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Client Case 4: Verbatim 360-Degree Feedback for Top Management in a Global Manufacturing Firm

The Challenge

The Group CEO of a global manufacturing firm had targeted three of his top executives for further leadership development and growth. A suite of developmental activities including 360-degree feedback, leadership courses, and executive coaching had been selected as part of their growth plan. However, after several years, the CEO was not sure if the leadership development initiatives were addressing the right issues or highlighting the right challenges for each of his executives. The 360-degree feedback exercise in particular, seemed to be churning out the same results each year without producing the outcomes he expected. While he wasn’t sure exactly what type of development was required for each individual, it was clear that the conventional 360-degree feedback was not uncovering the real business issues.

The three executives in question were the Head of Sales, the Head of Strategy, and the Head of a recent joint-venture (JV) organization. Each of these executives were based in different geographic locations and faced very different leadership and business challenges.

Linkage Asia’s Solution

Linkage Asia had administered many conventional quantitative 360-degree feedback solutions for clients and understood that while it was useful and relevant for some, it could not uncover complex leadership issues for very senior executives. Conventional 360-degree feedback could only show the level of proficiency of specific behavioural competencies in the form of quantitative ratings. For example, these ratings would tell the leader how frequent, or how well he demonstrated such competencies. Whether it was an off-the-shelf tool, or  a customized tool, quantitative 360-degree feedback had its limitations.

Linkage Asia’s approach then was to design a 360-degree process whereby the benefits of multi-rater feedback could be tapped, and at the same time deal with the shortcomings of not being rigorous enough. Thus “verbatim” 360 feedback was recommended to the client. Instead of administering a questionnaire or survey for raters to complete, Linkage consultants personally interviewed each rater one-on-one to get detailed commentary on each respective leader. These comments and advice from raters to leader was then compiled into a detailed qualitative report, which highlighted business-relevant strengths, weaknesses and other types of input for each leader. Meaningful themes rather than  mere numbers were presented in a way which the leader could intuitively understand and immediately apply where developmental planning was concerned. The 360 feedback process was then reinforced with several executive coaching sessions to ensure that the complexity of issues were addressed and dealt with effectively.

Results

The new verbatim 360-degree feedback process played a critical role in the career development for two of the three senior executives.

After receiving the feedback results and executive coaching from Linkage Asia, the Head of Sales was able to identify his strengths and the root of his problems where the growth of the market, expatriation issues, and manufacturing processes were concerned. This resulted in him taking on a new role to become the Head of Manufacturing where he became extremely competent and successful.

As a result of the verbatim 360-degree feedback, the Head of Strategy was able to accurately identify several of the key skills he needed to acquire or improve on in order to become the future CEO of the company. For example, the ability to manage multiple business units, logistics, and influencing multiple stakeholders became a priority for him. He was then able to use these skills effectively when he was rotated to become country head of a North Asian country, and has since been targeted as the successor for the Asia Pacific CEO.

The head of the JV company continues in his current capacity without any changes to the role and responsibilities.