How 360 degree feedback helps managers put human capital first

Of all the challenges facing executive teams today—broad technology upgrades, financial instability and global competition—the singular element of a business that could set it on a path toward either riches or ruin is less tangible than many might expect.

It's human capital

Earlier this year, the Conference Board's "CEO Challenges" study confirmed what many in the corner office have long known about their workforces. An engaged team of employees represents an unquestionable competitive advantage for a company, but such a pursuit is only likely to end successfully if managers properly invest in their employees.

This is a challenge that has grown even more vexing in light of external financial circumstances largely beyond the control of businesses.

"[Management] involves doing more with less, coaxing higher levels of productivity and efficiency from current staff, and ensuring that customer service focus is maintained," according to the Hay Group's analysis of the study.

During these trying times, managers may find their teams in a deep, seemingly inescapable rut. To these leaders, Inc. Magazine recommends assessing their teams to determine whether there is a sufficient level of respect among all stakeholders. When team members trust one another and "appreciate the different knowledge, skills and perspectives that each brings," they are more likely to thrive.

As part of this assessment, managers must also turn the mirror back on themselves.

Managers may believe that they are treating their employees with a sufficient level of respect when in fact their direct reports feel quite different. Through 360 degree feedback, leaders can discern how their employees feel about their performance, and then transform that feedback into actionable steps toward improvement.

Larry Cipolla