Round and around we go: Crafting successful 360-degree feedback loops
- 5 Min Read
360 feedback is a valuable tool for enhancing employee self-awareness and identifying their strengths and weaknesses.
360-degree feedback has become a cornerstone of employee development in many organizations. This multi-source feedback system involves gathering insights about an employee’s performance from a variety of stakeholders, including managers, peers, subordinates, and even customers.
The goal is to provide a holistic view of an employee’s strengths and areas for improvement, fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth.
However, implementing a 360-degree feedback system is not without its challenges. It requires careful planning, clear communication, and a commitment to using the feedback for development rather than performance evaluation.
1. Set clear goals
The first step in implementing a successful 360-degree feedback program is to establish clear goals. This process should be used purely for developmental purposes, not for performance reviews. When feedback is tied to performance rating, pay, or promotion, it can negatively affect the fidelity of responses from raters or sometimes be viewed as a political tool.
2. Train rates
Before starting with 360 assessments, it’s crucial to provide adequate training for anyone involved in the rating process. Proper training ensures consistency in how feedback is provided and helps create a positive momentum for engagement, productivity, and better, more honest relationships with colleagues, leaders, and direct reports.
3. Focus on natural strengths
A strengths-based approach to development is recommended, where the primary focus is on an individual’s natural strengths rather than areas that do not come most naturally. Focusing coaching on only developmental areas will give only incremental results while focusing on people’s natural talents can provide exponential growth.
4. Involve managers and leaders
Managers and leaders should be involved in the process to clearly convey what is being asked of their teams. They should be encouraged to spend time with each of their employees through both formal and informal check-ins.
5. Create buy-in and trust
Engaging senior leader champions is critical for a successful 360 development program. Take the time to educate and reiterate the importance of feedback and how it helps to address future skill needs of the organization as well as provide development to employees.
6. Careful rater selection
The number of employees who provide feedback and how they are associated contribute to the results. Employees with no opportunity to interact and observe each other will not be able to provide valid information. This is why rater selection is an important step.
7. Participant training
Conducting training and providing guidelines on successful execution can be useful, especially when the feedback process is conducted online. Many reviewers might be unfamiliar with the technology and struggle to provide feedback.
8. Carefully curated feedback
Some online 360-degree feedback platforms calculate and present the data on their own but doing it manually internally might require someone to put the data together. This needs to be done carefully, and the report should be worded to encourage the receiver. Visual data depictions are always helpful and actionable points provide further direction.