Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Who and what is Thornhill Associates?

Thornhill Associates is an independent provider that provides online 360 degree feedback services to clients who wish to conduct 360 degree assessments. Clients include companies who wish to provide their employees with the opportunity of obtaining anonymous behavioural feedback, often as part of a leadership development training programme or company performance evaluations, or as a private consultant or coach who would like to provide the service to a client.

How does the 360 degree process work?

Thornhill Associates sends participants an initial email (and later reminder emails) with detailed instructions on how to complete a self-assessment online, and how to invite raters to participate in providing you with feedback. Once you have invited raters, and completed your self-response, and after the reply-by date given in your email, a report will be automatically generated after summarising the views of all your raters.

What is the value in participating in a 360 degree feedback process?

Business leaders and managers are able to become more effective in achieving their goals when they gain insight into what they are doing well and what they still need to learn to do well.

How others perceive us can contribute valuably to this insight, but research has shown that most of us are quite poor at accurately recognising how we come across to others.

The Thornhill 360 degree feedback system allows people to gather information about themselves online, through a self-questionnaire and a questionnaire sent to others, in a professional way that allows for anonymity. It is called 360 degree feedback because it invites comprehensive feedback from people all around you in your work context – yourself, those who report to you, peers, customers and your manager/s.

Will my feedback be anonymous?

The Thornhill system combines your feedback with that of others in a way that protects your identity. Your feedback will be anonymous unless the correspondence you receive indicates otherwise, or you are given the option to waive your anonymity and you choose to do so.

Thornhill Associates is dedicated to collecting and collating high-quality confidential feedback based on informed consent. As such, ensuring the privacy of participants and raters, and the confidentiality of the information they provide, is vital to us.

Who gives the participant feedback on his/her 360 degree profile?

Thornhill provides the 360 degree feedback service to client companies or coaches, who give the feedback to the participants. We do try in our reports to explain the results clearly, but they should be explained and interpreted personally to avoid any misunderstanding. We rely on our clients to use our service appropriately and with due concern for the welfare of participants. Thornhill provides feedback coaching services and training if required.

Are Thornhill questionnaires standardised?

To date, Thornhill has preferred not to use standardised tests (although the Thornhill software can be used to offer any type of questionnaire online). Typically we offer non-standard behavioural questionnaires for two reasons.

Firstly, we have worked with customised questionnaires, which by definition change every time they are altered, and so cannot be standardised in the sense that formal psychometric instruments are.

Secondly, we have focused on behavioural descriptions of actual performance, rather than underlying traits. This is why our reports focus more on the individual item results than the dimensions in which they fall. Customised behavioural descriptors meet the requirements of performance-based management development better in most cases than do psychometric tests, or offer a complementary insight alongside psychometric tests. Ideally, the kind of 360 degree feedback made possible by the Thornhill system should be used alongside other perspectives such as psychometric testing, self-reflection and direct observation methods such as assessment centres. This combination provides a very powerful basis for effective executive development. We would be delighted to share our experience in this with you.

Can the Thornhill 360 be used for performance appraisals?

Technically there is no problem with using the Thornhill system, or any of our existing questionnaires, for performance appraisals. Ethically though, great care should be taken to ensure that the participants, and raters, understand the purpose for which the information will be used. We have found that the collaborative relationship created in a management development context works well for 360 degree feedback, whereas the competitive relationship often implied by performance appraisals makes the use of peer feedback much more delicate. The data-collection, and especially the feedback facilitation, needs to be handled with great care. We ask that any client wishing to use our 360 degree feedback system clarify the purpose before we design the process together.

Can the Thornhill system be used to assess a group of people in different countries?

The online nature of the Thornhill system means it can be used simultaneously in any part of the world where participants have access to the internet. Reports are accessed online too, so they can be generated anywhere. The server is available 24/7.

I am confused by the terminology! What do client, client administrator, administration, participant and rater mean?

See the definitions below, as well as the diagram that gives an idea of the relationship between the concepts.

Client:

By client we mean the coach, organisation or company who has asked Thornhill to administer questionnaires for one or more of its personnel. It does not refer to individuals who are completing questionnaires or receiving feedback – these are referred to as raters and participants respectively.

Client administrator:

This refers to the individual at the organisation or company that has asked Thornhill to administer questionnaires, who is responsible for the administration/implementation and running of the process.

Administration:

As a participant, you would typically be part of one administration, where questionnaires are distributed for a particular defined purpose/project/programme.

An administration refers to a single project belonging to a particular client. A client can have many administrations, corresponding to different projects where multi-rater feedback is required (that is, feedback from many people).

Participant:

A participant is a single person who is receiving feedback from multiple raters (multi-rater). The feedback from all the raters is combined into a report. The participants can thus be thought of as the people who will each receive an individual report.

Rater:

A rater is a person who is completing a questionnaire, providing feedback to a particular participant. He/she could be anyone, and need not even be part of the same organisation as the participant.

Terminology Graph:

Questions about accessing the website / questionnaire

I have tried accessing the questionnaire by clicking on the URL but have been unsuccessful. What do I do now?

If this happens please do the following:

      1. Try and access the link at a later stage. Sometimes a break in connection occurs and allowing time between attempts will solve the problem.
      2. If the link does not work as a click-through, please cut and paste it into the address line of your browser. If this does not work, please ascertain whether you are able to access the internet at all, by trying www.google.com for example – it may be that you have lost internet connection altogether in which case you will need to contact your IT department for assistance.
      3. Sometimes security barriers on internet browsers will not allow access to unknown websites – this might prevent you from getting through to the Thornhill server. If you suspect that this might be the case, please contact your IT department for assistance.
I am being asked for a proxy user name and password - what should I do?

This might be because of security barriers on your browser that have been set by your IT department. Please contact them for assistance.

One of my raters has informed me that they do not have internet access - what should I do?

Firstly, ask whether he/she could gain internet access from a colleague’s computer. If so, please tell them to copy the URL link exactly as it appears in the email they received. Enter that exact URL link in to the address line of the internet browser of the computer with internet access and this will take him/her directly to the questionnaire your rater has been asked to complete.

If this is not a possibility, please contact the client administrator whose details are given towards the end of the email you received, to determine whether they may be able to assist you. Although Thornhill Associates is an entirely internet based company and as such questionnaires need to be completed online, the client administrator may be able to provide a manual option to complete the questionnaire.

I'm trying to provide feedback to a colleague, as requested by email. Where do I find the questionnaire?

The email you received contains a unique URL link – which is an internet address that begins as follows:

 

The whole address should appear on one line. By clicking on it you should be taken directly to the beginning of the questionnaire you have been asked to complete. If clicking on the link does not work, please cut and paste it into the address line of your browser. If this does not work, please ascertain whether you are able to access the internet at all, by trying www.google.com for example – it may be that you have lost internet connection altogether in which case you will need to contact your IT department for assistance. You may also need to contact your IT department if you suspect that you have strict security barriers on your internet browser that prevent you from accessing unknown websites.

Questions about reports

How many responses do I need to generate a report?

At least three people (other than you) need to provide feedback before a report can be generated.

The more responses you receive however, the more likely you are to generate a rich report. Your self-assessment is also very important, as it will allow you to compare your view of your strengths and areas for growth, with those of your raters.

Why is my report not showing a particular category/group of raters?

The report is able to distinguish between groups of raters (peers, direct reports, other) only if there are at least three raters that have responded per category. This is in order to protect the anonymity of the raters.

If there are not enough responses per rater group, the system will not generate subgroup graphs for that group, and that group’s responses will be included in the average of all the non-self responses.

Why is the category of "manager" not appearing separately in my report?

A manager has the option to allow their response to be reported separately. When a rater selects the “manager” group on the first page of the questionnaire, a window pops up explaining that the manager’s view is particularly valuable, and gives the manager the choice to waive anonymity – to have his/her response reported separately.

If one or two managers choose not to waive anonymity, then the responses of the manager who waived anonymity will not be shown separately, as this may jeopardise the anonymity of the other managers.

Questions about inviting and tracking feedback

Who should I ask for feedback?

It is best to select people whom you believe will provide honest and constructive feedback, and who ultimately have your best interests at heart. Also try to select a range of people whose views will represent various different, but frequent, interactions and experiences with you.

You may select as many raters as you like, but naturally the more responses you receive the richer and more insightful the information appearing in your report is likely to be. We would recommend that you include your manager and at least four people who report to you, and at least four others who work with you at the same level. Keep in mind that your report will only distinguish between these groups of people if there are at least three responses from each group.

How do I enter my own raters if I have been asked to do so?

To add your raters, and complete the questionnaire yourself, just click on the URL link in the email you received. Follow the instructions that come up on the screen and please add all your raters at the same time. Once you have added all your raters and entered their email addresses the system will show a “send emails button”. Double-check to see that you have entered each rater’s email address correctly before clicking on this button. As soon as you do, the Thornhill system will automatically send your raters an email explaining that you have selected them to give you feedback and asking them to complete a questionnaire for you online. Next you will be asked to complete your self-assessment.

Why do I need to complete a self-response?

Completing your self-assessment will allow you the chance to honestly reflect on your strengths and areas for development as you perceive them, and this will give you a basis from which to compare the feedback you receive from your raters. It is also a way in which you can familiarise yourself with the questions that your raters will be answering.

How do I know that the feedback I have provided has been received?

Once you have completed the questionnaire and clicked on the “Submit Answers” button, you will have received a message on the next screen which said “Thank you, your responses have been received”.

Can I complete the questionnaire in stages?

Unfortunately it is not possible to submit the answers to a questionnaire in stages. You will need to complete the whole questionnaire at once. Our standard questionnaires usually take between 15 and 20 minutes to complete.

After completing the whole questionnaire you will need to click on the “Submit Answers” button to receive a message on the next screen which will say “Thank you, your responses have been received”, before exiting from the questionnaire – this way you can be sure that your feedback will be received.

Can I replace my responses?

Yes, you can, by clicking on the URL link in the email you received. You will be asked whether you would like to replace your responses. Please note that if you answer yes, you will need to complete the questionnaire in its entirety again.

How can I find out how many of my raters have already submitted feedback?

If you had to forward the initial email you received to your raters yourself, you will receive a list of the responses that you have received before the deadline date by way of reminder emails.

If you had to enter the details of your chosen raters online yourself, you may, at any stage, obtain an update of the raters who have responded by clicking on the URL link in the initial (or reminder) emails you received.

I have missed the reply-by date - what should I do?

Please contact the client administrator to inform them of your situation. This is the person from whom the emails you received were addressed.