In a 360, behavioural questions are being asked of the individual in the middle and the group of colleagues that work around that individual. So, define behaviour. Have you ever been asked to come up with your own definition of the word? Have you ever really stopped to think about it?
Well, here's the definition that we use at TLC: “Behaviour is something you do (or don't do) and/or something you say (or don't say)". That's it. I'll say it again so you know its important: “Something you do (or don't do) and/or something you say (or don't say)"
So when we write a behavioural question to go inside a 360 questionnaire, we make sure that its written in such a way that it's a ‘son of a bitch'! ‘Son of a bitch??? SOB...Specific Observable Behaviour. In other words, its something you can see the person doing (or not doing) and/or saying (or not saying). For example: “Catches people doing things right and praises them for that". If the person you are rating is good at that, it means that you've seen them actually noticing when a colleague or a member of their team has done a good piece of work (that's the ‘doing' part) and then praising them (that's the ‘saying' part).
Another example would be “Listens with the intent to understand, rather than to reply". That's one of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits, and it's a great question to put inside a 360. Listening with the intent to understand would suggest that if you were watching the listener in action, you would see them giving eye contact, leaning in, looking curious - all ‘doing' things and all highly observable. If however they were doing the opposite, they'd probably be also be ‘saying' stuff - interrupting, talking over, etc.
Just as important as getting the right SOB questions into a 360 questionnaire, so too is encouraging raters to write SOB-style comments to support their ratings in a 360. All too often, we see very brief judgemental ‘labels' being used in the written feedback. Examples such as “He's a great person" or “She's temperamental". A label like this is not going to help the participant to understand what they are specifically doing (or not doing) and/or saying (or not saying), let alone help them to either repeat the behaviour, if its positive, or develop out of that behaviour.
So, as long as their comment describes something the participant is doing (or not doing) and/or saying (or not saying) - whether that be positive or negative - it gives the participant something to work on.
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