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Background for Interpreting the Panoramic Feedback Group Report

The Report is based on Behaviors, not Headings

The 360-degree feedback questionnaire consists of Behavior questions that are grouped for convenience under certain Headings. Typically, the Headings represent the core competencies or values of the organization, but the Headings are not directly rated by Responders.

Instead, Responders reply to individual questions in the survey which describe certain valued Behaviors. They rate Subjects on the extent to which they demonstrate those Behaviors, on a scale, for instance, of 1-to-10 or 1-to-4.

When the Panoramic Feedback system produces reports, it compiles the results of the several Behavior questions to produce a mean (average) for each Heading. So even when it reports on Headings, it is really reporting on the Behaviors that make up that Heading.

The Report is based on Subjects, not Responders

The Group Report provides you with information based on the Subjects in the Project (not the Responders). That means that wherever a mean (average) is displayed, it is an overall mean of the mean ratings calculated for each Subject.

The Group Report does not display the mean of the responses received by all Subjects, which might be slightly higher or lower. (The rationale: to base means on Responders instead of Subjects would give undue weight to those Subjects who had a higher number of Responders.)

In the Group Report, the mean and median always exclude the Self's responses, since the Self is expected to have a different view of her/his performance from that of outsiders.

Mean and Median

The "mean" in everyday language is the average (the total value of all items, divided by the number of items). The "median" is the middle result, with an equal number of results above it and below it.

Say there are five Subjects. The Heading being reported is Communication, and the scale for responses is from 1 to 10. Here are the mean ratings of the Subjects:

Subject1: 8.7

Subject2: 3.7

Subject3: 9.5

Subject4: 2.3

Subject5: 9.4

The Report would report a mean of 6.72.

But it would display a considerably higher median of 8.7.

These are very different kinds of information. The mean is valuable in that it provides a reading on the average competency of the people assessed. The mean here is a not-very-impressive 6.72. It tells you that there is work to be done in improving Communication.

The median provides additional useful information. In this case, it reveals that more than half the people assessed received very high ratings (at or above 8.7). They don't need further training or coaching, just encouragement. Those who would most benefit from help in effective communication can be identified among the smaller number of those below the median.

About Olympic Averaging Although it may have been enabled for the Subjects' reports, Olympic Averaging is never used in the Group Report since it would affect the accuracy of the results. (Olympic Averaging eliminates the highest and lowest scores from outlying Responders, to reduce the impact of unfair assessments.)

High and low ratings

When displaying bargraphs, you may wish to display the highest and the lowest mean rating received by Subjects. Small triangles placed on the bars of the graph represent these high and low extremes. The distance between the triangles is the range of the ratings for each category of Responder.

For instance, say there are five Subjects again. The Heading being reported is Communication, and the scale for responses is from 1 to 10. Here are the mean scores:

Subject1: 8.7.

Subject2: 3.7.

Subject3: 9.5.

Subject4: 2.3.

Subject5: 9.4.

The Report would place the "low" triangle on the bargraph at 2.3 and the "high" triangle at 9.5. These high and low indicators can provide valuable information.

But because there is no range of replies that is "good" in any absolute sense, you will want to consider the ratings range in the context of the entire Report.

A smaller range suggests that most Subjects are seen by Responders as having approximately the same skill level, and suggests that if further training or development is needed, it should probably be available to all Subjects.

A larger range suggests a wide variation in skill levels. You may choose to offer coaching or training to particular individuals who would most benefit from them. The extent of the range for this example is 7.2, which is a relatively large range.

(You can also view the range for each Heading, summarized numerically. See the description of the table-format sections, above. Table-format results show the low and high, and the spread (or "range") between them in numerical form.)

Standard Deviation

The means and medians that appear in your Report provide specialized pictures of the results. But they do not give you specific information about the extent of variation among the ratings for each Subject.

Standard deviation (SD) measures how much the results for various Subjects deviate from the mean (the average rating for the group). For instance, a low SD (say 0.7) tells you that most results were close to the mean. A higher SD (say 8.7) tells you that they were spread out over a greater range.

If the SD is 0.0, it means that all the Subjects had identical results. (In practice, this is because there is only one Subject in the group being reported on.)

There are no absolute values for SDs that are "high" or "low". Identify SDs as high or low relative to other SD values in your report. (Longer rating scales -- for instance, 1-to-10 -- will produce a higher range of SDs than shorter scales -- for instance, 1-to-4.)

Studying the SD can lead to positive action.

Example: If you see that the SDs are generally high, you know that there are widely differing views on the skills of the various Subjects. This might make you curious. It tells you that few of the ratings are clustered near the mean. They are spread out; some considerably higher, some considerably lower.

This would lead you to further analysis of the data, assisted by the Group Report, to discover which groups of employees will benefit most from in-depth targeted training or coaching.

On the other hand, if the SD is low, you know that most people hold similar views, and that a non-targeted, workplace-wide learning initiative could be more effective and cost-effective.