Jennifer Shipside October 16 2018

Truth Teller

Article by Jennifer Shipside focusing on the benefits of Truth Teller.

At t-three, we’re real believers in feedback, to help people recognise their strengths, and what they need to do differently to get even better. We’ve been designing bespoke 360's for our clients for years. First, we developed quick ways to pinpoint the vital few behaviours the organisation needed to embed to achieve their vision, then we measured them in classic 360-degree assessments.

The 'Self' and 'Manager' scores were always open, but traditionally, the scores and comments from others giving feedback were always clustered into anonymised groups.  This works well enough, but increasingly, as we ran 360 feedback sessions, participants were unclear about how individuals they worked with had scored them, or who’d said what in open-ended comments. This often made it difficult for them to act on the feedback.  

So we’ve developed a radical new generation of 360-degree assessments: our Truth Teller reports. Truth Teller 360's still pinpoint and measure the vital few behaviours that will make maximum contribution to the organisation achieving its business goals. There are still open-ended comments. But there’s one major difference: everyone’s feedback is open and owned, so it’s absolutely clear who scored what and who said what. Hence the name: Truth Teller.

Naturally, we trialled Truth Teller in t-three before we introduced it to clients. We discovered that being able to have a conversation afterwards, if we weren’t clear about what someone meant, was incredibly powerful. The Truth Teller format encouraged much more openness and clarity, and we were able to take specific actions to work better with particular individuals, in a way that we’d never have been able to do with our previous classic 360.

Many of our clients have since discovered the same. Liz Chiles, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development in Ealing Council, was one of the early adopters of Truth Teller, and is a confirmed fan. She says

“Truth Teller feedback feels more valuable and meaningful than our previous 360. Individuals take it more seriously. You get people saying ‘I didn’t know they thought that about me. I need to go and have a conversation with that person’. The clarity of the feedback you give is very important, because your name’s on it, so Truth Teller is raising the quality of our written feedback, and people’s responses to it.  People who’ve done it still talk about it months later – it doesn’t go into the drawer and get forgotten. I still remember in detail the feedback I got in my Truth Teller two years ago. It’s much more meaningful as a tool”.

Our experience at t-three, when we use Truth Teller before a leadership programme, is that participants are a bit surprised when they complete it for the first time, but they talk much more on the programme about the feedback they’ve received than they ever used to with a classic 360. And more of them seem to be sharing their report with their line manager. It seems that the Truth Teller format makes people take it much more seriously, so they work better with the feedback.

Most people in UK organisations get little decent feedback, and rarely get enough feedback. Truth Teller is helping change that.

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