Headlines: June 21st, 2007



The National School for Government, the Civil Service staff college, has devised a 360 degree feedback tool to help leaders to identify their development needs. The tool, which is based on self reporting and the reports of stakeholders, offers participants an opportunity to test how others perceive their leadership behaviour in the team and to compare their own work priorities and others’ expectations.

The tool is designed around the Cabinet Secretary’s new framework of leadership expectations and the requirements of Professional Skills for Government. It analyses a participant’s performance in five key areas of striving, communicating, helping, observing and results.

In addition to a detailed numerical and graphical report, participants typically receive an insight into how others perceive their leadership style, a ‘survey’ of work areas considered most crucial by their manager and colleagues, and written comments about their leadership impact. The tool is always supported by a confidential one-to-one coaching interview in which participants are helped to compare others’ perceptions with their own, with all facilitators conducting interviews approved by the National School. Training and development needs can be identified readily from the results of the feedback and the organisation can also benefit by taking advantage of underused strengths and spotting any overall skill shortages.

360 degree feedback first appeared in the US armed forces in the 1940s, but progress of the technique was hampered by the need to collect and collate the feedback in paper-based systems. Technology has removed the data handling problem and Internet-based services have become the norm, with a growing menu of useful features such as comparative and aggregate reporting.