Competencies during 360-degree assessment feedback coaching. A client’s present state, level of understanding of the feedback report, session preparation and readiness for feedback all contribute to the agenda he or she sets in a 360-degree feedback session. When I ask clients what they want to focus on in these sessions, one of the answers I hear most frequently is, “I just want you to help me figure out what I need to work on.” Following a general answer like this, the client and I spend time exploring what a successful session would look like and how to make it most meaningful. Once the outcome is clear, these sessions frequently follow a rather typical interpretation process: • In partnership, the coach and client examine feedback data patterns and trends across rater groups. • The coach supports the client to reach conclusions about the data and pinpoint the most meaningful and relevant area(s) for development or expansion. • The session continues with exploring actions to address the pinpointed areas and ends with an after-session plan of action. 30 Coaching World However, if a client wants to begin a session by addressing a personal issue or focus on personal development planning, it is a positive place to start. Interpretation of feedback data can always occur during the discussion, just not when the session begins. Take Robert’s case. Although he wanted to focus on managing stress, during the session numerous opportunities arose to explore the feedback report and written comments by rater groups. For example, when I encouraged Robert to review the extra copy of the feedback report for stressrelated items and comments, he centered on the following comment from his supervisor: “Robert can be more effective by taking time out during his day to manage by walking around.’’ This comment opened up an energy-driven discussion in which Robert explored how physical movement might reduce stress. As in all coaching partnerships, safety, security and confidentiality are critical to the success of 360-degree feedback coaching. In addition, 360-degree feedback coaches demonstrate specific qualifications, expertise and experience with both the assessment instrument they use, and in guiding the client to greater self-awareness and actions that yield results. Assessment Instrument Proficiency Effective 360-degree feedback coaches know the framework or model on which the particular assessment is based. They may explain and discuss the data presentation displays, numeric scales, normative comparisons, formats of the replies to openended questions and other aspects of the feedback report. For example, a coach may be meeting with a senior leader who is uncomfortable receiving assessment results. The leader challenges the assessment instrument and data displays, particularly the comparison of personal data with normative data. Clarifying normative data sources and discussing how a leader’s data compares to a normative group typically offers new perspectives in leadership. Leaders often make valuable self-awareness shifts when they compare themselves to others. By addressing a leader’s concerns about the instrument, coaches and leaders have greater opportunity to examine feedback data openly and productively. Coaching Proficiency Most publishers of commercial assessment instruments require feedback coaches to become certified to administer and facilitate the interpretation process. Once certified, coaches who connect the ICF Core Competencies with 360-degree assessment feedback sessions are poised for success. Skilled and experienced 360-degree feedback coaches demonstrate the ICF Core Competencies in the ways outlined in the table on the previous page. Interpretation Session Proficiency Because 360-degree feedback coaching is typically time-bound, time management is important for a successful session. Shorter feedback coaching sessions require greater attention to session pacing than longer or multiple sessions. In a onehour session, it is not uncommon for the coach and client to revisit, reconfirm and/or revise the coaching agreement based on the time to keep the session on track. Coaches are keenly aware that capitalizing on ICF’s Core Competencies increases client learning and positive coaching outcomes. By connecting these same competencies to 360-degree feedback discussions, we increase the power of coaching for even greater client gains.