viaPeople Insight - Performance Management & Succession Planning Blog

Karen Caruso, Ph.D.

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6 Ways to Overcome Resistance to 360 Degree Feedback

by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in 360 Degree Feedback

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Organizations seeking to implement a 360 feedback process still encounter resistance to the use of this powerful tool. Resistance can come from a variety of sources and is often associated with myths and half-truths. As I wrote in the article, Exposing the Truth About 360 Degree Feedback, poor implementation of 360 feedback can cause misinformation and distrust in the 360 feedback process.

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Understanding and Minimizing Leadership Derailment

by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Succession Planning, High Potentials


What is Leadership Derailment?

Leadership derailment can be described as being involuntarily plateaued, demoted, or terminated below the level of anticipated achievement or reaching that level only to fail unexpectedly. The term is often applied to individual leaders who had been expected to move into higher-level positions but who are unexpectedly knocked off track. An individual who has consistently been perceived to be a high performer can derail if they are unable to adapt their skills and behaviors to meet the changing demands of the role or the organization.

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You Rock! - 5 Ways to Transform Positive Performance Feedback

by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Performance Management, Employee Engagement, performance feedback

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The topic of delivering performance feedback typically focuses on how to provide constructive or critical feedback aimed at improving performance. I have written several articles aimed at offering sound practices for improving employee performance using effective performance feedback and realize that I have not appropriately addressed the importance of positive feedback. I believe that both constructive and positive feedback are critically important for high performance but for different reasons.

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Shining the Light on Bad Bosses

by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Performance Management, Upward Feedback, Improving Performance, Competency Models, Bad Bosses

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Bad Bosses Hide in Dark Corners

Why do bad bosses seem to go undetected or acknowledged by everyone except those who work for them? These menacing managers seem to hide in dark corners. It is extremely frustrating for anyone who is suffering under a bad manager that this person's poor performance or bad behavior is overlooked and tolerated by the organization. In my experience in working with senior leaders, these four reasons seem to top the list:

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Competency Model of a Bad Boss

by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Performance Management, Upward Feedback, Improving Performance, Competency Models, Bad Bosses


The next time you have a moment to spare and have grown tired of reading online news and checking social media, do a search on "characteristics of a bad boss". The lists, articles, stories and images that will surface will likely make you laugh. There is no shortage of examples of what it's like to work for a bad manager. One of my favorite lists of characteristics was published on - 31 Telltale Signs You Are A Horrible Boss. Great list - but my guess is that if you are a horrible boss you will not likely see these telltale signs in yourself.

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Product Feature Spotlight - 360 Feedback Focus Areas

by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in 360 Degree Feedback, Product Feature Spotlight

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viaPeople's 360 Degree Feedback Solution Makes It Easy to Identify Strengths and Development Needs

One of the benefits of the 360 degree feedback process, whether used to support development or as a part of the formal performance evaluation, is the opportunity for individuals to gain new insight into their key strengths and opportunities for improvement.

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Identifying and Removing Blockers Using the 9 Box Grid

by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Succession Planning, High Potentials, 9 Box

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What is a Blocker?

A blocker is an employee who is preventing or “blocking” others from moving into a key position. Key positions serve as critical steps in a career path or offer a unique set of developmental experiences required for other roles in the organization. Companies should seek to fill key positions with high performing, high potential employees. We use the term blocker to describe individuals who are performing at or above expectations in a key position however they do not want to move out of the role for a variety of reasons. The individual may enjoy the role, may not have a desire to work additional hours or relocate, or do not have an interest in learning new skills and taking on additional responsibilities. The lack of desire to take on a new role or move to a new position limits their future potential, as well as the potential of others in the organization.

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Product Feature Spotlight - Performance Rating Calibration

by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in 360 Degree Feedback, Performance Evaluation, Performance Calibration, Product Feature Spotlight

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viaPeople's Rating Calibration Feature Instantly Compares Performance Across Teams

HR software should not only make things easier but also help you to improve your processes. viaPeople's team of Industrial Organizational Psychologists have designed the Performance Rating Calibration feature to ensure consistency and fairness in the evaluation of critical performance factors. Here is how it works:

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The Ultimate Plan for Tackling Poor Employee Performance

by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Performance Management, performance feedback, Improving Performance


Addressing poor employee performance is probably one of the most stressful and least appealing aspects of being a leader. Not tackling a performance problem in its early stages is a pitfall that some managers fall into, for any number of reasons. I have heard countless reasons (excuses) why poor employee performance has been overlooked with the five most common being:

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How to Implement Upward Feedback in the Performance Appraisal Process

by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Performance Evaluation, Upward Feedback

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Integrating upward feedback into the performance appraisal process can transform the traditional review process. In a recent article, Improve Performance Appraisals with Upward Feedback, I recently wrote about the powerful benefits that can be achieved, including:

  • Increased accuracy of leadership performance ratings,
  • Improved leadership performance through targeted feedback and development plans,
  • Early identification of great/problematic leaders through objective insight, and
  • The development of a feedback-rich organizational culture.

Despite the effectiveness of upward feedback, many organizational leaders still express concerns about including feedback from direct reports in the process of evaluating leadership performance. The 3 greatest concerns that I have heard expressed by upward feedback critics are:

  1. Employee Fear of Identification – Employees will be nervous about providing candid feedback about their managers for fear that their manager will be able to identify what they said. As a result, the feedback offered by direct reports will be less than truthful and positively skewed.
  2. Lack of Skills - Most employees do not have the requisite skills to accurately rate performance and provide objective and constructive commentary. As a result, the feedback gathered from direct reports as a part of upward feedback is not accurate or helpful.
  3. Gaming the System -Managers will naturally feel anxious about receiving feedback from their direct reports on their performance and will therefore take steps to influence their ratings. They may take action to make a recent positive impression on direct reports or even offer something in exchange for ratings.

5 Tips for Effectively Implementing Upward Feedback

If implemented properly, organizations can avoid the 3 concerns described above and take full advantage of upward feedback.

  1. Build Support for the Upward Feedback Process. Provide orientation and communication to help people managers understand the benefits of upward feedback. We cannot expect people managers to be open to the process if they do not connect with the ways in which it will help them to be better leaders. When managers are open and convey a positive outlook about the process, employees will feel more comfortable in offering their feedback.
  2. Target Feedback - Employees are best able to evaluate very specific aspects of their manager's performance. As such, ask employees to offer feedback on performance criteria or competencies that they have the opportunity to observe, for example providing direction, communication, coaching, and managing performance. Read more about the specific leadership behaviors that influence employees in Leadership Competencies Impact Employee Performance - Making the Connection.
  3. Ensure Anonymity - In order to optimize the accuracy of upward feedback, employee anonymity must be protected. As in any change process, steps should be taken to communicate and reinforce anonymity in every phase of the process. Online performance management systems can make it easy for organizations to limit access rights and ensure the anonymity of data.
  4. Offer Feedback Tools - Prepare employees to offer feedback that is professional, helpful and constructive during the upward feedback process by giving them the resources they need. Consider offering training webinars and just-in-time job aids to assist employees making ratings and crafting comments. This orientation should include tips for making accurate ratings, avoiding rater biases, and guidance on how to write objective comments.
  5. Make Sure Managers Use Their Feedback - While gaining the support of people managers for implementing upward feedback is a critical first step, organizations must also equip them to understand and take action on the feedback received. If leaders do not take it to heart and work to address potential performance issues, employees will be less likely to offer helpful feedback in the future. Organizations can approach the upward feedback process in the same way they would a 360 degree feedback process.  The steps outlined in 7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your 360 Degree Feedback is a good place to start.

viaPeople's Performance Management software can make it easy for you to implement upward feedback in your company. Click below to see it in action!

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