Podcast: The What, How, and Why of Emotional Intelligence

Tune in to this episode to join Charles Rogel and Dave Long discuss the holy grail characteristic of leadership: EQ (Emotional Intelligence).

They will be diving into the what, how, and why of Emotional Intelligence, including:

  1. The definition of EQ
  2. The why behind the importance of EQ
  3. How to measure EQ and appropriate assessments
  4. How to develop and improve EQ as an individual and a leader

To learn more about increasing Emotional Intelligence with 360-Degree Feedback, visit: https://decision-wise.com/increasing-emotional-intelligence-with-360-degree-feedback/

How 360 Degree Feedback Helps Organizations

development-centered leader

For many, a 360-degree feedback assessment is a go-to tool to help individual leaders in their personal development. Indeed, millions and millions of leaders have benefited from understanding how their colleagues perceive and experience them in the workplace. Some, however, do not realize that 360-degree feedback helps organizations as an excellent data source to help leaders better understand their workforce.

To be clear, we are talking about using aggregate results only—not individual scores. Examining scores at the individual level would break confidentiality. Examining aggregated data, however, does not break confidentiality and can help us see trends as they occur across different divisions or groups.

This article will explore how talent professionals and other leaders can use existing 360-degree feedback programs to gain insights into key organizational areas, such as their company’s culture, training opportunities, and succession planning needs.

Engaged employees

How 360 Feedback Helps Company Culture

Because organizational culture is influenced most by its leadership, aggregate 360-degree results provide unique insight into how leaders think and what matters most to them. For example, in one company we found that overall scores were high in the areas of results orientation and performance management. This translated into a culture where micromanagement was high, and innovation and creativity were low (also shown in the 360 results).

In this instance, 360-degree aggregate data was available to senior leaders to assist them in shaping company culture by helping them think through the leadership competencies that were vital to their success and those which were distracting. Senior leaders were then able to focus on establishing and measuring those competencies that mattered the most to them. As Peter Drucker would say, “What’s measured improves.” 

How 360 Feedback Defines Training Needs

The second area where aggregate 360 data can help an organization is by assisting leaders in defining training calendars and programs. When analyzing aggregate 360 results we might see, for example, that managers generally scored poorly on “Delegates both routine and critical tasks or responsibilities.”  This trend, however, may not necessarily mean that leaders need further training in delegation techniques. Instead, by looking at other competencies and behaviors in the combined reports, we learn that what we are seeing is really an indicator that managers need to learn how to better coach their direct reports and that there is a general lack of trust throughout the organization.

When analyzing multiple 360 feedback reports, rather than simply viewing individual questions, we can see a story emerge from the data. These insights can then be used to create training plans that address the latent problems that exist within most organizations.

woman reviewing her 360 results

How 360 Feedback Improves Succession Planning

Our third area centers around how 360 feedback helps organizations improve their succession planning. With succession planning, we may want to see individual scores—but be careful. Individual 360-feedback results should only be used for succession planning if participants understand up-front that their scores may be used for this purpose. Even then, individual results should only be used to confirm what the aggregate data is telling us.

With 360 feedback group data you will be able to see the characteristics of your high performers. For example, do they primarily excel at managing change? If this is the case, then identifying those that handle change well (early in their careers) may be a good way to start winnowing a field of high performers.    

On the other hand, if your established high performers generally score low on decision making, then you may need to think about how decisions are made within your hierarchy. Are leaders actually empowered to make decisions, and what other steps might be taken to shore up this weak point?


Many companies conduct 360 assessments but do not fully utilize the potential of their aggregate 360 data. We have found that some of the most powerful insights come from understanding your leadership profiles and leadership competencies, which can best be derived from group 360 data.  Also, knowing what your best leaders are doing and how that is different from your average groups can be vital.

In summary, aggregate 360 data is a rich source of organizational analytics and should be regularly analyzed to provide leaders with the data points they need to improve their culture, training, and succession planning activities.

Contributors: Charles Rogel and Matthew Wride

7 Strategies to Improve Your Organization’s Employee Relations

Most leaders intuitively understand the importance of building strong employee relations, whether that is to help retain current talent or to create an employee value proposition that attracts others to join your organization. But what exactly do we mean by the term “employee relations”? Does our definition and strategies change depending upon the context we are analyzing?

Defining Employee Relations

In one sense, the concept of employee relations describes the general attitudes employees have towards their employer. In this context, we are talking about employee perceptions, attitudes and beliefs surrounding basic concepts such as general working conditions, employee benefits, worker pay, or their organization’s social impact. Indeed, employee relations is a key component of a recent movement known as ESG investing (environmental, social, corporate governance). This entails focusing on making investments in organizations that behave ethically towards their employees, society at large, and the environment.

At a granular level, we can think of employee relations as the discrete relationships an individual employee has with their employer at various touchpoints. For example, how strong is the relationship an employee has with their supervisor, or how does an employee feel when interacting with HR? The employee experience is, therefore, the sum of these various, distinct relationships. Thus, employee relations can be both individual and collective.

Finally, the term employee relations sometimes has a different connotation when used in the context of worker movements. An example of this might be the desire on the part of employees to organize and collectively bargain. In this setting, employee relations pertains to the balance of power between an organization’s management and its workers. Additionally, employee relations describes the efforts between unions/associations and employers to maintain strong working relationships while respecting each other’s inherent differences of opinions, purposes, and perspectives.  

Employee Experience: Listening Strategies

The leaders that will succeed in the next decade are those who will commit to understanding their employee relations and then take action to improve conditions when possible. Employee relations, however, is a multi-faceted concept. Understanding the complexity requires more than an employee survey administered by HR every 18 months (although this is vital, too). Comprehensive EX listening programs use a variety of strategies to understand perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs both longitudinally throughout the year as well as hierarchically throughout the organization.

We recommend the following 7 strategies. These strategies can collectively be designed into an EX listening program to help leaders navigate their employee relations.

1. Use a formal, continuous 360 degree feedback program

A formal, continuous 360-degree feedback program will help managers understand the experience their direct reports and other coworkers are having with that manager. Continuous 360-degree programs are different than an occasional 360-degree assessment used for development purposes. In this setting, 360-degree assessments are regularly administered (somewhere between 12 – 24 months) and managed by the organization’s’ talent development team to ensure leaders have the feedback they need. These programs have the added benefit of producing aggregated data analytics to show larger trends where the organization (or pockets within the organization) are succeeding or struggling.

2. Implement quarterly, predefined pulse check-ins

Managers can receive feedback on how they are doing across various themes, metrics, and categories from quarterly, predefined pulse check-ins. These check-ins are updated quarterly but are short in nature, so they do not impose a burden on employees.

3. Look for ways to integrate performance data

Employee relations is a 50/50 proposition. Yes, we need to understand how employees feel about their experience, but leaders need to know how well employees are doing in moving the organization forward. They need to know which employees are contributing and those that need to improve their performance.

4. Use a mix of confidential and nonconfidential research as part of your EX program

An annual survey is vital because results are aggregated and confidential. This allows employees to voice their concerns without fear of reprisal. Yet, in other ways, we need to know how a specific individual feels. Consider adopting open-text questions sent directly to individuals based on a sampling algorithm. A simple question could be, “Please describe the experience you are having right now at [organization’s name].”  These answers can then be processed through robust text analytics models to help uncover themes or concerns.

5. Treat your employees as internal customers

Use customer experience (CX) style check-ins to understand how employees feel about their interactions with HR, IT, etc. A listening program can be structured to trigger feedback requests when a service event takes place.  For example, if an employee interacts with the organization’s benefits portal, a pop-up can be inserted that requests feedback, such as “Tell us how we are doing,” followed by a feedback scale. 

6. Mine your data exhaust

Data exhaust refers to the vast amount of data that exists in current information systems that can be exported and analyzed for trends, etc.  For example, Zoom can tell you how much time your teams are spending on video calls, both internally and externally. For organizations with even more sophisticated data analytics operations, mining data exhaust can be an excellent way to understand the experience employees are having. For example, consider conducting a study on whether calendared meetings (data extracted from IT systems) are too long, too burdensome, or just right.

7. Talk with a DecisionWise Consultant

For those that work with unions or have employees considering their options in this regard, talk with a DecisionWise consultant on how to use EX insights to help manage union relationships.  We have successfully helped many clients, in conjunction with labor counsel, to understand and navigate the murky waters that exist when dealing with unions.  A strong EX listening program is vital in knowing best how to work with unions and worker movements.    

As Peter Drucker once observed, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” The key to improving employee relations is taking the time to understand the experience your employees are having. This means more than an occasional survey administered by HR. It is about implementing an always-on EX listening program that consistently provides leaders with insights that matter.

Feedback is a Gift… or is it?

I was on a phone call in which a senior manager was not, as I call it, “owning the employee feedback” from his 360-degree feedback. His organization had just gone through a 360 assessment process which involved several hundred managers. After watching many of his direct reports go through the process over several weeks, it was now his turn.

While not dismal, many of this manager’s 360 ratings were not as strong as they could (or should) have been. After spending the first 15 minutes of the scheduled 90-minute feedback coaching call discussing the nature of feedback and reaction to feedback, I sensed there was something this manager wasn’t buying. I called him out on it.

“I get the sense you’re struggling with something here,” I said, to which the individual on the other end replied, “You’re right. You told me that this 360 degree feedback is a gift, but I’m having a hard time seeing this kind of feedback as a ‘GIFT,’” he stated, sounding somewhat defeated.

I asked him the question, “Did you ask for the feedback?” “Yes,” he replied. I continued with, “And did they give it to you?”

“You can see that they did!” was his quick response. “I believe my 360 feedback is valuable, but a gift? That’s taking it a little far, isn’t it?”

In my two decades of coaching on 360 degree feedback, I had never had anyone openly question the concept that “feedback is a gift.” It took me by surprise and got me thinking. How, exactly, is employee feedback a gift? I thought back to the many managers I had coached in the past and was reminded that, although many of them claimed to appreciate feedback, a fair portion of them may not have been able to see the “gift” that was possible in feedback.

“The gift they have provided to you is the gift of choice,” I told him. He listened curiously while I outlined this concept.

360 feedback opens up four options or choices

When we receive the gift of feedback, we are presented with— gifted— choices and options we did not have previously. We now have four new choices, which would not have been possible had the multi-rater feedback not been received:

1. Accept the feedback as valid, and act on it.

360 degree feedback, or most any kind of feedback, for that matter, can often be reinforcing (telling us we are on the right track) or redirecting (telling us we need to shift direction.) Either form of feedback can help us in our course trajectory when we pay attention to the feedback and choose to act on it. This may mean making a course correction or continuing to remain on the path we are already on. This is where the individual says, “You know, you’re right, and I need to change… and here’s how I’m going to do it.”

2. Accept the feedback as valid, and choose not to act on it.

While some employee feedback may be completely accurate, sometimes choosing not to act on it is just as critical as choosing to adjust our behavior to address the feedback. For example, recognizing that an employee may not be ready for promotion, a manager may choose to hold an employee back while she is developing the necessary skills. Yet, the employee may provide feedback to the manager, via the 360 survey, that indicates she feels she is not getting opportunities for advancement. The feedback is accurate, but for the employee’s own good, and for the good of the organization, the manager chooses not to act on that feedback. In this case, even though it was identified in the 360 survey, not acting on the feedback is the best course of action. However, the feedback still sheds light on the employee’s perspective and her overall employee experience. When this is the case, the manager may choose to let the employee know that her feedback was heard, was valid, and that there are reasons why the manager has chosen not to act on it.

3. Accept the feedback as invalid, and do nothing with it.

For many, this is the “default”—to discount the employee feedback as wrong, inaccurate, or invalid. At times, this may be the correct response. Sometimes, feedback from a 360 assessment is simply not right. Much of the time, however, dismissing the feedback as invalid is a simply an ineffective defense mechanism on the part of the manager. Managers who are not adept at reflecting on the accuracy of feedback often blow an opportunity for the potential self-improvement that comes as a result of that feedback. If a manager finds herself continually repeating this pattern, a good look in the mirror may reveal the feedback hit on some important blind spots.

4. Accept the feedback without judgement, and find out more.

When working with 360 degree feedback, we often notice that the feedback provided actually raises more questions than it answers. For example, a manager may learn that some people perceive her treatment of employees as unequal. The manager doesn’t rule this possibility out (it may be accurate), but has been very careful to include all employees in decision-making. According to the feedback, this hasn’t been working in the eyes of some. This feedback opens the door to even more feedback when a manager sincerely asks, “Can you tell me more? This has been a hot button for me, and I would like to continue working on it, if it’s still a concern.”

Employee feedback is a Gift

Any (or all) of the four responses above may be appropriate at certain points. Regardless, before dismissing the feedback, recognize the gift that has been given. There are now four choices or options that did not exist previously

While the manager on the other end of the phone would likely be working through the employee feedback for the foreseeable future (it was still an emotional process), he realized that he had truly been given a gift—a gift of choice he did not previously have.

360-degree platform

VIDEO: The Influence of Managers on Employee Engagement

Engaged Employees

Download: Employee Engagement Survey

Let’s talk about our research on the Influence of Managers on Employee Engagement.

We recently conducted the largest study of its kind to compare the level of employee engagement of managers to that of their direct reports. This study included data from 22 companies, almost 19,000 employees, and 2,300 managers.

We first measured the overall level of engagement for each individual using a set of research-based anchor questions from their annual employee survey. We then grouped managers and employees according to their level of engagement into four categories: Fully Engaged, Key Contributors, Opportunity Group, and Fully Disengaged. Then we compared the level of engagement of managers to the employees they lead. 

Employee Engagement Example Graph

For the 808 managers that were Fully Engaged, we found that 36% of their employees were also Fully Engaged, 48% were Key Contributors, 12% were in the Opportunity Group, and only 3% were Fully Disengaged. 

For the 1154 managers who were Key Contributors, the level of fully engaged employees drops to 24%. So the percentage of fully engaged employees increases 50% from a Key Contributor manager to a Fully Engaged manager.

For managers in the Opportunity Group and Fully Disengaged categories, only 14% of their employees were fully engaged.

So you can see that fully engaged managers lead more engaged employees. That finding, in of itself, is not very surprising, but what is important, is that the percentage of fully engaged employees increases 163% from Opportunity Group managers and Fully Disengaged managers to Fully Engaged managers. That’s a huge difference. 

So how do you engage managers? Here are 3 best-practice recommendations:

3 Ways to Engage Managers


Employee Engagement Survey

VIDEO: The Impact of 360-Degree Feedback Coaching

Business meeting

Download: 360-Degree Feedback Survey

Watch this short video and learn more about our research on the impact 360-degree feedback coachingBy coaching, we mean sitting down with someone to debrief their 360-degree feedback results and helping them to create an action plan. For the purpose of this study, we collected feedback from 244 leaders from a Fortune 500 company with locations around the world. 

Leadership Coaching Meeting

These leaders had recently received 360-degree feedback and were provided coaching by internal HR professionals. We wanted to understand the effectiveness of the process. We asked questions about the process, the survey, and the coaching experience and here is what we found:

 94% of those that received coaching and set goals felt the 360 process was effective.

Conversely, only 34% of those who reported that they did not receive sufficient coaching felt the 360 process was effective.

Register: 360-Degree Feedback Coaching Training

This means that if you don’t provide any coaching support on your 360 feedback process, 66% of your participants will not feel that the process is effective. That is a huge waste of time and money.

So, how do you provide an excellent coaching experience? Here are three simple steps:

  1. Schedule 90 minutes to meet individually with each participant.
  2. Help the individual interpret the results by providing context for the scores and overall themes.
  3. Guide them in creating an action plan that addresses 2-3 development opportunities.

If you’d like to learn more and become certified as a 360-degree feedback coach, contact DecisionWise about our coaching training programs.

360-Degree Feedback Survey Download

Podcast: Recognizing Leadership Derailers

Manager talking with employee.


The “Recognizing Leadership Derailers” episode covers leadership derailer, 13 common leadership derailers, and the toxic combinations that we have seen when you mix them together.

Download 360-Degree Feedback Survey Sample

What is a derailer?
• Derailers are behavior CHALLENGES that undermine our results.
• A derailer is a behavior that gets in the way of optimal results.
• A derailer is not just a weakness. We all have many weaknesses that we may not need to develop to succeed. A derailer is a weakness that requires improvement if we are to realize our potential.

Listen to more podcast episodes

Podcast on iTunes 

Podcast: 11 Ways 360-degree Feedbacks Fall Short

Matthew Wride discusses 11 things to watch out for when looking to do 360-degree feedback surveys. He talks about how no process is perfect, and the 360-degree process can have some serious shortcomings when not handled effectively.

Download your 360-degree feedback survey right here.

Multi-rater feedback (or 360-degree feedback) can be a powerful tool in your employee development arsenal. If not properly implemented, it can also have some serious drawbacks. However, when those shortcomings are studied and managed, the benefits and results of a 360-degree feedback program are heightened and improved.

Listen to more podcast episodes

Podcast on iTunes