SurveyConnect Normative 360 Feedback Competency Analysis

By Marcie Levine

Customers occasionally ask for normative data for their 360 degree feedback deployments.  They want to see how the responses provided for their leaders compare to leaders in other organizations.  Is there consistency between their leaders and leaders in other organizations?  This analysis can be one step towards understanding their leaders’ strengths and opportunities in a competitive marketplace.

Over time, I too have been interested in understanding if there is some consistency in the 360 feedback ratings amongst our customers who deploy 360 assessments.  Since each of our customers designs their own assessments, the questions from one organization to another are always different.  There are, however, some common competencies that many assessments have in common.  I selected 168 questions used in various 360s, and rolled them into 20 competencies/categories (listed below):

List of Competencies
ChangeManaging People
Continuous ImprovementResilience
Customer FocusResults
IntegrityConflict Management

I have completed some normative analysis for these categories for the past two years.  Last summer, I took a sample of about 1,500 participants (people being rated), and about 11,000 ratings for those 1,500 participants, and analyzed the data in these 20 different categories.   Then, this summer I took a sample of about 1,200 participants with about 12,000 raters, and analyzed that data within the 20 categories.  Included in these samples are both private and public organizations, large and small companies, and companies in many different industries.

Note: Although there is a system of data analysis behind the outcome, please do not think of this as a rigorous scientific experiment, but just some trend analysis.

What I found was that the two of the top three competencies in both years included Customer Focus and Integrity; the third top competency was Resiliency in 2010 and Accountability in 2011.  On the lower side, Vision/Strategy and Managing People were low in both 2010 and 2011.  Conflict Management was one of the bottom three competencies in 2010, while Change Management was low in 2011.

Top 3 2010Top 3 2011
Customer FocusCustomer Focus
Bottom 3 2010Bottom 3 2011
Managing PeopleManaging People
Conflict ManagementChange

I believe this information to be valuable as anecdotal information for companies trying to understand whether their competencies are comparable in nature to other organizations’ competencies.  My personal belief is that if Integrity is not one of the top three competencies, then that is a red flag for the organization.  Integrity generally equals trust, and it’s hard to work on any of the other competencies without having the trust of the employees.  I am pleasantly surprised by Resilience and Accountability being in the top three competencies, and not surprised at all at the fact that Customer Focus is consistently high scoring as well.

Vision/Strategy can be low because sometimes it’s hard for the message to flow through an organization, sometimes there’s not a consistent message on vision, and sometimes the organization can be lacking an enunciated strategy.  Conflict Management is also a tough set of skills that is not always focused on in organizations.  Managing People, on the other hand – low in both years – is somewhat surprising.  If an organization is willing to put the time, money and energy into deploying 360 assessments, then hopefully they would be paying attention to the people management skills within the organization.  From my individual de-briefs, I think that the first line managers are not always provided the skill training to go from independent contributors to managing people, and while the top managers can provide great leadership to the middle management team, sometimes managerial modeling does not flow down to the next level of supervisors/managers.

Does this analysis make sense from your own perspective?

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About the author

Marcie Levine

Marcie Levine

Prior to founding SurveyConnect, Marcie had more than twelve-years of experience in HR, both as a consultant and in several corporate positions. As an HR consultant, she worked on a variety of client assignments, including the design and implementation of surveys. She created SurveyConnect to streamline and simplify the process of survey creation and administration. Marcie has published articles about 360 feedback process in trade magazines, including the International Society for Performance Improvement, Selling Power, T+D Magazine, and Quirk’s Marketing Research Review.