Me, Myself, I


You will know, last year, that I promised all senior officers would participate in a 360 degree assessment as part of their personal development programme – and to demonstrate, unequivocally, that we intend to lead by example when it comes to seeking feedback on our performance and our alignment to the organisation’s values and behaviours.

Well, the process has commenced, with my immediate team in the vanguard.

The 360 has been designed with the Future Council in mind, especially the Forward the Birmingham Way component, and it requires participants to ask the their line manager, their peers, a range of other key individuals across the organisation and a number of partners/stakeholders to complete a questionnaire that scores how we perform in relation to nine business critical areas:

  • Are we true to our word?
  • Do we act courageously?
  • Do we put citizens first?
  • Do we achieve excellence?
  • Are we shaping the future?
  • Do we demonstrate positive leadership?
  • Do we promote positive collaboration?
  • Are we raising performance?
  • Are we driving innovation and improvement?

The results are now starting to come in and I have just had my own feedback session with one of the independent assessors commissioned to deliver this initiative.

And, in the spirit of transparency, I thought you might be interested how I fared.

Whilst it is difficult to do justice to a detailed report and discussion, here are the highlights from the summary section “Most Frequent Behaviours” (All Raters) in which my five highest and lowest scoring behaviours are ranked.

Top Scoring

  • Gives their best everyday (3.86)
  • Treats people with complete respect and understanding (3.82)
  • Always treats people with kindness – the “human touch” (3.73)
  • Inspires people to act in the public interest of Birmingham (3.70)
  • Actively builds networks across and outside of the council (3.70)

Lowest Scoring

  • Identifies, attracts, develops and retains talent (2.94)
  • Promptly addresses any problems (2.91)
  • Give people ongoing feedback that helps them improve their performance (2.88)
  • Give people ongoing coaching that helps them improve their performance (2.82)
  • Promptly addresses under-performance, when needed (2.65)

The scoring system was:

  1. Almost never
  2. Sometimes
  3. Often
  4. Almost always

There was no number 5. – we are, even the most senior officers, human beings after all!

It is timely that I share these results with you in the last blog I write before I go on leave for a couple of weeks. I will relax in the sun and give much thought to what I need to do to be a better leader.

Having undertaken 360s previously, I found much of the feedback familiar – which only reminds me how hard we have to work to overcome our preferred behaviours. They are deeply rooted and long lived. But consider and address them with renewed vigour I must, for there are areas where I am not having maximum impact.

My assessor advised that I might like to think most about:

  • Being a “try hard” person – should I switch off more?
  • Challenging (under-) performance – do I take too long weighing things up before acting on them?
  • Dealing with issues – similar to the above, do I wait too long to make up my mind about how to proceed?
  • Address non-alignment – am I too tolerant of those, especially more senior colleagues, who have yet to sign up fully to Future Council and corporateness?
  • Giving more feedback and coaching to help the improvement of performance – should I stop assuming that colleagues will just “get it”?
  • Creating more thinking time – should I create more opportunities to think beautiful strategic thoughts?
  • Being clear about the priorities – am I too suggestible to new initiatives?

What do you think?

Meanwhile, Bon Voyages!



Posted on July 13, 2015, in Blog. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Thank you so much for being brave and sharing your identified areas for improvement.This is not something any Chief Executive in Birmingham has done before as far as I can remember . A good role model right from the top about humility for all however senior your role. It has given me food for thought for feedback I should seek from my own staff and colleagues….. Thanks Mark

  2. Hi Mark, A very interesting and honest post. Some time ago I cam across the concept of “Feed Forward” as an alternative to feedback. Nobody likes receiving criticism, so the idea is to talk to people about how they could better handle a particular event or problem in the future, rather than pointing out what they did wrong in the past. It’s also easier for the person giving the feedback/feedforward. Enjoy your holiday!

  3. lloyd wedgbury

    Mark it is very refreshing that you have been so open about your 360 feedback , and provides an excellent model for others to follow. How this will interplay with your senior management team will I am sure be a stimulating debate, and whether you have counterbalances amongst you. Best wishes, lloyd.

  4. Elaine Griffin

    It is refreshing to have a very senior manager who is prepared to be open about an assessment. Good to see.
    I just wish more development opportunities were open to those who would like them. Not much if you are a lowly grade 4 like myself……..

  5. Great stuff Mark

  6. An extremely open and honest blog. You have set a great example for all to follow.

    Enjoy your holiday!

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