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Exploring Emotional Intelligence: Helping Managers Succeed

A Client Case Study – Part 1 of 3 – The 360 Assessment

One of Abudi Consulting Group’s (ACG) clients, a pharmaceutical organization, has been working with ACG for the last year on a project to focus efforts on increasing the emotional intelligence of a key group of mid-level managers in their organization.  ACG was brought in by senior leadership who recognized that they needed to increase the emotional intelligence levels of their management pool (mid-level managers.)
In this first part of the three past case study, we’ll focus on conducting a 360 assessment to start the initiative. The information below is presented in a sanitized, high-level overview format.


The initiative was launched by senior leadership with full support and encouragement by a new investment firm who recently invested in the pharma organization to support them through tremendous growth. It was noted by the investment firm during due diligence that a significant portion of the mid-level managers seemed to be effective technically, but had difficulty leading and engaging employees. This was reflected in a variety of ways, including:

  • A lack of alignment between employees’ skills and knowledge and the work they were doing on a day-to-day basis, which was reflected in some employees trying to do work they were not skilled to do and yet other employees working in areas in which they were overqualified.
  • Inconsistency in performance feedback, with more substantial feedback provided to employees whom managers liked.
  • Increased turnover of highly talented employees over the last two years (exit interviews showed that 8 of 10 employees who left did so because they felt neglected by their management.)
  • Regular outbursts by managers when under stress, frustrated, or when they perceived they were being challenged by their staff.

We started the initiative with a strategy around what we were going to do, and why we were doing it, as well as the ultimate end goal in order to get buy-in from throughout the organization. From an investment firm perspective, the goal was certainly not to eliminate mid-level managers from the payroll, but rather to ensure that they had the skills they needed to be successful; and, if they didn’t, there was a plan in place to get them the necessary skills to engage and lead people. Of course those managers that were unable to improve might ultimately be reassigned (if they were strong technically) or separated from the organization.

A 360 Assessment to Start

The first deliverable of our strategy was a 360 assessment. We wanted to launch a 360 assessment of all managers to better understand the group’s effectiveness in communicating with, engaging with, and developing their staff.  The goal was to use the information gleaned from the 360 to evaluate these managers across functions.

The investment firm and senior leadership would receive an overall summarized report of findings along with recommendations. The individuals being assessed would receive a summarized rolled-up, personalized report of findings.

A Challenge

A key challenge that would need to be addressed was the fact that the organization had never done a 360 assessment before. Additionally, and maybe even more importantly, we wanted to be sure that we communicated appropriately the why of the 360 assessment for those being assessed (managers.) In order to ensure the participation we needed those who were being asked to participate in the 360 assessment to feel comfortable sharing information. For them to be comfortable, they needed to understand how the information would be shared and used within the organization.

Additionally, because we perceived there were emotional intelligence issues with many of these mid-level managers, we wanted to be sure we framed any communications and interactions with this in mind (the goal was not to anger or distance the managers.)

Our Initial Communication

Our initial communication to the mid-level managers focused on the following information:

  • Sharing the reason behind the 360 assessment (the why for the project)
    • Given rapid growth, reskilling was necessary to support an increased number of direct reports
    • Providing professional development for mid-managers, most of whom had been promoted into their roles with no previous experience managing people
  • Explaining how the data gathered would be shared (reported in a rolled-up, summarized format for leadership with summarized individual reports provided to each individual being assessed)

Once we successfully engaged the majority of mid-level managers in the 360 assessment, we then moved to a general communication for all employees since we needed their participation. This communication focused on:

  • The fact that all data would be held confidential and only presented in a rolled-up, summarized format with no individual identifying information provided
  • That findings will be used to provide professional development and support for leaders to be able to more effectively lead their teams during tremendous growth

We communicated via a variety of channels, including:

  • Large group meetings
  • Department meetings
  • Focus group sessions (mixed attendees, 8 – 10 per session)
  • Casual conversations with managers
  • Email
  • One-on-one conversations (scheduled)

Launching the 360 Assessment

We launched the 360 assessment one month after announcing the initiative. During this one month time period we shared the why for this initiative, the vision for the organization, and the value of the initiative for managers and their staff.

We allocated 2 weeks to complete the assessments.

One week after launch, of the 500[1] surveys sent, we received a 25% return of completed assessments after the first week, another 300 surveys came in after week 2. We sent a reminder between week 1 and week 2. We “chased” after the remaining 75 and received 73 responses back by mid-week 3.

Part 2 of this client case study will focus on assessment results and subsequent interviews.
Part 3 will focus on the creation of the strategic plan for learning & development

[1] Combination of managers (self-assessment), their bosses, their staff, and their peers

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