No. 24

The Navigator
The Navigator Main Image
PresidentsMessageA MESSAGE FROM OSI
At OSI, we are all about better leaders and managers, now and in the future, through best practice products and services. It is our hope that the content provided in The Navigator can help enrich your knowledge and possibly teach you something new in the realm of leadership development. 
OSI has conducted over 15,000 leadership and management 360° surveys over the past several decades. We have also formed and learned from a network of senior coaches throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. This experience has provided some interesting and hopefully helpful observations as participants attempt to understand, interpret, and act on their 360 feedback. Here we list some of these observations. Some of these observations pertain specifically to our Polaris 360° survey, but most are transferable to all well developed 360° surveys - we hope you find them useful as you undoubtedly have or will have encountered 360° surveys in your career or practice.

Here are a couple of reminders we typically share with participants up front:
  • It is absolutely normal to have a range of emotions in reaction to your feedback. You might experience surprise, joy, anger, denial, relief or any combination. These are natural reactions to this very comprehensive feedback - especially if it is your first 360.
  • Your feedback should be strictly for your development. At OSI, we follow the best practice of using 360s for development and do not conduct 360 surveys for administrative or performance management purposes. 
  • Feedback IS a gift; thank the givers. It is virtually impossible to improve without feedback (and virtually impossible to do by yourself - even feedback from a mirror only provides 50% feedback on how you look!). We encourage participants to recognize those who have given you this gift by acknowledging receipt of your feedback report. We encourage participants to go public with what they have learned -- in part to model a willingness to grow as a leader, and in part to be held accountable for continued application of strengths, and continued development in areas of needed development.
  • Your feedback report is about others' perceptions of you. It may not represent your intent, or your self-perceptions, but it is important to acknowledge that, in the absence of new information or changed behavior, the scores and comments represent reality to your respondent population.
And now some food for thought when you consider your feedback:
  • Our most experienced coaches have observed that there tends to be an overemphasis on perceived negative information in 360s. Participants are much more likely to list developmental needs than key strengths. They note that being clear about who you are (not who you aren't) is just as valuable for your future as setting developmental objectives. The lesson: make sure you inventory your key strengths as a result of the feedback, not just developmental areas. You should also set some positive goals to leverage your strengths - most action plans after 360 feedback deal exclusively with competency "gaps" and neglect setting goals that leverage strengths. They also suggest a third category of competencies for consideration - hidden, or masked, competencies. These are competencies you know you have, but the lower ratings of participants indicate they are somehow hidden.
  • Some OSI coaches have observed that the use of normative data can be counterproductive - although, OSI typically does provide group or survey norms to help benchmark rater leniency or severity tendencies for items and competencies. However, when you run with the pack, you are defined by the pack. We have observed a trend in highly effective leaders (and the organizations they lead) for internal benchmarking - always striving for a personal best and measuring success based on continuous improvement against a constantly raising bar. One of our long-term clients, Nike, puts it this way, "There is no finish line!" The lesson: high performing leaders (and their organizations) are less concerned with beating the average than with a relentless pursuit of perfection. By the way, these leaders also tend to be students of leadership - they understand the importance of their competence as leaders and continuously study ways to become more effective.
  • The context for your feedback is extremely important for interpreting and weighting your competency ratings. As the late Warren Bennis, the famous leadership guru at USC, has stated, "Text without context, is pretext!" All of the competencies measured by the 360 survey have been correlated with professional and leadership success - but some are more important for certain roles and at certain times. You must put your feedback in context - what are your current challenges, what are your short and long-term career goals? You might even ask the question my results indicate I am in the right job? Answers to these questions can prioritize and re-order strengths and suggest possible developmental or career paths.
  • Feedback is a necessary part of growth - but without accountability it is much less likely to lead to improvement. Different individuals hold themselves accountable with different tools or techniques. Some use coaches; others contract with their boss, peers and staff; and some set developmental goals in the context of their performance management system. Bob Power, a seasoned OSI coach, and the author of a book on personal change, offers these keys to successful change:
    • Don't overwhelm yourself. Choose one competency and a few very specific behaviors to begin with. Include leveraging your strengths.
    • Don't do it alone. Let others know what you intend to change. The lessons from dieters and smoke-enders apply: those that try to quit alone are MUCH less likely to make a change than those who involve others and get support.
    • Set specific goals, envision your preferred future behavior, list the action steps you will need to accomplish to reach your goals, identify obstacles, and MOST IMPORTANTLY identify key motivators. Why would you want to change? What is in it for you? Without an identified motivation, change will be much more difficult.
One final note of caution regarding 360s. We have noticed an occasional tendency to occasionally think of 360s as THE major component of a survey-guided development effort. Of course, they're not. They are merely the diagnostic phase of a process that might take months or years (like an x-ray or MRI at the front of a physical). We often call them 20% of the process, with the other 80% being the feedback, action planning, follow up, and re-survey to check on improvement. This sounds obvious, but we've seen major efforts fall far short of expectations as 360s are administered with very little thought to the feedback, coaching, and follow up needed to ensure understanding, ownership, and action. Let us know your thoughts on this now staple process in leadership development!
Welcome to the Newest Members of the Polaris® Family

OSI is pleased to announce Paper Excellence and Young's Market Company as the newest members to the Polaris® License Community.

Additionally, we we like to welcome Scott Liang from Port of San Diego, Amanda Flanagan from Young's Market Company, and Leigh Hodges from Innate Consulting Pty Ltd as the newest members of the Polaris® Certified Community.
OSI Happenings
We've been keeping busy with many new and recurring client projects; as OSI, in collaboration with Whole Works Consulting have just finished another customized business simulation with Starwood Hotel and Resorts in New York. Additionally, we are looking forward to delivering another Paper Nation business simulation with our strategic partner, Touchstone Consulting, in Vancouver, Canada this October. 
Crystal Celebrates 16 Years at OSI
This month we are excited to celebrate our Operations/Product Manager, Crystal Matsuura's 16th anniversary at OSI. During her time here, Crystal has significantly contributed to OSI's success - through her attention to detail, customer service, and high work standards. We thank her for her dedication and loyalty and look forward to many more years with her.

Co-authored by our very own president/senior consultant, Bruce Griffiths, and our business partner, Enrique Washington. Competencies at Work is a thorough, yet digestible look at contemporary competency modeling. It will equip readers to understand, build, and implement competency models as a foundational and integrating element in talent management systems. Readers will understand how competency models have evolved to be the current best-practice in defining criteria for all talent management applications such as selection interviews, promotion panels, assessment centers, job descriptions, and learning objectives. The book also provides specific guidance in the steps needed to establish a sustainable model, with research results on universal competencies contained in most contemporary models.

Competencies at Work is available now through Business Expert Press.
OSI 30 Years
At Organization Systems International, we are celebrating over 30 years of quality, service, and innovation. We deliver client success with a high-performance approach designed to enhance occupational relationships, improve operational efficiency, and sustain customer relationships.

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Blizzard Entertainment
Bowling Green State University
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GE Capital
Insurance Company of the West
Johns Lyng Group
Lawrence Livermore National Labs
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Nike, Inc.
Portland State University
Schneider Trucking Company
Standard Insurance Company
Starwood Hotels & Resorts
State Auto Insurance
The Walt Disney Company
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