The Science Behind the Individual Effectiveness Survey

The science behind the Individual Effectiveness Survey

Jared Ellis avatar
Written by Jared Ellis
Updated over a week ago

What can I learn from this page?

The science behind the Individual Effectiveness Survey

Who is this guide for?

Account Admins, Survey Admins, Survey Creators

To create our Individual Effectiveness template, we did not rely on a single model or competency framework. Instead we looked to the areas of coaching psychology, learning and development and motivation science. We further completed a review of existing 360 surveys and research, identifying what has - and hasn't - worked when it comes to peer feedback (here is more on our methodology). From this grounding, Culture Amp's Individual Effectiveness (360° feedback) survey is based on five key principles:

1. No Ratings or Scores
When you first see our survey template, you'll notice there are no traditional rating or scoring questions. As a development-focused approach to 360° feedback, scores can be counterproductive to an individual's motivation to improve and grow. The template is also trying to replicate (as close as possible) a feedback conversation someone might have with their co-workers; yet providing a more time-effective and consistent way to do this.

2. Feedback is Forward and Action Focused
The questions are designed to elicit feedback that is forward focused and emphasizes action. More specifically, to help an individual answer these two questions:
1) What are the key things that I am doing well and should keep doing?
2) What are the most important things that I should focus on to make myself, my team and my organization more successful?

Phrases such as 'keep doing', 'focus on' and 'do better' encourage reinforcing or redirecting feedback. This type of feedback supports a growth mindset; helping individuals to take action on their feedback and progress.

3. Short Survey with an Emphasis on Qualitative Feedback
We believe that less is more when it comes to useful individual feedback, so the template is much shorter than most traditional 360°s. Our approach is designed to rapidly identify areas of strength and opportunities, supported by qualitative examples. This approach has benefits for anyone providing or receiving feedback.

  • For the reviewer providing feedback, there are no long lists of competencies to rate. They can quickly move through the survey and provide higher quality reinforcing and corrective feedback on the areas that matter most.

  • For the individual receiving feedback, they can quickly identify the areas they should focus on in their report without being distracted by scores or swamped by negative feedback pointing out everything they are doing badly.

4. Relevant Across Roles
The template is designed to be used across roles, regardless of level or function (including managers, executives and individual contributors). In some cases, you may choose to add questions specific to your organization - such as particular behaviors related to your values. The manager section can also be adjusted to reflect any competency areas that are specifically important for managers in your organization. As with all of our surveys, the Individual Effectiveness survey is completely customizable.

5. Written in the First Person
A small, but unique, feature of our questions is they are written in the first person (i.e. 'how do I help you to be successful' instead of 'how does this person help you to be successful'). As a result, the feedback given is often more personalised and closely reflects a conversation between the reviewer and the individual. This approach is strongly connected to our philosophy that an individual owns their feedback.

Understanding the Survey Sections

Section 1: Supporting Success
The first section contains a single open-ended question intended to solicit unprompted feedback on how an individual is supporting others to be successful.

The reason we frame it as 'supporting success' is to guide the reviewer to provide more meaningful feedback. It encourages people to consider behaviors that they believe are directly linked to success, and not simply their take on what an individual is 'good' or 'bad' at (which may be irrelevant to success).

Sections 2 & 3: Strengths and Opportunities
This section looks at specific areas of strengths and opportunities. The items in the multi-select lists are identical and in the same order to make it easier for the reviewer to process (rather than having to read an entire new list).

These items are designed to be generic and reflect what we believe to be both a) general enough to apply across an organization, regardless of role and b) the most valuable, relevant and actionable for individuals. Our items were created after a thorough a review of current and historical 360° instruments, literature in the learning and development space, and common areas that professional coaches and workplace trainers provide development in.

You can tailor the questions to reflect the most important behaviors in your organization and your own competency frameworks. However, to limit administrative burden and reporting complexity, we recommend that you keep these options as generic as possible across your company and avoid creating multiple separate surveys based on individual roles.

The ratio of selecting strengths to opportunities is set at a default of 5:3. Our brains have been shown to be wired to provide negative feedback. To combat this, we provide more opportunities for reinforcing than redirecting feedback.

The open-text questions following each multi-select section encourage the reviewer to provide specific examples of behaviors to help the individual know exactly what they could continue, change or develop.

Section 4: General
This question is an optional open-ended question to capture any additional feedback a reviewer may want to provide.

Section 5: Manager/Team Lead/Supervisor

This section is intended only for direct reports to provide feedback to their manager, team lead or supervisor. The questions are focused specifically on important people lead competencies. Those covered in the previous sections (such as communication) are not replicated, allowing this section to be short (7-10 items, or less).

About the Focus Scale:
The 'Focus' scale is our default for Effectiveness surveys. The purpose of this new scale is to enable direct reports to easily share with their manager the most important areas that they need support with. It also provides managers with a simple output on where they should focus their time and effort in order to be a more effective manager for their team.

  • 'Less focus' and 'Much less focus' - a direct report may select this if they feel that their manager is doing too much in this area. For example, less focus on 'providing feedback on how I am performing' might suggest a manager is micro-managing or being over critical of their work. These may also be selected if the area is met elsewhere and the manager spending time on this is not the best use of their time and effort. For example, much less focus on 'providing performance measures' may come from an individual who is very self-directed.

  • 'Maintain' - often selected when a direct report is satisfied with the current level of support provided by their manager in this area.

  • 'More focus' and 'Much more focus' - selected when a direct report would like to see their manager do more in the particular area. 'Removing roadblocks to our work', for example, might suggest that the direct report needs more support from their manager in navigating resource and/or people challenges in the organization.

Note: all questions have the option for respondents to provide comments for further context. The questions in this section also only cover areas specific to a manager or team lead role and are more broad and neutral (i.e. less positively skewed) than typical rating questions.

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