Mr Banker

Take a good measure of questionable morale, add a dash of bonus, stir vigorously 360 degrees. The result? Goal congruence.

Goal congruence

I recently lunched with a colleague who is now at another bank, which is currently implementing its annual 360 degree review.

For those lucky enough to be unfamiliar with the 360 degree ritual I will explain. The 360 degree ceremony involves each employee nominating a group of peers and subordinates from whom feedback is sought.

This feedback is aggregated with feedback from the employee’s superior and then presented to the employee. The aggregation process blurs who said what, resulting in an effective anonymity.

Typically the first year of implementation gives mixed results. Some staff are restrained, others take the opportunity to replay, re-hash, and revenge every petty vendetta.

In year two, those who received a bucketing the previous year look for pay-back, and the review becomes a virtual bloodbath.

By year three, the Mutually-Assured-Destruction scenario outcome is painfully clear to all and an unspoken arrangement – by which everyone says nice things about everyone else – emerges.

The only shred of honest input is from the Superior, who will take advantage of an opportunity to air whatever criticism he or she likes, without any of the troublesome inconvenience of providing examples or explanation (by palming it off as feedback from others).

Anyway, discussion of the 360 degree rite over lunch with my former colleague led to a mutual recollection.

We had both worked for a chap who had presided over a collapse in morale so dire that in desperation staff had resorted to honesty in the 360.

It appears that the honesty was effective at some level, because said chap called an all-staff meeting at which he explained his concern about morale among the team (by which we assumed he’d been told by his superior to improve morale or lose his bonus).

He then outlined his strategy to address the morale issue, which was to add a team goal to each staff member’s bonus criteria so that no-one at all would receive their bonus unless the team goal was achieved.

The team goal to be achieved, was, of course, a satisfactory score for morale at the next 360 degree review. In summary therefore, staff would not receive their bonuses unless they said they were happy – whether they were or not in reality.

The original purpose of this blog was to explain “goal congruence,” a term employed by your correspondent once before. Goal congruence describes the happy situation arising when the goals of the organisation are consistent with the goals of the individuals who work in the organisation.

This is a theoretical concept rarely seen in corporate life and in fact the explanation has been delayed because your correspondent has spent six months trying to find a real life example, to no avail – until the recent lunch prodded that recollection into view.

Case closed.


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