Here at Balance at Work, we recently managed a 360 degree feedback survey that saw 1360 feedback surveys completed for 157 managers. Along the way, we learnt a few lessons about what can go wrong with a 360 degree feedback project and ways to make the process much smoother in the future.
Here’s a short list of tips to help you get the most out of your next 360 degree feedback exercise.
1. Explain to everyone what a 360 feedback survey is and why they are doing it
Before doing anything, it is important that you tell everybody who is being assessed and everyone providing feedback the basics of what a 360 is and how it works. We had several people confused about why they were asked to provide feedback for their line managers – they are so used to it only going one way. By providing a clear outline of the project and the expected outcomes, it will be more likely that the feedback given will be constructive and useful.
By providing a clear outline of the project and the expected outcomes, the feedback given is more likely to be constructive and useful.
2. Provide step-by-step instructions for every part of the 360 degree feedback process
Regardless of what system you use to conduct your 360 (we use Spidergap), it will take a little time for users to understand how to use it. In order to make sure you get the highest quality feedback, it is vital that all involved know what to expect in the process as well as what is expected of them.
We found it is Important to give instructions around the criteria for choosing feedback providers, relationship titles and hints for providing useful feedback. It is always better to give clear, comprehensive instructions than to leave it to chance.
3. Be careful about who is providing 360 degree feedback
One of the biggest obstacles to getting useful, meaningful feedback is the source of that feedback. Having a balance between all relationships to the person being assessed is vital to making it a real 360. It is also important that those providing feedback feel confident in their ability to assess the person in question.
We had comments that people didn’t know someone well enough to feel comfortable providing feedback, a situation that would be avoided with more care in feedback provider selection.
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For example, questions about internal management procedures will be confusing if you are including customers in the survey. Feedback providers can make or break a survey, so consider carefully who you want to involve and what you hope to gain from their perspective.
By following these 3 simple steps, you can ensure your 360 degree feedback survey process runs smoothly.
For our client, our experience contributed to the value of the survey. Here’s the feedback we received at the end of the project from Chris Bulmer, National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia:
Susan and Harriet are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we as an organization are trying achieve in the People and Culture space. Their flexibility and responsiveness to our needs has seen the entire 360 approach being a complete success. The online tool worked well and the follow up coaching sessions that we have deployed have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organization is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such great support crew on this key project.