360 Degree Feedback isn’t new; most employers have been deploying feedback tools for years now. 360 performance reviews have been used in every shape and form, which is why it’s all the more surprising that today we still see them being implemented in ways that add limited value – to organisations and participants alike.
By Tina Wahi and Sina Bergmann, Cubiks Germany
In today’s workplaces, 360 tools are easily administered online, but this ease of roll out can mean that less time is spent on communicating the crucial what, how and why around the initiative. In many organisations, 360 reviews are almost automatically used and administered, and it isn’t unusual for people to receive their feedback reports without any idea about what happens next.
Have you ever received a 360 feedback report with a confusing remark in it? Or one that includes aspects that don’t make much sense to you? If there was nobody to discuss it with, or the format wasn’t clearly explained, you’ll know how frustrating it can be.
HR practitioners sometimes ask whether there’s still a place for 360 Feedback in these times of instant feedback through multiple channels. From our daily experience working with people from a wide range of organizations, our answer is loud and clear – ‘yes, there absolutely is!’
‘But why?’, you may ask. Our response is that there are a number of ways in which individuals and organizations benefit from 360 Feedback.
1. It provides an opportunity for a ‘time out’, to reflect on where a person stands and whether they are aware of how they are perceived by those they work with.
2. It is a structured process for giving and receiving feedback, facilitating a fair and transparent approach to identifying strengths and development areas.
3. It creates deeper conversations about performance, involving a variety of stakeholders.
4. It supports a true feedback culture, promoting individual growth that ultimately leads to better organizational performance.
5. It supports the meaningful implementation of competency frameworks.
6. It allows organizations to review their leadership population.
In order to unlock the full value of 360 feedback tools, employers need to pay close attention to how they implement their 360s. Here’s a simple checklist of dos and don'ts to help get you started.
For a successful process, make sure that you…
Clearly define the purpose
Whether it is an annual process for a specific level of leaders, an initiative as part of a leadership development programme, or just an individual opportunity to gather feedback, it should always be made clear why a 360 process is being initiated.
Educate your workforce about the process
Make sure you explain to your employees how to get the most from the process. For instance, it helps to make sure individuals know to select reviewers based on who knows them best, not who is ‘friend or foe’. It’s also useful to explain some formalities that ease the smooth running of the process, such as informing reviewers before sending them questionnaire invites.
Always, always, always provide feedback
It is absolutely essential that all participants have a feedback session once their report is received. While a feedback session provides guidance on how to read the feedback report, it is more crucially a way to look behind the data and discover the "story" the 360 feedback tells. This is where the most valuable insight is found.
And avoid making the following mistakes…
Inviting too many reviewers
Participants sometimes follow the principle of ‘the more the merrier’ when nominating reviewers. Quantity doesn’t necessarily lead to quality, and this approach can cause people to become overloaded with reviews to complete for their colleagues. It’s a quick route to ensuring your employees learn to loathe 360s.
Forgetting the followup
Don’t just hand out feedback reports to participants and let them deal with the data on their own. Being left to interpret the results alone (especially in cases of harsh remarks from reviewers) carries the risk of demotivation and distrust amongst participants. This can then turn into a negative experience for reviewees as well as feedback providers.
Straying from the tool’s stated purpose
Never treat a 360 review as a way to deal with someone who is creating problems at work. These tools should be used for gathering insight into how to support and develop individuals and teams, and the integrity of this purpose should always be maintained. Without transparent communications, your workforce will see little value in the initiative and may become mistrustful of it.
In today’s business environment, in which workloads are often sky high, demands are complex, and likes and comments on social media have become weaved into our everyday life, there’s more need than ever for a structured and qualitative 360 feedback tool. When deployed effectively, 360 degree feedback programmes help us pause and reflect, discover deep insights and pave the way for both individual and organizational development and success.
To find out more about Cubiks’ intuitive 360 feedback tools, email email@example.com or get in touch with your local team today.
About the authors
Tina Wahi is a Consultant, Coach and Trainer with a Degree in Organizational Psychology. She works with MNCs as well as government agencies, training and developing people to help them achieve their potential. She is passionate about facilitating positive change and bridging the gap between research and practice. Tina has worked with 360 Degree Feedback for the past 15 years – helping organisations successfully implementing them and helping individuals work with their feedback results. She is enthusiastic about the benefits 360 Feedback can bring to individuals and organisations and passionate about supporting the process.
Sina Bergmann holds a Bachelor’s degree in German Studies, Cultural Studies and Psychology from the University of Bonn and a master’s degree in Modern Languages from the University of Oxford. She is also a licenced assessor by German BDP. At Cubiks Sina is responsible for our portfolio quality and the design and implementation of large 360 projects. She is also involved in training clients on our other tools including ability tests, personality questionnaires, product development and translation, assessment and development centres.