:

USNchic said...

Fantastic concept. What happened?! Perhaps too many feelings got hurt?

Anonymous said...

I did one of these surveys for a senior, and the survey was directly lifted from business and not tailored towards the Navy. Hard to give feedback when your answering questions that don't directly apply.

Anonymous said...

I fully supported 360 feedback when it was first developed. However, three years down the road, I am not really certain if that's the direction we wanted to go. The idea in concept is great...to see what people above, below, and at the peer level "really" think of the officer in question. For one, I thought (at the time) that I would do quite well...I tried hard to be fair and liked by everyone, and treated everyone with dignity and respect. BUT...I ended up in a subsequent tour where the people I served with weren't nearly as gung-ho as the ones in the previous tour. Being fair, not micro-managing, and treating people with kid gloves didn't always work. Sometimes, there were justifiable times when the gloves came off, the counseling started...and after several counselings and warnings without result, "hard love" was the order of the day. In an operational combat command, being a "nice guy" just didn't always work and sometimes getting the mission done - and keeping people alive - meant pissing people off. So how would I have been rated by one of the officers or Chiefs that I relieved for non-performance? Probably not well. I honestly doubt that they would have had the mature insight to consider that what I was doing was really "tough" leadership...if they could have seen that, they probably wouldn't have been in the position in the first place! In much the same way, I served under at least one sub-par officer. I didn't really pay him too much mind...I worked with him and tried to make him look as good as I could. Others I served with relished the opportunity to butt heads with him and openly considered him an "incompetent boob". So who would have been selected to give him the subordinate level feedback? Me? Or one of the guys who didn't like him? The feedback would have been SIGNIFICANTLY different, depending on who they selected.

Perhaps it's time to re-incorporate "confidential" reporting as FITREPs in the 1950s had...there was the FITREP that the officer saw, and then there was a block that was direct communication from the RS to the selection board...and the officer never saw it. Perhaps then we could finally get accurate and unbiased feedback...even though there are many pitfalls along that way as well...

Captain - Special Duty Cryptology said...

Anonymous 6:51

Great comments. Thank you.

Mike

General Quarters said...

ssI think it is worth considering 360 feedback...but with caution and discernment. It is my belief that the Navy has already uncritically embraced too many kooky corporate practices, almost as though we had no talent, tradition, or organizational ability of our own on which to draw.

I have experienced both civilian and military leadership, and IMO senior corporate leadership is generally weaker, less adept, less flexible, and more authoritarian than naval leadership, despite all the problems discussed here. For the most part, we should be teaching them.

This is not to say that the corporate world has NOTHING to offer us, but we really need to make awfully damn sure that whatever we import is highly relevant, and results in enough actual improvement worth the disruption of importing it and the extra effort of doing it.

Anonymous said...

Back in the mid-80s SURFPAC did something called an "HRAV" (Human Relations Availability) during the turn-around cycle. It included a series of "anonymous" surveys at various levels of the chain of command (although at the higher levels it was pretty easy to figure out who the "LT in the Weapons Dept. who works for the XO" was). The critiques of the CO's abusive leadership style were pretty blunt from all levels and he took it to heart...for about 72 hours. Eventually something happened that torched him off and things went back to "normal". Suspect 360 evals would be treated the same way by screamers like CAPT Graff.

Like anonymous 6:51, I see some value in confidential evaluations. Unfortunately we haven't done those in about 40 years so think it's unlikely that we'll ever return to them.

C-dore 14

Anonymous said...

Booz Allen Hamilton does the 360 assessment and it works well. However, military is different from the corporate world.

stephen said...

I don't think it would work in all situations. A hard core alcoholic has one and only one thing on their mind. First and foremost: "next drink."

For dysfunctional types such as Holly Graf and other bullies and sadists, what makes you think they would listen to anything at all, much anything from those "lower than they are." Besides, it would not take much to figure out who said what and retaliate.

I really do not know what the answer is to this problem.

I do know that the taxpayer's children deserve better than Holly Graf and others like her.

Our sailors of all ranks deserve better.

Our country deserves better.

Anonymous said...

This concept should be taken a step further and incorporated into the FITREP. How many of you out there have been the workhorse of the organization, the go to servicemember that your subordinates flocked to and your peers tried to emulate...and you learn that you were ranked number 2 or 3 because you weren't the golden child or a close confidant of the commander.

The military would be lead by true leaders if they were evaluated by all...the "yes men and woman" that have made a career out of being politicians instead of coaching, teaching and mentoring those in there charge would be exposed for who they are.

Gen Petraeus has not always been the golden child in the eyes of the Army, and yet he is the best at what he does as a commander. I bet if his immediate soldiers were given a voice in his evaluations that he received...it would have exposed the truth...that his superiors didn't understand his brilliance in understanding and approach and felt inferior to him. Rather than improve themselves...the easier thing to do is cut him down to their size. The man is a phenominal leader and we are lucky that he is persistant.

How many great leaders have left the service symply because they couldn't deal with the BS anymore...mainly the inept and inaccurate evaluations that they received from less than stellar reporting seniors who were more concerned with profiles than honest assessments (which ultimately would have affected their career if they decided to stay). How many out there feel that the institution just doesn't "get" what is truly important...the LITTLE GUY! The only way to rectify that is to give THE LITTLE GUY a voice. Sure, it can't be the only voice...but it should be equally weighted with the evaluations of peers and superiors alike.

The people who are squashing this concept are not true leaders...they are politicians. They like things the way the are because they know how to work the system. One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is from Gladiator. Russle Crow, "Mazimus" says "Let my army see me alive and you will see where their loyalties lie..."

Can we honestly say that about everyone in your chain of command? In this day in age...we damn well should be able to...and this concept applied to evaluations seen by promotion and command screening boards would help us get there...and establish the kind of culture in the military we quote from books...but only a few "true" leaders actually live.

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