CorporateCoach eNewsletter

Issue No. 7 October 2001

Brought to you by the Brefi Group: "Developing your business through strategy, facilitation and executive coaching – internationally."

Web site: /coaching
Editor: Richard Winfield, rwinfield@brefigroup.co.uk
Subscribers: 680 copies, worldwide

Welcome to this issue of CorporateCoach – a free newsletter for senior executives and teams in organisations interested in using coaching to improve corporate performance. Please share it with colleagues and contacts who will benefit from reading it.

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HOT NEWS 1: We are pleased to welcome another associate to Brefi Group

Arthur Dawes has joined our Birmingham coaching centre.

Arthur has over 20 years experience of sales and marketing gained working with blue chip companies across many sectors and is committed to developing fully motivated, results oriented executives, participating in the team ethic.

Arthur is a keen squash and badminton player. He is also a qualified Football Association soccer coach, and sees a natural link between sports and business coaching.


CONTENTS

  1. Editorial: Discovering differences
  2. Tools notes: 360 degree feedback


1.     Editorial: Discovering differences

If there is a good thing that has come out of the terrorist attacks on America it is recognition of how little the West and the Muslim world know about each other.

Building rapport requires an understanding of the other party's perception – what we would call their map of the world – and Western governments and individuals are rapidly recognising the depth of their ignorance about Islam and the spread of fundamentalism.

In my early days in the USA I had great difficulty following directions. Americans think in terms of travelling along roads ("follow Archibald and then take Vineyard, north") – in Britain we think in terms of travelling between junctions and landmarks ("turn left at the Nag's Head"). Two ways of communicating the same message – but completely different mental maps.

I have been working on a business plan to establish a company in France. And the same applies. The French use codified law – laws and regulations are written down to give permission. In Britain, case law is flexible, evolves with use and prohibits behaviour. Tax is different too. Nothing is complicated – but to a stranger it seems, well, strange!

I have worked in the public and private sectors and in government, and different mental models apply in each.

How often do we waste time and cause confusion because we have not taken the trouble to discover the other party's model of the world? After all, if the meaning of the communication is the response it elicits, then if we cannot anticipate the response, we cannot expect to communicate effectively.

360 degree feedback enables us to discover how other people perceive us, as well as how well we are performing.

Carol Newland tells us more about it in this issue of CorporateCoach.

I am pleased to welcome Arthur Dawes to work with me in establishing the Birmingham Corporate Coaching Centre. Arthur recently spotted someone he had known at school over 30 years ago. As a result of him telling me how they had met up, we discovered that not only had they been at the same school but so had I – though at a different time.


2.     Tools notes: 360 degree feedback

360 feedback is a powerful tool that has been around for sometime. Essentially it is a way of getting feedback on our performance from colleagues who know us well – our boss, our peers and direct reports.

Usually, but not always, that feedback is in a highly structured written form which is passed to a third party for analysis. We then receive a report telling us about our strengths and development needs. Alternatively paperless 360 feedback sessions can be arranged involving a face to face meeting between the individual and his/her colleagues.

Systems vary tremendously in their sophistication and scope. Questionnaires may ask how we perform on just a handful of dimensions or on a long list of behaviours. They may also ask how important that behaviour is in our current job. Many companies design their feedback to take account of corporate values and competencies whilst others use a more generic approach. Another difference is how the feedback system fits with the staff development and performance management frameworks.

In some organisations 360 is mandatory for senior managers while for others the scheme is voluntary. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. A mandatory system can show that the organisation is serious about managing performance and/or developing people but could be threatening to some individuals who may therefore dismiss the information received. A voluntary scheme has the advantage that those who engage with it are likely to gain a lot from it whereas people who may be in greater need of developing their skills may not!

What are the benefits of 360 degree feedback?

Good 360 degree feedback will clearly show where an individual?s strengths and development needs lie. With luck it will also relate these to the job profile so that the individual can see how well their talents are being utilised and whether there are any skills gaps. Although not all 360 systems require the report to be shared with the manager, many do and the report can form the basis of a valuable dialogue. This may focus on how the job can be better tailored to the individual?s existing skills and how learning opportunities can be created to build new ones. The report may also provide the basis of a personal development plan or the foundation for work within a learning set.

At an organisational level 360 can be a useful tool in creating a feedback culture, encouraging dialogue and improving communication.

Supporting the individual

"There?s no such thing as failure only feedback"

Most important in all this is the level of support given to the individual going through the process. Where the scheme does not specify who to ask for feedback, individuals sometimes need help to think through who they should best approach. But most important is to have someone to talk to about the results. Although these often coincide with the individual?s self-perception there are often areas of variance and these may come as a real shock. So the individual needs someone to talk to who could be a manager, someone from the HR team or a coach. Senior executives will normally want to employ the services of a coach from outside the organisation who can help them work through the findings, what they mean and what?s to be done about them.

Brefi Group offers on-line self completion training needs analysis that can be developed with custom designed questionnaires into an automated 360 degree feedback system to suit the needs of individual organisations.

Carol Newland


SPECIAL OFFER: Effective Consulting magazine.

CorporateCoach subscriber Carol Harris has offered fellow readers a way to save 33. Carol edits Effective Consulting magazine, which is being offered to readers of CorporateCoach at a discounted price of 15.

Effective Consulting is an international magazine for consultants or anyone who provides information, advice or operational support to others. Subjects to be covered in the next issue include internal consultancy, networking, organisational culture and a feature on personal image.

To subscribe, visit www.effectiveconsulting.org.uk and use the code CC15.


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Brefi Group provides corporate coaching, consultancy, facilitation and training. We can also advise you an your Internet strategy and design web sites.

We hope you enjoyed this issue of CorporateCoach. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together, then please contact me, Richard Winfield:

Telephone: +44 (0) 7970 891 343
E-mail: rwinfield@brefigroup.co.uk