The Advantages of Taking a “Pulse” of Behavior Change Followed by 360-Degree Feedback

September 21, 2016 by Sandra Mashihi

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

-Will Rogers

Tracking and monitoring progress on development plans is essential for sustaining new behavior over time. It is important to continuously seek feedback from others to see how a participant is progressing in their targeted goal.

Research by Goldsmith (2006) on 8,208 leaders over an 18-month period shows the importance of follow-up with others (e.g., direct reports, peers and their managers):

  • 53 percent of the leaders who did not follow-up were rated as unchanged or less effective
  • 66 percent of the leaders who did “a little follow-up” showed improvement
  • 95 percent of the leaders who did “a lot of follow-up” were rated as dramatically improved

Sometimes it is too early to conduct another full 360-degree feedback assessment or not feasible to do so. In such cases, the use of “mini-surveys” can be quite helpful in gathering quick feedback about whether others see clients improving, staying the same, or even getting worse on targeted competencies that have been a part of their development plan.

At Envisia Learning, Inc., we offer for each of our assessments a mini-survey called ProgressPulse that allows participants to gather information about their progress one or more of their developmental goals, using an effectiveness scale targeted to a specific competency. We allow participants to go out and solicit feedback from the original 360-degree rater pool or add new raters.

These raters are simply asked to evaluate how effective the participant is on the competency being evaluated, as well as providing an open-ended comment to support the rating: During the last few months since you provided earlier feedback, how effective is the person on the competency defined below?

-2: Much Less Effective

-1: Slightly Less Effective

0: Unchanged +1: Slightly More Effective

+2: Much More Effective

NO: Not Observable Comment:

What could this person do more, less, or differently to continue becoming effective in the competency they have attempted to work on? The results from the ProgressPulse are summarized in a brief online report that provides a useful metric of effectiveness or improvement on the participant’s developmental goals. Such feedback can be useful for additional development planning efforts.

Coach’s Critique:

A common approach of many organizations and implementers of 360-degree feedback is that they tend to withdraw from continuing goal setting once feedback has been given and awareness has been established for participants. This “diagnos and adios” approach does that they. Beyond that,  even some of those that promote working on development plans tend to neglect to tracking behavioral change and improvement.

We all know that is very difficult to change our behaviors. Research shows that the development of expertise in a complex activity requires at least 10 years and/or 10,000 hours of deliberate practice (Ericsson, K., 2006). Other research suggests that the number of days it takes for a new behavior to become “automatic” depends on its complexity (e.g. new eating habits 65 days, and exercise 91 days) (Lally et a., 2009). So, for most people it takes three months of constant practice before a more complicated, new behavior gets set in our neural pathways as something we are comfortable with.

So, given the difficulty of what it takes to change behaviors, shouldn’t people be assessed with how they are doing along the way? Anders Ericsson reported in the Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance in 2006 that great performance comes from two things: (1) regularly obtaining concrete and constructive feedback and (2) Deliberate practice. Therefore, participants working and practicing new behaviors need to know how they are doing along the way.

The challenge for many organizations that do not pursue progress tracking is that implementing an entire 360 again is time-consuming, unnecessary and often unfeasible. So, for this very reason a mini survey that contains questions that ONLY target development areas and efforts is extremely beneficial. It essentially takes a pulse of improvement. In many cases, getting a “pulse” is all that is needed to further pursue change efforts.

What do you see as the advantages of using mini-surveys in your coaching work to measure behavior change and enhanced effectiveness of your client on one or more specific goals they are working on?


Dr. Sandra Mashihi is a senior consultant with Envisia Learning, Inc. She has extensive experience in sales training, behavioral assessments and executive coaching. Prior to working at Envisia Learning, Inc., She was an internal Organizational Development Consultant at Marcus & Millichap where she was responsible for initiatives within training & development and recruiting.. Sandra received her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from University of California, Los Angeles and received her Master of Science and Doctorate in Organizational Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology.

Posted in 360 Degree Feedback

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