360 Feedback Working On Your Weaker Foot‘All left foot’ is a football cliché you may have heard before. If you haven’t heard it, in a nutshell it means a player who only uses their left foot to play the ball. It’s become a cliché, mainly because left-footed players are relatively rare and many of them rely heavily on their dominant foot. When the cliché is uttered, it’s usually to criticise the player for refusing to teach himself to use his lesser foot to better effect.
Many right-footed players play entire training matches with their ‘other’ foot in order to build its effectiveness, so many ask why left footed players don’t do likewise. The response is often to point to some of the best left-footed players in the game and say ‘they don’t need to work on the other foot, the left is already enough’.
The Training Debate
It often sparks a debate in football between two training schools. A debate that may resonate with HR and development professionals. The question asked is ‘is it better to work on weaknesses and make yourself more of an all-rounder?’ or ‘Should you simply focus on making your strengths even stronger?’
With effective 360 feedback, employees get a very clear view on their strengths and their weaknesses. The system is designed to assist in building development plans and plotting a career path. The natural instinct is to take the perceived weaknesses or ‘areas for development’ and work on them. The question is, is that the right way to use that information?
Jack-Of-All-Trades Or Master Of One?
If you have an employee who is outstanding in one given area, be it project management or man-management, should you make them spend time learning to improve presentation skills or communication so they are more rounded? Or let them become the very best project managers you can create?
The answer may not be straightforward. It will of course be beneficial to have real experts in your organisation, but what happens if one of those experts has to step into a more senior role? Might they be left without a fundamental part of their education? Will the employee feel as though their development is affected by inadequate training?
On the other hand, if your staff and leadership is full of good all-rounders with no outstanding experts, will that inhibit the business’ success?
Perhaps the most pragmatic approach is to develop people just to meet the needs of their role or the role that they aspire to and not try to make them good at everything. This way they need only develop necessary skills whilst playing to their strengths.
The Flexibility of Feedback
Ultimately, it will come down to business needs. Every organisation will have its own ideas on development policy. What is clear however, is the flexibility of information available from 360 feedback. Depending on how you want to use it, that feedback info can help you to create great all-rounders, or the best left-footed players in the game.
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