Sometimes, when creating a questionnaire for 360-degree feedback, we may take too simple an approach.
Our questionnaire might ask how Satisfied responders are with skills of the people they are assessing.
But this focus on Satisfaction alone implies a huge assumption: that the skills in question are important for everyone being assessed.
Maybe it’s true for the majority, but it could be neither fair nor useful for the rest.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that most of the people being assessed supervise the work of other staff. It’s important to know whether they Satisfactorily provide clear direction, model the best behaviors, coach effectively, etc.
But what if a few of them have no direct reports?
Responders may waste energy scratching their heads instead of giving their best feedback. “How do I answer this?” they wonder. Or “Does she have direct reports I don’t know about?” Or “Is this questionnaire a mistake?”
A practical way to avoid such confusion is to use dual scales: allowing two responses to every question.
The first scale is as you’d expect, about Satisfaction – how effective is the person? But the second is about Importance – how essential is each behavior to this person’s job?
As well as making the questionnaire more clear for responders, dual scales provide the persons being assessed, and their coaches, with information that’s more fine-tuned and actionable.
For instance, if supervisory skills shows up as an Important aspect of the person’s work, then the level of Satisfaction with their management skills is of course crucial. Low Satisfaction requires remediation.
On the other hand, a person with no direct reports will score low on Importance of supervisory skills. So the level of Satisfaction with their skills – whether high or low – is less important.
No shame, no blame.
(On the other hand, for anyone with future ambitions to supervise, low Satisfaction ratings are a useful warning about an issue worth addressing.)
Dual scales can be applied effectively to every competency from technical skills to entrepreneurship, from coaching to strategic thinking. They allow questionnaires to be more wide-ranging, while providing fine-tuned results.